Last year I started a fun craft project for Leo’s birthday in July: a home-made busy book (a.k.a. quiet book)! Between life, travel, moming, and work I wound up completing it just in time for Christmas. Actually photo finish. I think I finished binding the busy book on Christmas Eve! I had no idea how to make a busy book (and barely remembered how to sew on a button, let alone any other stitches) but thanks to Pinterest and YouTube it worked out quite well.
We try to avoid screen time and the thought is that we can whip out his busy book when we go to restaurants or appointments and he gets bored. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’ll crack and let him watch / play with our phones or an iPad but we always prefer to keep him happy without screens. As Leo gets older he can practice skills like opening and closing zippers and buckles. Perfect to satisfy that nagging feeling of having to provide educational activities. 😉
I have Leo has this hand-made treasure that has a lot of love and sweat from Mom in it. The plan is to make him a new page or two for his birthdays and Christmas. Heck maybe even Easter if I’m feeling crafty. I have so many (in my mind) adorable ideas written down and Pinterest has boatloads of fun designs that are perfect for older toddlers. Here’s to hoping this book is a project that I’ll stick with and that grows with Leo. Honestly, it’s really fun seeing a page come together while the Gilmore Girls are on Netflix. 😀
Some of the page designs are VERY inspired by some of the creative people on Pinterest and Etsy (for example, there are a million pages with dogs and collars out there – hard to give credit unfortunately) but I couldn’t use their pattern because of the size their pages were. So I drew the page in Illustrator, printed it, traced the shapes on felt and sewed everything together.
Other than the pressure to complete the book by Christmas, I had so much fun making Leo’s busy book. I can’t even tell you what part I enjoyed most. Deciding what kind of page to make, designing the pattern for that busy book page, putting it all together…? Most definitely the moment when I gave the book to Leo.
As always when I put in a ton of work creating something (hello weekly planner) I like to share it with the world. Yeah, of course for that nice pat on the back, but more so because designing and making the busy book pages was work. Enough work to be kind of sad about it only having served myself once. So if you’re trying to figure out how to make a busy book and are looking for free busy book page designs I’ll be all too happy to share what I did with you. Your child/niece/nephew/friend’s kid… is going to love and cherish any hand-made treasure – I know I would have as a child so take the time to craft a busy book for them!
How to Sew A Busy Book by Hand
Before digging in, let me share the pages that really helped me remember how to sew. It would have been nice to have a sewing machine but hand-sewing everything wasn’t the end of the world and worked out just fine. So fear not if you haven’t sewn in a while – aside from putting lost buttons back on I also hadn’t picked up a needle in decades (since middle school textile class actually, where I made a crooked pillow case, trapezoid shaped pot holders, and a half finished bag).
These are the types of stitches I used to create Leo’s quiet book:
Here’s one piece of basic advice for starting with either stitching method: Fold your embroidery floss (yarn) in half and thread it through the needle in a way that the two open strands are near the needle loop. Then, stitch from the back side of the felt to the front but don’t pull the thread all the way through. When the needle is on the back side again, pull it through the remaining loop to secure it without a knot. Then continue with your regular stitches.
YouTube is your friend if you’re still unsure about baste, blanket or back stitches (yep, done that).
How to Easily Bind Busy Book Pages with Grommets / Eyelets (sharing soon, get your pages ready!)
Busy Book Supplies
Shopping for craft projects is almost an entirely separate hobby for me (as my enormous stash of beads and gems will testify – sorry Honey!). I just love walking through craft stores to see what fun things I may discover. Amazon, Michaels, and JoAnn’s were where I got most of my loot for the busy book but I always keep my eyes open for fun items. The Target dollar spot is a marvelous source of reasonably priced trinkets and stationary. Always fun. Anyway, here is more about all the things I have used to make Leo’s busy book.
Free Busy Book Page Designs
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Busy Book Title Page with Taggie Sun and Cloud (sharing soon)
Busy Book Vehicle Puzzle Page (sharing soon)
Busy Book Traffic Light Buttoning Page (sharing soon)
Busy Book Lady Bug and Flower Pages (sharing soon)
Busy Book Dog Page (sharing soon)
Busy Book Teeth Brushing Page (Haven’t sewn that one yet but I have the design. Hoping to have it done for Easter! Yay!)
Keep in mind, these are for PERSONAL USE ONLY. If you’d like to sell your sewn pages using my designs, please leave me a comment for a license. You are welcome to link back to this post but please don’t steal and repost on your own site!
Happy crafting y’all!