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A cloth activity book makes a wonderful gift for a child. These books are made from cloth and contain small activities that even the youngest child will enjoy. The books are soft, easy to carry and use.
The size of the book you make is up to you. Anything from 21" x 14" to 17" x 9.5" works great. This is the measurement of the book laying open flat. The book should be big enough for the child to sit comfortably with the book on his or her lap.
Think about making the cover of the book from a different fabric than you select for the inside pages. A 16 wale cord, printed cotton or light-weight twill works great. It is nice to add handles to the cover, making the book easy to carry. The handles can be made from fabric and attached into the cover of the book. For the inside pages, a medium weight muslin or plain cotton is wonderful.
Before embellishing the pages with activities, lightly mark the center of each "page". Each page will have two activities on it - one on the left side and one on the right side. The center page might have one activity that takes up the whole page. Any embellishing and sewing is completed before assembling the pages and the book Remember when designing your pages to leave enough room on all sides, normally 2.5cm (1") for seam allowances when sewing the pages together.
The pages and activities you do can be simple or complicated. You can use methods such as applique, patchwork, fabric paint and markers, beading and lots more. Be creative and don't feel restricted by just one method per page. Mix and match different ideas on each page. Using a fabric marker is an easy way to do the lettering on the pages but don't forget machine or hand embroidery for the text.
This is a great project for using up smaller pieces of fabric. Remember to pre-wash all fabric before sewing. These books are best if they can be washed down the road. With products like Wonder Under® and Steam-A-Seam®, attaching the designs to the page is easy. Use felt for the smaller objects that are difficult to turn and stuff. (Be sure to wash the felt first. Some felts wash well where others shrink a great deal). Attach pieces not stitched permanently to the page using a short ribbon or string. This allows some of the objects to be moved from their "home" on the page but not to become lost. Make sure the string you use is short enough that it will not become wrapped around a child's neck.
The designs and ideas for each page are endless. I have listed some different ones below to get you started.
A lamb made from a high pile fabric. This creates a neat texture for the children to touch.
A puppy in a dog house with a missing bone. The puppy could be separate from the page but still joined by a short ribbon or chain. The bone could be in or out of the dog house.
An apple tree with apples attached by Velcro. Make a small basket at the bottom of the page for the "picked" apples to go in to.
A flower with a stem in a vase. At the top of the stem are four or more buttons. Each button has a felt flower to button on. The button holes are in the flower head.
A clock to practice time. Make the hands out of lightweight plastic and attach to the page using a butterfly clip
A piece of fruit like a banana or apple that can be opened to look inside. One side is sewn onto the page, the other side is attached with Velcro and can be pulled away to reveal the inside of the fruit - add a worm for fun!
A kitty or puppy with a ribbon around his neck. Practice tying and untying the ribbon.
A train with lots of colored wheels to count. Make the train cars contain a small item that can be "delivered"
A purse that is closed with a snap. Open and close the purse. What might be inside? Maybe a key! Make the key out of felt and attached to the inside of the purse.
A traffic light with a red, yellow and green light. Attach the lights with a snap so the colors can be removed, mixed up and then replaced again.
A teepee closed with a zipper. Zip the zipper to open and close the door. What might be inside?
A circus carrousel with moveable beads. Move the beads and count them too. Make the carrousel with four different pieces of drawstring with beads on them. Each piece of drawstring is attached under the top of the carrousel to the bottom and bottom. The child is unable to remove the beads.
The back of a head with long "wool" hair. The child is able to "brush" and braid the hair.
An airplane with a moving propeller. Make the propeller out of lightweight plastic and attach to the page using a butterfly clip
Balloons on ribbons. The balloons are attached to the page with snaps and can be removed.
A shoe with a lace to tie
A baby's bed or cradle with a small baby doll that can be put to bed.
After the pages have been embellished, each page will be joined together. If you would like the pages to be a bit thicker, add a light-weight batting to the inside between each set of pages. Cut a piece of light-weight batting, baste the batting to the wrong side of one of the pages. Stitch the book pages right sides together, leaving an opening for turning at the end. Clip the corners, turn to the right side. Press. Turn under seam allowances in opening and slipstitch the opening closed. Repeat this process with all the pages. Once the pages are all individually assembled, lay each page on tope of the other and baste down the center of the book through all the thickness to secure the pages. Machine stitch a few times over the basting line to hold the pages in place.
These books are wonderful for lots of different occasions. They can be enjoyed in the car, at story time or for quiet time by oneself.
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