a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quiet Book Pages: Will You Allow Me One More --- Sorta Final Finale to This Project?

A few posts ago I reported on a blog I found using old baby clothes to make a cute quiet book. I think I said, at the time, they were so cute I would probably have to make some.

Here is the site:


And . . .

Here is my excuse for making more pages. I have two friends that want to make quiet books for their two young grandsons but, and this is a big but, neither sew nor craft --- nor do they want to learn.

Another big but is --- they really, really want these books and I won't make them for them.

I found some simple "boy" pages, modified them to make them even easier to do, and am helping them.I don't care if they never do anything crafty again, and I don't expect them to become seamstress-es but I am excited to report they are learning to hand overcast and sew on buttons. I strongly feel it is is important for everyone to know how to do these basics (and maybe a couple more).

 I am Simply, Gail simply doing my part to try to make that happen. . .
and enjoying the process.

The original blog (check it out above, used a onesie for the shirt.  This shirt is
cut from heavy Pellon with the collar (and buttons you can't see under the tie) drawn on with permanent marker.
Polly, from the above site,  has made her double-sided ties out of stiffened t-shirt fabric.  I used 2 different patterns/pieces of felt to make my reversible ties, making it  easier for my friends. I will have them overcast the top part of the tie to securely enclose the magnet because it is a (funny) challenge to sew that part on the machine because the magnet keeps sticking itself to the metal part of the machine.

Polly stacked her ties on top of one another in the book.  I cut the pants from a piece of felt and left the waist open so the ties tuck in there when not in use.

Note: I have them hand overcast stitch any parts when they don't want to use the sewing machine, which is getting them used to the machine because it is so much quicker!

We cut the bottom off this long-sleeve onesie  to fit the page and used a zig-zag stitch
around the edgesleaving the front section of the neck open and the sleeves loose.

Hands were made from a double thickness of felt, overcast around the edges and stitched inside
the bottom of the sleeves. The play-ee can patty cake with the hands, or fold the arms to pray.

With this next page the onesie was too large for the page so we used just the front part and cut it down to fit. We cut the sleeves off and slipped them underneath the front after it was cut down to size. This shirt has the addition of snaps for another learning activity.  You could have something inside if you wanted. She hasn't added the hands yet.

I hadn't realized I had the cute applique covered in the above picture. So, just for the fun of it,
I am printing it again.

Boy baby clothes have come a long way since our boys were born in the 60's and 70's!
I found several really cute ones at the thrift store --- enough to add this type of page
to all 12 of the books I am making.

I found a just for "boys" quiet book site for my friends Barb and Shauna. It has some very cute and quite elaborate pages.


I made the tool box from that site with the following changes:

  • I used sticky-backed craft foam letters from the Dollar Tree (124 letters in 4 different colors). They are sticky enough that they are almost impossible to move once they are placed on the felt so be careful when you place them. In spite of that, I still hand stitched them also.
  • Instead of felt I used, again from the Dollar Tree, 4x6 inch foam sheets (32 sheets, six colors in each package).  I made them double thickness and since the glue didn't hold them together as much as I wanted I hand-stitched them together.  I think I will still try felt --- either the stiff kind or the stiff sticky back kind, but then again, those cost a lot more! And I will probably still feel I have to sew them "to be sure".
  • I wanted something else to fill the space on the page so I Googled "free clip art 6 inch ruler," selected the one I wanted and printed it (as many times as I could get on a page since I need 12 plus those for my friends) on colored card stock.  I enclosed the ruler in a section of a page protector and stitched around it, making sure to round off the corners.  I think I will take the remaining 12 rulers to Staples office supply and have them laminated!
  • I attached the ruler with a brad so it can be moved back and forth on the page.
  • And, purely serendipity, the ruler, when moved down over the tools will help them stay in the tool box!
I think my eyes must see crooked!  Have you noticed how almost every
page is slightly (or not so slightly) off kilter?

Finally (have you heard that before on this blog site?) I happened on a couple of other sites that
I adapted. I always like to give credit when I can but unfortunately 1)  I can't remember where I found 
the original ones and 2) I have changed them so much they probably would not be recognizable. The pieces, on both pages, are simple enough to cut without patterns. And Barb sewed  both of these. 

The original was a regular truck with a felt truck bed and big felt wheels you buttoned onto big black buttons. It did have a pile of dirt, fastened to a cord,  you could remove from the truck.  

