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December 29, 2014

How to make a quiet book with a group of friends

Earlier this week, I shared about the quiet book I made with some friends. (Er, the fourteen quiet books we made together.) It was a fun and very satisfying project! If you have a baby or young child to care for, consider organizing some other crafty mama friends to make your own! It will be a treasured item for the years to come, and a must-bring item when you head for a plane ride, car ride, church service, or visit to grandma’s!

Quiet book page ideas

The idea behind the group quiet book project is that each person mass-produces one quiet book page, then you all get together and swap pages, so everyone gets a lovely collection of unique of pages! It’s the most efficient way to purchase supplies, and also an efficient use of skill and time! And we all know parents can use all the efficiency they can get.

Mass produce one quiet book page and swap with others

Why should I do it as a group?

Of course, you could always make the entire thing yourself. Kudos to all the people who do make quiet books themselves (I’ve seen you out there on Pinterest! You are so impressive!!!) But I could never do that. I think that would take me forEVER. When the mamas and I all got together to swap pages and assemble our books, many of us remarked that we could never have made a whole quiet book ourselves, because:

  1. It’s hard to find the creative juices, research energy, and time to make several individual unique pages when you’ve got a baby (and/or job) to care for, too!
  2. It’s way more cost-effective to buy things in bulk than to buy one of every little item you want to include in your book.
  3. Many of us didn’t have access to the tools needed to finish binding the books, like the fancy hole puncher or a sewing machine.
  4. It’s also hard to find the motivation to FINISH the whole thing. A lot of us didn’t actually finish until just days (hours? (minutes??)) before it was “due,” even though we’d had two months to do it. Cram a little? I think so. While we might not have finished it for ourselves, we pushed ourselves to finish it for the group. Sometimes, a little pressure goes a long way!

These are just some of the reasons why Christy D.’s group quiet book project was such a great idea! So glad I stumbled upon it.

FOR THE PARTICIPANT: I’M IN! HOW DO I MAKE MY QUIET BOOK PAGES?

Here are the basic steps to make a quiet book:

1. Choose a theme and learning feature (e.g. weather & zippers). Tell your group members what you’re doing to prevent too much overlap. You probably don’t want to have five people do pages that are all about numbers or that all have zippers.

2. Prepare your quiet book pages: Use 9-inch by 12-inch Stiffened Felt (NOT sticky-backed felt, NOT floppy felt) for the base page. Cut off bottom 3 inches to make a 9″ x 9″ square. Leave the left and right margins clear for binding, since you won’t know if it will end up being a left- or right-side page.

Prepare your quiet book page

3. Decorate and mass produce your pages.
Note: floppy felt is acceptable for decorating!

Mass produce your quiet book page and swap with others

4. Assembly: Bring your completed pages to the assembly party, where you will share pages (show and tell!), swap pages, put your pages in order, punch holes in them, and bind them!

Punch holes and bind with book rings

Optional: You can also sew your pages back to back and/or add grommets to the holes for a cleaner look.

Sew pages together back to back for a cleaner lookThat’s it!

Should I sew my pages back to back or not? 

To sew your pages or not II

At our assembly party, a lot of people were undecided about whether or not to sew their pages back to back. Pros: it looks nicer. There’s a border, and the sewing lines on the back of each page aren’t exposed (see above). On the flip side (pun intended), leaving them as single-sided pages allows you to more easily fix pages that need mending later on. It also allows you to swap your pages in and out a little more easily so you can customize your book according to age or occasion. I think you’re good to go either way!

I sewed mine because, let’s be honest, I wanted it to look pretty for my blog photos haha :). Vain, yes. Here is a side-by-side comparisons of sewn and grommeted pages vs. un-sewn, un-grommeted pages.To sew your pages or not

(I already have a page that needs mending, so maybe I will not sew them back to back next time…)

FOR THE ORGANIZER: I WANT TO ORGANIZE THIS. WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

This post is meant to be a resource for anyone who wants to be the organizer of their own group quiet book project. Now that you have the instructions for making pages laid out, it’s time to organize people to make them! I’ve tried to make this as easy and as straightforward for you as I can, with sample emails you can just copy/paste, edit, and send. Please feel free to share this in mama groups and encourage others to make one!

A few things to note:

HOW TO ORGANIZE A GROUP QUIET BOOK PROJECT

Step 1: Gather participants. (sample email)

Step 2: Once you have committed group members, send out first email to (1) initiate quiet book page sign-ups, and (2) to find a due date/book assembly date. (sample email).

If you have a lot of people to organize (6+), then you can use doodle.com to simplify scheduling.

Step 3: Send out email to announce date and details for quiet book assembly date. (sample email)

This includes a survey (see sample here) to determine how many binding supplies to order, which you should set up beforehand and link in your email. If you are not familiar with Google Forms, then you can just edit the message to include the survey questions in your email and record your responses here.

