A Handmade Cloth Activity Book, part II

This year’s special handmade Christmas gift was for my 5 year old son.  You can see last year’s, that I made for my daughter, in a separate blog post, here.

It bears repeating, a few words about handmade gifts and why I think we should all be giving them:

  1. Handmade gifts contribute to the zero-waste lifestyle since they don’t come with packaging.
  2. Since handmade gifts are unique, they have a marvelous ability to make the recipient feel like they are special.  And since they become so valuable in regards to the commodity of our time, they make the recipient feel loved.
  3. The maker of a handmade gift gains something in the process: fulfilling creative expression, time directed into worthy channels, and progression of skills.
  4. Even if you’re not able to make a gift yourself, you can still choose to buy handmade gifts from local artisans or from individual online retailers, like Etsy shops.  Good karma on you for supporting these individuals, local communities, and the economy!

As with the last quiet book that I made, Pinterest was my best friend.  I found a lot of ideas for pages and patterns, searching by subject and adding “quiet book” or “cloth activity book” or “felt…”  One useful tip is to resize an image on your computer screen until it’s the exact size that you need, and then trace onto regular printer paper to make your own pattern.  The lighted screen acts as a makeshift tracing table.  Most times I copied bits and pieces, and then put it all together in just the way I wanted.

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The underwater scene…  baby otter, starfish, and urchin all snap on and off of the mama otter, and are meant to be stored in the sunken treasure chest.  I added a tiny pocket watch to the chest as well because my boy had been asking for one.  Next page moves on to the slightly creepy, but mostly funny Sea of Monsters, from the brilliant psychedelic-art cartoon movie “Yellow Submarine.”  The little submarine is stuffed with a bit of wool to give it some dimension, and it moves back and forth on a ribbon.

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The construction vehicle page… pretty straight forward, the wheels button on and off, the dump truck has a few logs and bricks to transport, and the tower crane lifts a steel bar when you pull on the ribbon.

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The sushi page… chopsticks, furoshiki food storage, and a bento box for arranging food.  This is the perfect page for showing how printed fabrics can save you a lot of embroidery time if you’re able to find the right one for your project.  You simply cut out the picture, sew it onto a larger piece of felt with the zig-zag stitch, then cut the felt to the right size, and lastly, put some Dritz Fray Check on the edges so that the fabric doesn’t unravel.

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The Inuit page… lots of felt characters to arrange in this Arctic scene – in the boat, in the ice holes, maybe guarding the fish from the yeti, and they all store in the zippered igloo.

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The car play mat page… Of course I had to make it road-trip themed because that’s what I love.  What’ve we got here… a compass rose, Santa Monica, motor hotel car storage, the quintessential Southwest road-trip food – In-N-Out, Sleep in a Wigwam, the Cabazon Dinosuars (you know, from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, in CA you drive by them on your way out to the desert: Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Vegas) and railroad tracks.  I had a patch with an alien saucer abducting a cow, to represent New Mexico.  I tell you, it hurt to not be able to put that on, but it just wouldn’t fit anywhere.  So many more ideas for this page, so little space!  This one is extra long as it is – it has snaps that make it stay folded in to the same length as the rest of the pages, when not in use.  The opposite side needed an extra long page as well; you’ll see in the pictures below.  For cars, Micro Machines are the perfect size.

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The space page… here we have the solar system on one side, and the Intergalactic Robot Station on the other.  Planets are snap on/off, and there are some alien visitors in the spaceship.  The robot station opens to six different robots that can be mixed and matched with each other.  I named the little metallic robot “Twiki,” after the Buck Rogers TV series.  Any other children of the 70’s?

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Each page of the book is lined with a single layer of thin cotton batting.  I place the batting strategically on pages that have snaps and things that could use reinforcement.

That’s all!  I hope you enjoyed the book and that this post can inspire you to create handmade gifts for the people that you love.

Thank you for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, then scroll all the way to the bottom to follow this blog and receive email notifications whenever I post something new.

*This post contains affiliate links to unique products, carefully curated by me, that I would personally use in my own home.  I receive compensation from purchases made from these links, but there is no extra cost to the buyer.

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