We made ours a dump truck.  
  • We used plastic craft canvas for the body to 1) eliminate some sewing and 2) to add some texture.  
  • We made it "dump" by securing the back corner with a brad.  
  • The brad at the front of the truck bed is to (try) to keep the front of the bed from dropping down.
  • The wheels are each cut (and sewn) from double thickness of stiff felt.  
  • Instead of having them button on, we wanted them to turn.  Originally we were just going to use brads.  Husband Dave came up with the idea of having the brads go through metal washers.  Genius!!! They added so much. 
  • But, as usual, even though the fit was good, I was afraid the brad would somehow slip through the washer so we used gray thread and overcast stitched the washers to the page before adding the brad.  I think the stitching added even more to the look. 
  • The dirt load is a double thickness of brown embossed felt with the end of the cord sandwiched between the two pieces. The other end is securely sewn under the back wheel.
  • The dirt pile is a single piece of the embossed felt.
  • The cab has the window hole cut out.  Barb drew the steering wheel on a piece of card stock a little larger than the hole, covered it with a piece of page protector and stitched it to the back side of the window hold.
  • We added the same sun that I had used on the earlier barn with animal finger puppets page.

Barb's grandson has three older brothers. She wanted to make them a part of the book. This is what we came up with.  Instead of looking a lot like windows as they had on the original page we found, Barb
wanted to make it bright and basic.  Each of the three top window flaps lifts up to show a pocket (cut from page protectors) that will hold a photo of one of the brothers. The large window on the bottom opens from the middle to show mom and dad. When little Kashton opens the door ---- he will be there!

Barb did almost all of this herself. I sewed the inside section on the door (it was needed to
cover the stitching of the letters and heart) and sewed on the doorknob. 
I apologize for the crazy formatting that is showing up with some of the sentences.  I am too tired to try any longer to fix them and I want to get this posted in case any of you are trying to get a book done for the

I'm not sure what my schedule will be the next couple of weeks but I will be back on my regular Friday schedule after the first of the year, if not before.

Wishing Peace on Earth to everyone at this time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Quiet Book Finale: Putting It All Together


I researched many ways to fasten the book together . I wanted the pages to be removable so 
I chose this idea: 

I have a lot of pages in my book and happen to have 1-1/2 inch binder rings in my stash of stuff so they are a perfect match. 

The photo below my directions will explain what I am not doing  very well explaining with words.

My quiet book pages are each 9x12 inches so . . . 

1. I cut a piece of felt 13 inches long by 20 inches wide to allow for some "wiggle-room". You wouldn't have to use felt for the cover --- denim or other sturdy fabric works well.

2. Laid it out flat so it was a horizontal rectangle

3. Measured 10" in from the edge and used a piece of chalk to mark the center of the rectangle

4. Centered a 13 inch long piece of grosgrain* ribbon along the chalk line and stitched it down both
sides, leaving three channels or tunnels to thread the rings through. Be sure to space the  tunnels so the rings will match up with the holes in the pages.  I'll explain how I did the holes below. 

*Grosgrain ribbon is stronger than other ribbon.  Any sturdy tape or section of sturdy fabric will also do the job. 

5. I sewed a single activity page next to the ribbon, on what will be the back side of the book since I don't plan on doing any decorating on the back.  I have left the inside of what will be the front cover empty until I decide what I want to do with the front cover.  Adding the activity page after decorating the front cover will hide the stitches from the cover design.

The bugaboo (dictionary definition: something that makes people very worried or upset.) of the project is how to create the three holes in the pages for the rings to go through.

I have already said, with the shoe page, I did not want to go through the trouble or expense  of putting eyelets in. And, with the double-thick pages it would really be a chore/trial.

You will have to look closely to see the white stitching where I attached the
sheet protector to the felt.
Sheet protectors, once again, to the rescue!!!

There is a reason I proudly call myself cheapskate; I also think I am creative ---- and I hope you share my opinion!

At first when I was using all the rest of the page protector I was tossing the three-hold section away as useless.

That was then ----

Now I measure about 1 to 1-1/2 inches from the hole-punched section and cut that strip from the rest of the page. 

I choose the two pages I want to be back-to-back and zig-zag them together. 

Note:  I carefully select the two pages I  join so there will be variety but also so they are of the same ability level. More on why, below.

Once again, looking at the picture above, will help you understand the following directions.

I open the flap strip attached to the hole-punched part, slip it over the sewn-together page so it covers both sides evenly, center the strip vertically on the felt so the punched holes line up with the ring tunnels. and stitch it the strip in place.  

NEW IDEA: I just tried stitching the one felt page over the plastic hole punched part. Then I did the same thing with the page that will back it. Then I stitched the two pages together. I think that was easier.   If I have totally confused you, I am posting a couple of new quiet book pages immediately after this post and you will be able to see what I mean if you look closely at the "put on the tie" page and it's back-side page "patty cake."

