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How to Make a Soft Book

1510403_448789121911173_600407713_nOn a previous post, How to Make an Action Figure Sleeping Bag I told you about Gage’s love for all-things-Iron Man. Add to that Spider Man, Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, and The Hulk.

Not thinking, I accidentally left out a piece of the fabric I was using to make Iron Man’s sleeping bag. Gage spied it instantly, sucked in his breath, and said, “Grandma! Can I have that?” and for the next week, he carried that scrap of fabric everywhere he went.

So I got an idea. I decided to go back to the fabric store (I actually ended up going to four) and get a few different Super Hero fabrics to stitch together into a soft book for him. It wouldn’t be fancy; just pages and pages of printed fabric. And because some part of me still grieves that he’s moved on to super heroes, I had to include fabrics from Toy Story and Cars.

The sewing of the book is not at all hard. What is challenging is figuring out how to stack the pages in such a way that you can get a full, two-page layout of each fabric. Not following? I’ll take it slower.

Soft Book Tutorial

  • fabric of your choice (I bought 1/3 of a yard of most of them). Plan on one different fabric for each full-spread, two-page layout
  • fabric for the cover
  • white (or light plain) fabric for the title page, if you plan to make one
  • thin batting for the cover and, optionally, for the pages themselves (I didn’t use for the pages)
  • thread
  • small piece of elastic
  • button

First, decide two things: one, which fabric you want for your front and back cover, and two, which fabric you want for your center two-page spread. Set those aside for a minute, because those are going to be cut a different width than the rest.

Now determine how big you want to make the book. This depends in large part on the fabric you choose. Gage’s super hero fabric was a bit tricky, because the print repeat on a few of them didn’t quite fit the parameters I wanted. But I tried to remind myself that he is three and won’t really care if I have to cut off a shield here or a foot there. I settled on a book that was 12″ high and 16″ wide when opened; 12″ high and 8″ wide when closed.

Using my dimensions as an example, I did the following:

  • I cut the cover piece and the center piece (the one you see when the book is open to the very center) 12″ x 16″.
  • Then I cut all the other pieces of fabric 12″ x 16″, and THEN cut each one in half down the center. This is because they will join up again later, but first they’ll be sewn to another piece. It will make sense as you go along.

Now decide which two pieces you want for your very first page and your very last page. These will be sewn to the front cover and the back cover.

I chose Thor for the first page and Spiderman for the last page. I didn’t think to take a picture while I was putting this first page together, so you’re seeing it after the book is completed.

photo (14)

When you know the first and last page, sew those two right sides together with a 1/4″-1/2″ seam (whichever you’re comfortable with).

Here’s a sample of what it looks like sewing two pages together:

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Once those two pages are sewn together, set them aside for a minute. If you’re going to use a little batting to stiffen the cover a bit, use the cover piece to trace a piece of batting and pin it to the cover all around. Also, if you’re going to sew an elastic loop on, pin that to one side of the book now, tucking the loop so that it is inside, and matching the edges of the elastic with the edge of the book. I know that sounds confusing, but check this link to the post on making an action figure sleeping bag and that might help.

Now lay the cover on your table or counter (wherever you’re working) with the cover facing up and the batting facing down. Lay the piece you just sewed (the first and last pages) right sides together on top of your cover piece. Starting on one side, sew all the way around, but leave an opening big enough to turn the whole thing right side out.

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Always be sure to trim the corners every time you sew the pages together. This will eliminate a lot of bulk when you’re trying to pull the points out. Be careful not to cut through your stitching.

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After you’ve turned and pressed the set, top stitch all the way around. Not only does this make the page look nicer, it also closes the opening you left. Do this as close to the edge as you can. 1/4″ works nicely.

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Here’s my cover piece after it was sewn, trimmed, turned, pressed, and topstitched:

How to make a soft book (cover)
How to make a soft book (cover)

Now that the cover, first and last pages are sewn, it’s time to put the rest of the pages together. Here’s where it took me absolutely forever to figure things out. Lucky for you, the light dawned eventually. 🙂

What you’re going to do is this:

  • Knowing your first and last pages, find the matches to those and lay them face down on their matching pieces. For me, this meant I matched up the second Spiderman piece and laid it on top of the back Spiderman page, but for my inside cover, I wanted to make a little title page for Gage, so instead of matching up Thor, I made that page plain flannel so I could write on it. (I suggest writing on it before you sew it, just in case you don’t like how it looks). So in my case, my first and second pages didn’t match, but every other set did.
  • With those pages matching up, now you’re free to choose two different fabrics for the next pages. Make sure you pay attention to whether or not they’re left or right pieces so that when opened, it’s one nice continuous picture. Remember: these two fabrics will NOT match.
  • Now that you know the four parts to this set, begin sewing the bottom two, then the top two, and then, right sides together, all four pieces. You’ve now made four new pages.

Here’s a picture of the title page I made for Gage:

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This picture shows how the bottom left side matches up with the new set. This bottom Buzz Lightyear was sewn to the bottom set, but the top Buzz Lightyear was part of the new set. Does that make sense? On the right side, the same thing is going on — those two fabrics match up as well. It’s only the top two that will be new.

photo (15):

Be sure to match up the seams as carefully as you can and pin those points before sewing.

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Keep sewing together sets of four pages until you run out of fabric. The very top piece (the center of the book) will be one long piece that is uncut — just like what you did sewing the cover piece.

When all else is finished, sew on a button …

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And … done!1510403_448789121911173_600407713_n

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help. I hope you try this for a little someone in your life. It only sounds confusing. Once you start, it goes smoothly.

 

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