For Liam's first birthday, I decided to make him a fabric book. We bought all the scrapbooking supplies and fully intended to make him a scrapbook chronicling his first year, but, just like our wedding scrapbook, that didn't happen, despite our intentions. I've seen a couple of these types of fabric books around and knew it would make the perfect gift for him. We're celebrating his birthday today with family, even though his actual birthday is still a week away.
I had two goals for this project. One was for the book to be a memory of his first year. The other was for the book to have photos of family so he can start learning people's names. Although we have some whole family shots, I'm not sure I really accomplished the second goal. I'm okay with that as there will be plenty of opportunity to learn people and names.
I hadn't yet attached the button closure in the above photo. There is now a 1 1/4" button on the right of the front cover. Since the pages stick out, it's a tight fit with the button, so I'm guessing that we'll probably leave it open most of the time.
The fabric book is thick. Each page has two pieces of fabric, two layers of interfacing and two layers of batting. That doesn't include the photo fabric. It makes for nice and sturdy pages that will be perfect for a one-year-old's hands. It was a bugger to sew through, though. I started with a 90/14 needle and broke it. Went up to a 100/16 needle and broke it, too. I realized that my needle was becoming loose and that I needed to check it every once in a while. (My machine needs a tune up, but I can't bear to let it go for a couple days!) The 100/16 needle worked well. I only had a few skipped stitches when I topstitched over the button-hole tab, which added another two pieces of fabric and interfacing to the above list.
The most challenging part was figuring out how to seam the pages together. Originally, I thought I'd just do a center seam through all the layers. That was until I realized how thick it was and that it wouldn't fit under my machine. Would you believe that I tried?
So then I thought I'd hand sew it, but that came out too messy. It was also too hard to get the needle though all the layers. I went to a quilting and sewing store and they suggested using a darning needle. Those things are huge! I felt like I was doing surgery or something. It was long enough, but not really strong enough. Plus, I'm not really a hand sewer. Combine my lack of skill with the thickness of the fabric and it was too messy.
Finally, I realized that I was a quilter and applied my knowledge of hand sewing bindings. That worked perfectly! Each page is hand sewed to it's facing page using an invisible stitch. The same stitch I use when sewing bindings on quilts. There are four seams. It was kinda fiddly to sew down, but I think it will hold. I love how it's seamed. I love how I was able to figure it out all on my own. And, I love how it's practically invisible. It doesn't interfere with the spine and middle seams, like I didn't have to figure out how to match them up, and each page is seen only with its facing page. It's neat and tidy.
Some things I'd do differently next time . . . I'd make each inside page a half inch progressively shorter so that when closed, the middle pages don't stick out. I knew it would do this, but couldn't figure out how much to take off and how to adjust the photos to account for it. I'm also not sold on the button closure. I don't think it really needs a closure, and if I make the pages the same length when closed, it'd look nicer without the closure. I might also not make it as thick. I could probably use stronger interfacing and only one piece of batting between each page.
We've decided to do some type of memory book each year for our children, presenting it to them on their birthday. The first one will be a fabric book, but the other ones will be professionally printed, like an iPhoto book or something similar. Years ago I was really into scrapbooking. I still like the look of it, but don't have the time. I'd rather quilt!