Another note:  I like to use the sheet protectors that have slightly elongated holes at the top and bottom with a round one in the middle.  These elongated holes give the pages a little space to "adjust" if I goofed a little on the placement.

Yet, still another note: You will want some way to keep the finished book closed. It could be simple ribbons that tie or a buckle-type thing. You can decide. 

A final (?) note:  (make that notes!) I like this loose ring format because it allows the taking in and out of pages ---either as their activity level increases (so either harder ones can be added or easier ones removed). 

I am buying the "soft" (see shoe lace post)  1-inch plastic binders for each set, especially since I can't seem to stop making new pages!!  They will hold 4 or 5 double pages.  

The benefits:

  • It is a lot easier
  • I am ending up with too many pages for one book
  • the pages are easily  interchangeable, as stated above 
  • two 1" binders would allow two children to play quietly at once.

Happy Creating ---- and watch for another to follow later today, which might be the post you see first.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Still More Quiet Book Pages --- when I thought I was finished!

I am really pleased with how the wild animal weaving page turned out. Plus----it was simple and quick!!!

Wild animal patterned felt.  What a fun find!
Un-weave the strips and find who they belong to . . . 

I think kids will have fun matching  the
weaving strips to the animals. 
I couldn't pass up these puzzle cards I found at Dollar Tree ---- three different decks in a $1.00 package! 
Each card is double-sided  with different puzzle on each side. 
This is my build-a-word quiet book page using these cards. The puzzle card page is the same only with three sections in each pocket, all cut from --- you guessed it ---- page protectors!
If you look closely you can see I stitched down the middle of the clear pockets, making two sections.
 You can also see
I didn't do a good job inserting the cards, but it gives you the idea.

Again, the cards are double-sided so there are six objects to match.
This one with a pocket to hold the cards. I am going to change
the tie part because it tangles easily.
The third deck of cards is numbers. 

These cute jigsaw puzzles are also from The Dollar Tree.

There are four different 4-inch square puzzles in each $1.00 package (animals, sea critters or fruits)
Each set contains a puzzle with a different number of pieces - three, four, five and six - making them 
great for different ages and ability levels.

I haven't figured out a way to use them in the quiet books but I will keep thinking. 

  I knew I needed a lacing page to complete the book --- especially when I found these bright 45" laces at Hobby Lobby.
12 laces in a package --- ideal for my 12 quiet books!
I checked out several Internet quiet book shoe-lacing pages before starting out.  

The soccer shoe on the following site is great but it didn't lend itself to 1) my bunch of bright shoe laces and 2) the time it would take to make 12 of them


I also love her tool box!

My shoe is a combination of ideas. My main goal was to make a shoe whose lacing holes would stay firm and intact without going to the trouble (or expense) of making "official" shoe lace holes.

In my attempts to accomplish that, I tried using a simple paper punch to make holes in a variety of non-woven materials. Not only did the material need to be sturdy --- it had to be fairly easy to punch. I found just what I needed in an unlikely place.
I originally bought this flexible plastic 1" binder  (I loved the bright colors and the price 
of $1.00) to see how it would work as an "auxiliary" holder for just a few quiet book pages, thinking that having just a few pages to entertain at a time would not only increase the interest but allow for different pages of different levels of activity so the quiet book could be suited to, and could "grow" along with, the user. Now I will have to go buy 12 more!

You can see where I have begun to cut out the shoe tops!  I will be able to get all 24 lacing sections
from this one binder---with a lot left over. 

Since most of you won't need that much material, here are a few other things I tried that I think would work: Heavy Pellon interfacing, vinyl, and  non-woven re-usable shopping bags. 

Next week I will show you . . .

how I am finishing the "binding" edges of the pages and
how I am going to fasten the pages in the book. 

Have a terrific week!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Quiet Book Pages #11 and #12 Take a Road Trip Through Town and Country

The center of my quiet book is a two-page layout. When the book is open the pages will be across from each other. There are lots of little things on these pages. 

1. I printed the cute town and country layouts from  thediymommy.com website.
2. I cut the little road signs from a sheet of 12x12 scrapbook paper and fastened them to the layouts.
3. I turned the river into a railroad track using brown and black marking pens  (although it is still             showing blue in this picture) simply because I wanted to use the railroad signs.

Do what I suggest --- not what I did!    I copied the original layout pages before putting on the road signs which means I have to cut and paste the signs on each individually.  Duh!!!!  I should have made the copies after I added the signs, train track, etc.

