DIY Felt Busy Book

Recently I traveled by plane up to New Jersey for my grandfather’s funeral. I opted to bring Lincoln with me to provide some comic relief and distraction. You heard me right…I chose to bring my 16 month old son on an airplane. Crazy, I know. But I was feeling pretty confident since we were flying at bedtime, and I had my sister, Loo, flying with us.

But. Lincoln had other plans….and none of them included sleeping on a smelly, cramped airplane. And as the prepared and crafty momma that I am….I was ready!   In classic Shara form, I decided the night before we flew, that Lincoln not only needed a new pair of appliqued pajamas and a new long-sleeved monogrammed shirt, but that he also would benefit from a felt busy book. So while my embroidery machine sewed away at his new clothes, I got to work on his felt busy book.

And once I kind of had in mind what pages I wanted to make….it only took me about an hour. {Have I mentioned how much I love my new embroidery machine….I can multitask while sewing!!}. I decided to make the book super simple, with just five 9″x7″ felt pages. I didn’t sketch out anything-just winged it.

Page 1 was a counting page. I traced my hand on some tan felt, labled the fingers with numbers and hot glued the palm and wrist to a 9X7 “page” of felt. He can peel the fingers down to help learn how to count.

The back of Page 1 and front of Page 2 was a road. I did sketch that a little with white chalk, to make sure my road stayed a similar width throughout, and to make sure it was the right size for my pages. I also cut some bushes, a house and some little felt cars out of scraps. The cars keep getting lost though, so I may end up adding a couple of “carports” by gluing 3 edges of a rectangle down….to keep the cars from falling out of the book. I made sure to make my road thick enough for matchbox cars though, since I always have one of those in my diaper bag too.

The back of Page 2 and front of Page 3 were a tree and a basket. I cut out 5 apples and 5 leaves for the tree. This was probably Lincoln’s favorite page. He loved putting the apples on, and taking the leaves off of the tree and stuffing them in the basket. I also added numbers and “targets” {the dots} for practice in 1 to 1 correspondence in a few months…the teacher in me sneaks out every so often!

The back of Page 3 and front of Page 4 were for Mr. Potato Head.  Lincoln loves pointing out body parts {including the belly button of the closest victim}.

So I used similar technique to when I made the giant felt board Mr. Potato Head a couple of years ago, and just made it smaller {and a little less precise}.  I folded everything in half before cutting to make the body parts even.  Using a permanent marker to outline the eyes and feet is a great way to create definition without making so many individual felt pieces.  I messed up on the mouth by making teeth….I should have stuck to how I originally did it {and true to the plastic guy} with just a horizontal line for the teeth.  He ended up a little creepy, huh?

The back of page 4 and all of Page 5 I ended up leaving blank.  I simply ran out of time and ideas at 11:30 at night.  But it ended up working out to my advantage, as I had bought some stickers for Lincoln to play with on the plane, and the empty felt pages were the perfect place to “stick” them.  And because the felt stuck to the stickers, he was easily able to pull them off and on by himself.  And as you know, there is nothing more satisfying to a one year old than doing something by himself!

Once I had all the pages done, I made the cover.  Which ended up being the most time consuming item of the whole project.  I measured a 9″x7″ “cover” and then slide my template over a few inches {more than I needed so I can add pages later if I want}, and measured a second 9″x7″ back cover.  I also cut out a strip to hold my book closed, and attached a piece of adhesive rough velcro to it {so it stuck instantly to the cover of the book to keep it closed}.

Then I punched holes in the tops and bottoms of all of my pages and in the “spine” of my cover.  I folded the spine over once {use chalk to make sure all of your holes line up}, so make it a little sturdier and to store the extra spine fabric {for when I have more time to add more pages…}.  Then I used a long piece of yarn to “sew” the spine and the pages together.  I wove it through and then doubled back to make sure everything was supported.  Then I tied a knot.  If I add more pages, I’ll have to get a new piece of longer thread and do that process over again.

Now, I’ve seen the felt busy book pages on Pinterest.  And maybe someday I’ll get some free time to make some immaculate, creative pages for my book.  But for now, I’m happy knowing that my little book kept my toddler happy on a plane!

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