Step 4: Send out email of reminders for the assembly date. (sample email)

Step 5: As the organizer, use information gathered from step 3 to make sure that you have the following materials:

  1. A Crop-A-Dile Hole Puncher, or tool that can easily punch holes through 1-3 layers of felt.
  2. Enough book rings so that each person has at least two. I got a pack of 100 for $6.50 on Amazon.
  3. Enough grommets/metal eyelets for each person who requested them.
  4. Enough sewing machines at the assembly location so that everyone who wants to can sew their pages together before binding (one sewing machine for every 2-3 people should be enough).

Step 6: Assemble Books
Your location should have enough work space for ladies to set up a couple of sewing machines and spread out a bit. The ladies all met at my place at 4pm, and most were done by 6pm. Some stayed until 7:30, but that was mostly because we were socializing and helping other people. It was fun, and they all were very pleased with their books!! (So were their kids :)).

Step 7: After the event, send out a closing email! 
After all that work, it’s nice to throw out some kudos and recognize the details and hard work everybody put into it! You can just write everyone and thank them for their hard work, mention any extra-spectacular pages, and ask them to reply-all with which pages and/or details they appreciated in particular (or which page their child likes the most!).

Step 8: Optional, but appreciated… send me photos of your completed project!
I’d looooooooove to see if you made a book! Please share!! =D

Hope this is helpful and that it is beneficial to your families and kids!

—————-

1/6/2015 EDIT: 

FAQ:
(…and by “Frequently” I might mean “Once” :))

About how much would it cost to make 14 pages?
It varies, but probably somewhere between $20-50, depending on which design you pick and what materials it requires. For example, for my chain links page it was 14 sheets of stiffened felt at a little over $1 each, 13 sheets of soft felt at about $0.40 each. The hardware was about $25 (but I have a lot of extra snaps left). So mine was around $50. I think the page with grommets and the beach scene must have been even more, since there was a lot of felt (each page was double-backed). Others used fewer materials, so theirs might have come out to about $20 total.

Honestly, I think the main cost to consider, though, is the TIME it will take to make them all. If you don’t have several hours to commit, it might be more worth your time to buy one. I thought it was a fun and satisfying labor of love, so I’m glad we did it, but it did occur to me that if I were a super busy and completely non-crafty mom, I would probably consider buying that one off Etsy. Also, it doesn’t have to be 14 pages!! 14 just happened to be the number of friends I had interested in joining. I would have been happy with 8, which of course would bring time and money costs down.

Can people participate if they cannot sew?
I think it is optimal if things are sewn on (either by hand or machine), especially if the pages are for babies that don’t know what it means to be careful yet. Our quiet book had both tacky glue and hot glue on various pages, and a lot of those items have fallen apart already so I’ll be taking the pages apart to sew them down firmly.

What about heat iron-on adhesives?
I’m actually not sure– haven’t personally tried. However, you should double-check if the stiffened felt you’re using can take the heat from an iron. My friend used heat bond for her ballet slippers (not pictured, because I had chosen the football over the ballet slippers) and said it worked well, so it’s worth looking into if you don’t want to sew.

Can I use a different hole puncher, such as this one?
Yes, but I don’t think that one will do grommets/eyelets, if that’s an option you were interested in. Otherwise it should work fine for punching holes.

Won’t all the little pieces get lost?
Yes. I check that each page has all its pieces before we head out. Another option is to attach each felt piece to the page with a ribbon, like this one. Tedious? Yes. Effective? Probably!

13 responses to “How to Make a Quiet Book with a Group of Friends”

  1. Kim says:

    I’ve never worked with stiffened felt before but I wonder if you did this (sewed a back on it to make a pocket for pieces) if it could then be turned inside out for sewing repairs?

  2. Darcy says:

    What if you sewed 3 of the 4 sides and used the space between pages as a place to store the pieces for that page? Maybe put Velcro or something else to keep it closed?

  3. lois says:

    Thank you for providing all the info behind getting such a project started…I’m far away from arts and crafts and getting something like this started so it has been very handy.

  4. Dakota says:

    One more thing though… I want to pin this to my “crafts for kids board” (and will) but would you please consider making a nice little graphic to go with it? That first picture would be perfect… and then you can just use picmonkey.com to overlay the text and your blog name. 😀 Then I can repin it and the text and picture will go together all nicely. (The tall rectangle is supposed to be the best for pinterest images.)

  5. Dakota says:

    Oooooohhhhhhhhhh you have hit on the very reason I’ve never tried to make my OWN quiet book (and consequently my kids have just one, and neither of them play with it). There are too many pages and just too many things to do! I could totally see getting together with a group of folks to do this kind of project though.

    How awesome, and how cool that you’ve got it all set up with sample emails. That’s a ton of work!!!

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