4. The layouts are covered, once again, with  heavy duty page protectors.

Many of the signs overlap each other but if you look carefully you will see that some
of them are on the top of the overlap.  The white spaces in the paper is where 
I cut mine out.

5.  The very cute little car stickers (in car wash and at parking lot) are from Dollar Tree.  There are 15 on the sheet! They are plastic and dimensional. As always, for the safety factor, I sewed around the edges.
6.  The car wash "flaps" are pieces from the fleece strips I found (and used on the hair braiding page).
7. The signs are made using permanent marking pen on heavy pellon interfacing strips.
8. The gas nozzle holders are sections of the reinforced edge (where the holes are punched) of a page protector. I cut these sections  large enough to fit under the pumps.
9. The gas pump hoses are made from a 27" shoe lace. Originally I was going to use a short length cut  from
each end of the lace so the tips were the end of the hose.

Then I decided I wanted the hoses to be able to pull out from the pumps --- and that seemed easy enough if I just cut the shoe lace lengths a little longer and fastened them between the pumps and the base sheet except, and this is a big EXCEPT, how would they "recoil" once they were pulled out.

I finally came up with the following page which  backs the gas pump page. The pages rely on each other to "work." I was discouraged with the plainness/bareness of the page but Carissa, a good friend of mine and mother of three small girls (who wants to make these books) loved it --- so I guess simplicity is okay ---- and maybe/probably  even good.

Ooops, how can I even question simplicity when I am Simply, Gail !

#A You can see the basting at the top of the page.  I wanted to see if my idea worked
before I machine sewed the two pages back to back.

10.  I placed a rectangle of heavy pellon interfacing on the back side of this piece of felt as
reinforcement for the buttons. I sewed the buttons on using heavy buttonhole thread (dental floss also works well). I also placed a small button under each large one sewing through the holes in both  make room for
the "winding" of the shoe laces.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
#B. Hopefully this picture is will help you understand what I am trying to describe.
I didn't stitch the pellon rectangle down. I think the buttons do the job of holding it in place.
I punched two holes in  a small folded piece of the pellon and stitched it to the rectangle.

The red stitching lines are the lines of the pumps. It doesn't show here but I left very small un-stitched sections at the base of the pumps so the laces could thread through.

The white stitching lines are the lines of the hose holder (cut from the page protector) including the part that goes beneath the pump itself.  I have punched a hole in the plastic to reinforce where the laces go through. I made small holes through the felt right where I punched the holes in the plastic.

I pinned the two pages together, back to back. Then . . .

a. On the blue page I put the middle of the shoelace over a button.
b. Poked the laces through the two holes so they come through on the wrong side of the blue page.
c. Poked the laces through the wrong side of the town page so they come out at the base of the pumps.
d. The hoses now come out of the pumps and tuck into the pump holders!

The hoses can reach all over the pages when they are not winding around the buttons.  They are pulled back to their proper length at the pump when the button page is played with. 

I am pretty excited about how it worked how. I hope those playing with it will like it also.

Here Come the Vehicles!!! 

They are shown in the very first picture at the top of this post. I made them two different ways. They were fun to make by hand but since I am making 24 of them, I worked out another way.

I used two layers of stiff felt (I don't know any other way to identify it except to call it what it is --- stiff.) for the cars.  I used 2 colors so that the two cars actually became like four cars (depending which way they were going!) Before I found the stiff kind I made the red car (the hand sewn one) with regular felt and sandwiched a piece of heavy pellon between the two pieces.

In the picture it looks like there are only two wheels on each car but there are actually two on each side ---- each set sewn together at the same time using heavy thread or dental floss.

BONUS!!! I had no clue when I made them, but they actually stand up by themselves!

For mass producing the cars: Using chalk, on one piece of the felt, I traced around the cardboard pattern I had made.

I laid the chalked piece of felt on top of the second piece and slowly machine-stitched inside the chalk lines, starting with the straight line across the bottom of the cars. It went amazingly fast.  And,  I like to think the slightly misshapen cars simply add to the "charm."

No, it's not snowing nor is it dandruff.  I found some glittery stiff felt.

I think I covered everything.  I hope I covered enough to give you some ideas.

I will wrap (hey, that's almost a pun) this quiet book project up by posting on how I am going to do the wrap/cover as soon as I decide how I am going to do it. I am working on a three ring design so pages can be added or removed as the play-ee outgrows or "ingrows" them, as the case may be. Or, as each page (which is actually two pages) is finished --- kinda like a page of the month gift!

Keep an eye open for next Friday's post.

I will show you how I made the cover. Plus, just as I feared, I have come up with  more page ideas (thanks to Dollar Tree and their fun stuff) and will include them. And, I finished the wild animal weaving page and will show that.

