Essay

How to: A Maker's Guide - Make A Children's Felt Book

A book for the small person in your life. A few years ago I made my (then two-year-old) daughter Mia a simple felt book, hand-stitched from bright colours with plenty of interactive elements. It was called ‘Where are the Carrots?’ and told the story of a journey through the vegetable garden, discovering where each of the veges grew and eventually finding the carrots under the ground. It has been popular to say the least, and now I feel obligated to make her little sister one, too! This one is called 'Where are the Goats'?.


Materials:

-Felt, different colours

-Paper

-Pencil

-Ruler

-Scissors

-Pins

-Fabric glue

-Thread, to match felt colours

-Dacron wadding

Method:

1. Write a short story, with phrases that lend themselves to simple illustrations. It doesn't need to be complicated; the interactive pages will make up for your lack of narrative!

2. Design each page, and the cover, using pieces of paper, based on a 15cm square canvas. Think about including flaps, hidden or removable elements.

3. Use those pieces of paper as stencils to cut out the felt elements.

4. Some elements can be glued together as layers; others you will want to give some dimension to (e.g. an animal) and these can be filled with a tiny bit of dacron and blanket stitched around the edge.

5. Use stitching, buttons and ribbons to add finishing details like woodgrain texture, eyes on animals or bunches of grass.

6. Remember that if little hands can pick something off, they will! I'd suggest stitching with double strands of thread and gluing elements right to the edge.

7. For the text pages, I used a t-shirt printer to print black vinyl onto the white felt. These pages are then blanket stitched on to the reverse of an illustration page, creating a robust leaf.

8. For the spine, cut a rectangle to match the thickness of your book. I used two layers of felt for the spine and stitched each leaf to the spine from both to make sure it was secure.

9. See if you can bring yourself to let small grubby fingers poke, pull and prod your precious book. Alternatively pop it on a high shelf haha!

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Growing up in a household of two designer parents has made Zoe Ikin a true ‘maker’ – clothes for her girls, daily bread, pieces of furniture and ceramics are among a ongoing list of creative projects. Professionally, she leads large-scale strategic design projects for some of New Zealand’s biggest brands as a Design Director at multi-disciplinary design firm Alt Group.

Felt book materials. Image: Zoe Ikin

A few more felt pages. Image: Zoe Ikin

Detail of the chicken/egg felt page. Image: Zoe Ikin

Pigs in felt book. Image: Zoe Ikin

Here you can see a different sewing technique used to create the horse in the stables. Image: Zoe Ikin

The kids love these books. Image: Zoe Ikin

Finished felt book. Image: Zoe Ikin

Text and felt book carrots. Image: Zoe Ikin