Friday, September 20, 2013

Laurel's Buckle Book

My just-turned-two-year-old Laurel is in love with buckles. She buckles all of her sisters carseats before I can get anyone buckled in the car. Collin and I are always finding our belts and backpacks and bags and baby carriers thoughtfully buckled for us when we go to put them on. So with all this buckling, I thought what Laurel needed for her birthday more than anything else was a book full of buckles that she could simply fasten and unfasten to her hearts content.

This August Collin had a conference up near his parent's house, so we all went up and had a nice visit with his family. I had a lot of free time, with Grandma to help with the girls and Collin away at the conference, so I brought my sewing machine and did most of the work on Laurel's quiet book up there. It was the perfect way to accomplish a big project like this undistracted by all the housekeeping and moving projects that keep me busy at home.

Dog with collar and leash. Inspired by D is for Dog on A Back to Basics Lifestyle

The first page is Laurel's favorite. It has a dog collar to buckle, and a leash to clip on. These straps are some of my handwoven inkle bands that are left over from other projects. I knew as soon as I came up with the buckle book idea that I wanted to use as many of my handwoven band scraps as possible, and I totally love the colorful textural pop it gives the pages.

Generally Annie will unbuckle the pages for Laurel, and Laurel puts them back together. It keeps both girls busy and happily playing together... double win!

The leash clip is hard for Laurel's 2-year-old hands to manage, but Annie can do it with two hands. A plastic one probably would have been better, but this was the best Collin could find at a local hardware store.

Overall bib, inspired by the heavily pinned "Close your Clothes" quiet book by Forty-Two Roads

Sewing in an overall bib was one of the first ideas I came across once I knew I wanted to make Laurel a buckle book. I found these overalls in the children's clearance bin at Goodwill. I don't think I would have dressed my girls in them, but the flowery, heart-buckley girliness is just perfect for this page.

Laurel couldn't figure out how the buckles worked for the first few days she was playing with this book, but now she's doing it on her own confidently. This is something I just love to see.

Heart buckles!

Skirt with belt, also inspired by Forty-Two Roads

Each page has an activity on the front and a solid fabric on the back. I did this for a few reasons:
1. I had a limited amount of time to sew the activity pages, and I needed my seven activities to amount to a whole book.
2. Using a plain fabric page helps focus on the particular activity on the page the book is opened to. A moderately fun page won't be overlooked just because it's next to a favorite.
3. The fabrics are pretty, and provide a simple contrast to the busyness of the activity pages.

The skirt buckling page is also made with a handwoven inkle belt scrap. I pulled out a thrifted buckle I saved from another upcycling project, and a belt loop I salvaged from a worn out pair of Collin's pants. The girls want to know where the underwear is under the skirt. I thought about sewing some in, but it didn't quite seem right... although is not having underwear worse? It makes me think of the (grammatically incorrect) Latin joke we used to tell in junior high... "Semper ubi sub ubi!"

Shoe inspired by All The Quiet Things

Every quiet book has to have a shoe tying page, right? This skill is a little beyond my girls right now, and I actually make a point of not buying them any shoes with laces because tying shoes that are always coming on and off would drive me crazy! But I had these beautiful leather scraps in my scrap pile, and the cheerful red grommets. When I found glittery ice skating shoelace in a miscellaneous bucket I knew it would be perfect. Maybe when my girls master tying bunny ears on this page I'll finally let them get some real shoes with laces.

Sewing leather is hard! Even with a special leather needle I still had trouble convincing my sewing machine to sew evenly without skipping lots of stitches. I stitched all the way around the outside and between the main shoe and the sole, but the little details are superglued on. Superglue is really amazing stuff. This project was my first time really using it. I didn't know it got so hot when it was bonding! I almost burned myself a few times.

Life Jacket inspired by Kayla Danielle

A life jacket has lots of buckles! I made this one by cutting two life jacket halves out of cardboard, and then sewing fabric sleeves for them. The straps are actually some more handwoven scraps left over from another project, but since they're solid black they aren't any more interesting than store-bought belts.

This is Laurel's second favorite page. It isn't as cute as the puppy, but it has TWO of her favorite kind of buckles, so that makes it great. Something I didn't foresee being a complication is that she frequently tries to cross or twist the straps when buckling them back together, which adds a layer of complexity in completing the task.

Laurel couldn't even let me photograph this page without swooping in and buckling it back together. That girl is obsessed with buckles!

Rotary phone inspired by How to Make a Quiet Book

I spent more time designing this rotary phone page than any other. I wanted a dial that would really turn, I wanted a real stretchy phone cord, and I wanted it to look as realistic as possible. I made lots of sketches, and scoured Jo-Ann's for just the right materials. Finding a sheet of clear plastic was more difficult than I thought it would be. Finally I found shrink film, which was just what I needed in the un-shrunk version. If I'd cut a large dial and tried to shrink it, the thickness would have been good but it likely would have warped and ended up less circular. The dial stopper (the grey part) was also made of the shrink film, just lightly sanded and colored with a graphite pencil.The button holes were all made with a regular hole punch before shrinking it in the oven - it shrinks up that much! We found the telephone cord at Goodwill, and since I needed such a short segment of it, I might see if I can include some stretchy cord in a book I'm making for Annie now.

The handset attaches to the cradle with snaps, which is the one thing I would change about this page. The snaps are straining the applique stitching on the phone cradle, and they're pretty hard for the girls to manage. If I were to make the page again I would probably use Velcro, or make the cradle have belt loops for the phone to slide into.

I wanted to make the rotary phone look as accurate as possible. I think I was mostly feeling nostalgic, remembering how my grandmother used one of these for years, even when the rest of us were so modern with our enormous cordless land lines. Did you know that all rotary dials reverse the alphabet direction between 5 and 6? It looks kind of funny to go from "GHI" to "LJK," but I guess at that point you're still supposed to be reading more left to right than top to bottom.

Lock and key page, inspired by Testy yet Trying

When I saw the lock and key page that inspired this one, I knew it would be a perfect way to use some of my favorite bright fabrics and scrap and sample inkle bands. I just love the colors here! I was afraid that the girls wouldn't be able to master the key and lock concept, but Annie took right to it. In fact, when she and Laurel were playing with the quiet book today, Annie flipped right to this last page and told Laurel (in her informative, big-sister instructional voice) "This is the FUN page, Laurel!"

So, the question is always: after all that work, does Laurel actually like it?

The answer is yes. Most definitely.

Laurel asks to play with her quiet book every night around bed time, and each time she opens it the first thing she does is to give her puppy a big smacking kiss on the nose. Makes me smile every time.

Stay tuned for the first look at my really big project this year! Annie and I are making en enormously fat ABC quiet book for preschool. We're learning a letter a week, and making a corresponding page in her quiet book. It's looking really cool. As soon as I can find some really fat binder rings I'll take some pictures to show ya'll our progress so far.

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