While some of my quiet book ideas are time-consuming, many are easy and quick enough to make  you could start now and have a book completed by Christmas.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Simple No-Sew Activity Books to . . .

help you out if you don't sew or are in a time crunch for making gifts for those you love. . .

and/or for those who need a little love. 

'Tis the Season for gift-giving but for those in special circumstances or who have special needs there is no special season.  Anytime is the right time if you have a little extra time.

Besides your own children or grandchildren, think of all the places (even for adults) were they would be lovingly welcomed:  Safe Houses and Homeless Shelters, Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation Centers, Hospitals, personal homes of those we may be aware of who are less fortunate than we are. 

These books are simple, quick, inexpensive, adaptable for any age and ability level, and can be used over and over again.  No sewing nor skill required.


1. Remove coloring or activity pages from magazines or coloring/activity books or print them from the computer. (There are many free printable pages available for all age and interest levels).

2. Insert the pages into page protectors. You can put the two sheets back-to-back in each protector.

3. Put in a thin 3-ring binder. 

4. Include a small box of dry-erase crayons or markers and a small piece of cloth for erasing.

I buy most of my binders at thrift stores.  They often come with page protectors already in them. Even if you buy them new, there are soft vinyl ones available, in bright colors, at Wal-Mart for $1.00.  When I need new page protectors I use 50 percent off coupons  at craft stores. A inexpensive zippered pencil pouch that has holes to fit the binder rings is great for holding the crayons/markers and cloth.

If you want more information, here are three helpful.




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Button Up with this Quiet Book Page . . .

I'm posting  this extra middle-of-the-week quiet book page in case you  are making one for a Christmas present.  I made this page early in my marathon project but forgot to include it..

It is another simple and quick page which teaches a very important skill.
The flowers are just something I had on hand from other projects and added for
 extra texture. I probably won't do it on the others.

I searched the 25 cent rack at the thrift store and bought shirts
that had large buttons.  Using pinking shears (so the edges wouldn't ravel) I cut out shirt shapes and sewed the shoulders, arms and sides to the quiet book page.

For our kids quiet books 45 years ago a simple shirt shape cut from felt completed the button page. Well, almost completed it, I did have to sew a button and cut a button hole! They were completely happy with simply buttoning and unbuttoning with nothing else to do on the page.

This time I added something to find when the shirt is unbuttoned. I didn't mean to have it showing beneath the shirt however.

Another pre-made pocket, this one with a pocket flap providing an additional button. 

You can leave the pocket empty---or fill it with a small note pad
and pencil or any number of things. They items could change as the child got older. I found these little magnetic hair activities in a package in the birthday party favors section of Wal-Mart and couldn't resist.  I haven't seen these in ages and have never seen mini-ones. Our kids loved them when they were kids (and when I showed these to a visiting 40+ son recently, he was excited to see them again!)

Before I close I want to refer you to another great quiet book site where all the pages are made from used baby clothing.

It is so cute!!! I may have to make one myself. 


(If you don't have baby or toddler clothes laying around, they are easy to find at garage sales or thrift shops. In our area, most of the thrift shops sell their baby clothes for 50 cents each)

I am posting again tomorrow. A special post on NO SEWING books that are simple, quick, and inexpensive. For those you love and/or for those that need a little love. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Wrapping Up" Weaving Page 10

Before I show you my more time-consuming weaving pages, I want to tell you what I am hoping to do for the remaining pages in this category.  I can't show you because I don't have what I need yet.  I think you will be able to picture it.  Felt pieces are available in a variety of animal skin prints. I want to use this variety for my weaving strips.  The "discovery" page a group  of various wild animals---protected by what else?  a sheet protector.

#5 A Colorful and Textured  Variation of #1

This time I added sticky-back foam flowers in colors to match the felt background.
I added additional security by using thread to fastening down the flowers, creating petals in the process.
#6 is visual, tactile, and might make you think you are seeing things-----or not
Pretty much the same weaving strips as the others. I could have just
skipped right to the discovery but this was scanned before I thought of that!
This discovery is a take-off of another popular quiet book page---one I wasn't sure I wanted to undertake but my curiosity, fueled by the popularity of "I spy" on other blog sites, got the best of me.

This "discovery" page is a modified version of quiet book I Spy pages.
Nothing like this existed when I made our kids' original books.  
You can find many variations and instructions, with ideas for many add-in possibilities, for full page "I Spy" pages on the internet.

For my  reduced version I used two heavy-duty zip lock bags, one inside the other, hopefully thick enough to keep it from ever "leaking."

I filled the interior bag with rice, assorted beads and a variety of little flattish-type objects (again, guarding as best I can against including anything that would tend to puncture the bag). The baseball, snake, large lady bug, turtle and lizard are foam sticky-back stickers that I stuck to the outside of the inner bag before I placed that bag in the second bag. (If you look closely you might spy a soft plastic black widow spider peeking out from under the lizard). I zipped each closed, pushing out as much air as I could and stitched felt pieces along the top and bottom. I sewed the top of the bag to the felt background but left the bottom of it loose with just a small piece of Velcro on the backside of the bottom binding to secure the bag  at the bottom.

and finally . . .

#7 weaving "doesn't take the cake" (another old saying that, when I think about it, don't even know what it means exactly but do know I am using it correctly) but it does top the pie

Yes, the white object at the bottom needs some refining.
No, it  is not a shoe!
Look again and take a guess.
What  could go alone with a pie?

And the discovery . . .
Did you guess a pie server?

The pie filling is a piece of scrap-book paper. There were quite a few green leaves/stems on the page so I cut out extra strawberries and covered as many  as I could. Next I covered the filling with another trusty page protector, stitched across it to create the sections, with one section cut free.

I backed the removable slice by stitching on a felt crust a which had the sticking half of Velcro sewed to it,
so it would stay in the pie. Added the pinking sheared pie edging --- and went to find something sweet to eat!

The needs-refining pie server is two pieces of glittery craft foam stitched together to make it somewhat stiff. The glittery-ness makes it stick to the felt but I added the elastic strap to keep it more securely in place.

Watch for my last pages --- the combo middle pages --- next week.

'til we stitch ---- or eat ---- again

         I'm Simply, Gail

Friday, November 22, 2013

Weaving Our Way to Quiet Book Page 9

I don't remember whether our kids liked the weaving page or not but I am assured by daughter-in-law Cheri it is a must.  Checking other quiet book sites, they all agree with Cheri.  Most have included them.  As usual, I looked at several and then took off on my own--- making several variations.

As a result, the weaving page in the 12 books is the only page that will not be the same in each. Because there are several different ones I am going to spread the examples over two Fridays.

Most are very simple ---- a couple not so.

And, once again, I have put something to be discovered when the weaving is "un-weaved."  Just like I did with the snake page.  It is totally unnecessary but it is one of my things.

I will start with the simple.

The first thing I did was "to put whatever I decided to have discovered" on the felt page.

I found it easiest to cut the strips, pin them in place and weave them before sewing them. I cut them longer than needed and trimmed them after the page was finished.  I discovered that if you have the same colors of strips vertically and horizontally  the pattern is different than if you use all different colors.  You will see what I mean when you look at the pictures.

 #1 - Weaving with White

Weaving with vertical colors and white horizontals creates a 
simple checkerboard pattern.

The "discovery" is simply a piece of printed felt
sewn to the base sheet.  I used matching colors for the strips.

#2 - Weaving with mainly matching strips. 
Notice how using mainly the same colors across the top
and sides creates 3-color -block rectangles.
This "discovery" is simply  a section cut from a sheet of scrap-booking paper
 (which was on sale!)
covered in one layer of a plastic sheet protector and stitched in place.

 #3 - Weaving with all different colors
Using all different colors for your strips results in a
simple checkerboard pattern.
The "discovery" in this one is another section of the
scrap-booking paper above.
#4 Weaving using more "boyish" colors
Using only one color, this time vertically, creates a
regular checkerboard look, as in #1 where I used white
strips horizontally.
This "discovery" is a section of flannel I had originally purchased
thinking I would use it to make a match-the-paw print page.
I made the strips from the same colors in the fabric.
#5 - Weaving and. . .hand sewing the strips
With this one I hand-stitched the strips.  Notice each strip is sewn in it's matching color yarn!

I know that sounds like an insane undertaking ---- and it probably is ---- 

but I want to show you a cheap trick on how to accomplish this without needing to buy a bunch of different colors of yarn.
Multi-color skeins!  The length of each color is long enough
to be of use.  I used the muted colors for tails, etc.on  page 4 Mix and Match.
This little trick might come in handy several times over time.

While I really like the look of the matching yarn on the strips  I don't think I am up to doing it 12 times.

I  looked into multi-colored thread (which I hadn't known existed until I read about it on a quiet book blog) and thought that would be fun to use so I took my 40 percent off coupon and headed to JoAnn's.  I figured it would be expensive but hadn't imagined how expensive.  Over $8 per spool. That is when, while I was creative with the yarn, the cheapskate part of me kicked in and I did the others with plain white thread!

If you scroll back up, you'll find white looks okay, and it's a lot easier than changing the thread on the sewing machine.
This "discovery" is another sheet of patterned felt. I tried to
match the strips to all the colors in the pattern.  It may seem like a
lot colors of felt "squares" (they are actually 9x12") to buy but when you are just making one of two
books it only takes an inch or so of one length of the the piece, leaving
a lot of felt to use in the other parts of the book.

When/if you do need to change thread here are a couple of hints 
I use:

This sounds complicated but it is not.  I will use blue as the thread you have been using and red for the next thread you want to use to see if that simplifies the instructions.
1. Leave the sewing machine threaded with the blue thread, and cut that blue thread off near the spool.
2. Remove the blue spool and replace it with the red spool.
3. Using a square knot (granny knots will pull out), tie the ends of the blue and red threads together.
4. Carefully pull the blue thread  through the workings workings and through the needle, until the red thread comes through.  (It does waste some thread but for me, with my declining eyesight and increasingly shaky hands, it saves my sanity.)

For these books, I have not found it necessary to change the color of the bobbin thread when changing the top thread. Another time saver!

And, in hand sewing and  working with several colors, I thread needles in the needed colors before I start. This may not be an issue. This may not be a big issue when making one or two books but it is a big help when making many of the same at the same time --- as in. . .probably the final pages I will post will be the companion center pages of the book.  Those involve 12 approximately 2-inch-high stop lights with red, yellow and green circles hand sewn on each!!!

'til we stitch again....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

DIY Shaped Cakes without Special Pans

I realize this is only Thursday.  My regular post will appear tomorrow as usual.

This past week I received a request on my Teddy Bear Cake post of February 8, 2012.
Since she included her e-mail address I responded personally, but then decided I wanted to share what I found with all of you.

Here is the Teddy Bear Cake site---I love this little guy!


Her request:

Hi, I used to have a book to make all kinds of cutout cakes, somehow I have lost it and would like more patterns for our grand children. Can you help? I am making the rocking horse for our Grandson's 1st Birthday, just as I did for my son.  Norma

Here is the Rocking Horse site--Heidi's first birthday cake (and first taste of anything sweet!) 49 years ago. 


along with comments received when the post  first appeared.

Thanks for posting this image online. Back in March of 1981, my mother made this cake for my father's birthday. Right now I am in the middle of recreating a photographs from that day, in which the cake has a role. My mother lost the book that the pattern came from so we were going to have to try and make it from memory. I did an image check through Google and came up with your black and white image of the cake and your patterns.  We are going to make the cake tomorrow. I am excited, but probably not as much as my mom. I'll document the process and blog it a bit later.

Thanks! My daughter is turning FORTY-SIX and has asked for this cake every year for a long time. I lost the old Pillsbury pattern and this is a lifesaver for her birthday this week!

It was great to be able to help them  recreate their  memories.

To help Norma I did some internet searching myself.  Here is what I found. Hopefully it will be of help to

Hi Norma,
I, to, used to have that great little book.  And have missed it many times. I remember it had a sailboat which was easy to make, starting with a square cake; and a butterfly, and a giraffe.  Hopefully just mentioning them will recall them to your memory. 
I did a little internet searching and found many on heart shapes, which use one round and one square cake but also found  the following. Hope they will be of some help
to you.  

Open book cake

Giant cupcake

How to make your own cake pans

Numbers made from cake

Elmo cake

Star cake

Princess Castle cake (with photos off to the side showing other types of castles

47 years ago I made a clown cake for our 3 year old twin relatives.  It was time-consuming but a hit.  I have a photo but I am not sure how to copy it to here. I will try.
I can't remember the details but here is the gist of it. I think the body was a rectangle. The head a round pan. The hat was half a round with graham crackers frosted and standing "up" for the brim.  The clown had "shoes" placed at an angle against one end of the rectangle so the soles would be up. They  were also graham crackers frosted together like a sandwich, allowed to soften a while so one end could be gently carved into the round shape at the front of the sole. Square sandwiched crackers were placed at the other end for the heels of the sole.  

A few years later I made Heidi a doll cake using a Barbie-type doll and a cake baked in a bowl.  They were very popular back then;  they might be novel now.
Thanks for writing. 

Happy creating ,

Simply, Gail

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ouiet Book Page 8---Braid Her Hair

I debated a long time over including a braiding page in the quiet book.  One of the main reasons for the debate --- I am not good at creating faces---especially eyes! It finally came to me that I am the one who cares about details, not the little kids who are going to be playing with it.

Before I show you what I did, I want to tell you why I did it and how it can be done differently.

1.  My face parts are simply basic (and somewhat rough) shapes from a single layer of felt.  They "stick" well enough to the face, without any extra stick-um stuff.  Yours could be as elaborate as you feel like, and have the ability, to make them.

2. My hair is yellow because I was lucky enough to          
find pre-cut fleece strips in a bag at a thrift shop.
There were three packages in the bag for $1.99 ---
quite a bargain.  Unfortunately they only had yellow.
You could use yarn, ribbon, or even clean mop strings!
When our granddaughter Siera saw this page she told me
that her mom taught her to braid using three different colors.
I think that's a great idea!

3. Since the fleece is very soft and pliable I was able to make bangs that"fold down" over the forehead.  I left the top of the head open so it could be used as a holder (of something)

4. Again, when I was in the doubting stage of this page, I was uncertain as to what to put on the page along with the face and hair. There were many possibilities.

I decided a simple piece of clothing. It could have been made of fabric or felt or any number of things but since I am making
12 of them I wanted something that would come together quickly ---- plus, as I have said before, I like to add texture when I can.  Is smooth a texture?

I cut a rectangular piece of printed scrapbook paper as a simple dress shape, cut a collar from a contrasting piece, and an under-collar from white with edges cut with scalloped paper scissors. I fastened them together with bits of 2-sided tape and slipped it into a "pocket" cut from a page protector sheet, using the sealed edge of the page as the top. I zig-zag stitched around the page leaving the top of the "dress" open to make a second pocket.

I am pretty sure I have mentioned page protectors before. I am using them in several ways on various pages.

Oh and, just because (and because I had them), I threaded an narrow piece of ribbon through a button, and taped the ends of the ribbon under the collar before I put it in the plastic sleeve.

The pockets  hold the  face pieces and, according to the age of the recipient and your caution level, ribbons, barrettes, etc.

The two flowers at the bottom of the page are felt die-cuts with a small piece of Velcro on the back so they will fasten in her hair.

I decided there needed to be more face parts to play with so I made another mouth, another pair of eyes,
two noses and  a pair of glasses.  I considered making ears but Dave pointed out that since the braids would cover them so they weren't necessary.  Before you see the next picture I have to warn you that as I turned the face over to scan it some parts got kinda catawampus (showing my age, that's an old term for askew or awry) but it is easier to acknowledge the catawampus-ness than it is to re-scan it.

Again, they can be very, very simple, they can be moderate, or you can get "carried away."  I am Simply, Gail, but sometimes I get carried away.  I can promise you the ones I made for our kids when they were young fell in the very simple category.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More of the Way Things Were 'Back Then'

A continuation of  Slow Food with the author's 

MEMORIES from a friend : 

My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother's house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it.. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. 

Do you recognize what the glass soda pop bottle had been "re-purposed" as? 

Note from Gail: Because I too am old, I knew immediately what it was --- the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to 'sprinkle' clothes with because we didn't have steam irons.

Irons? you ask! 

Since I am younger than the author, by the
time I was watching my mother iron, we had 
pre-made sprinkling tops for our pop bottles        
was watching my mother iron, we had pre-made 
sprinkling tops for our pop bottles. 

Ahh, such progress. 

How Old Are You?

The author continues with the question, "How many of the following do you remember?"
  • Head lights dimmer switches on the floor. 
  • Ignition switches on the dashboard. 
  • Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall. 
  • Real ice boxes. 
  • Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards. 
  • Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
  • Curling irons you heated on a gas burner. 
  • Using hand signals for cars without turn signals. 

And then offers an Older Than Dirt Quiz, followed by scores : 

Are you game to take it?

Count all the ones that YOU personally  remember ---- not the ones you were told about. 

1. Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water 
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles 
5. Coffee shops or diners with table-side juke boxes 
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers 
7. Party lines on the telephone
8 Newsreels before the movie 
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax 
11.. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (there were only 3 channels... [if you were fortunate]) 
12. Peashooters 
13. Howdy Doody 
14. 45 RPM records 
15. S& H green stamps 
16. Hi-fi's
17. Metal ice trays with lever 
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulbs
20. Packards
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns 
23. Drive-ins
24. Studebaker  (note from Gail: my parents gave me a 1951 model in 1960.)
25. Wash tub wringers 

If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older 
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You' re older than dirt! 

Finally, the author concluded with "I might be older than dirt but those memories are some of the best parts of my life".

I am Simply, Gail, and I recognized ALL of them! And, I am thankful that I can. Life was simpler than and these two post were a great memory trip for me, also.

Count your blessings and have a great day!