Monday, April 11, 2011

Tutorial: The Ultimate Activity Book

I told you about my Ultimate Activity Book (my entry for Round 2 of SYTYC) on Friday. Would you like to make one yourself? It’s really quite easy! Funny story: the Monday evening round 1 was posted Nolan asked me when the next round’s entry was due. I wasn’t sure and said, “Probably some time soon, I should probably check on that.” Turns out it was due Thursday. So Tuesday I took Jace treasure hunting through 3 different thrift stores before heading (empty handed) to Goodwill. I found my inspiration, but couldn’t work on it that evening because I still had to finish my Easter dress for Kiki’s All About Easter Event. Wednesday I spent the day picking my mom up at the airport. So this project was made in less than two hours on Wednesday evening. Just in time to take pictures Thursday morning before heading to work. So when I say it’s easy, I really mean it’s easy (with some simple sewing skills)!

My “before” materials (a bag for of miscellaneous craft supplies and a photo album).


I also used leftover fabric from the diaper bag I made for Jace before he was born. If you can’t find a photo album, I think a 3 ring binder would work great. In fact, I’ll be making another one of these for my sister-in-law and will be using a binder for hers.

Star by making a book cover (this took me back to my jr. high and high school days of covering text books with paper sacks). Lay your book open on your outside fabric and cut around it, leaving about a half inch to 3/4 inch for your seam allowance.

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Cut two more pieces (I used contrasting fabric because I didn’t have enough of the striped) for the inside You’ll be making a pocket for the covers). These will be the same height as your outside piece of fabric. I would have gone all the way to the center with my inside pieces, but didn’t have a wide enough piece of fabric.

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Now that you have your main pieces, cut, you’ll want to figure out the layout of the outside of the book.

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I cut a piece big enough to make a pocket for the eraser and then added 1/4 inch to all sides. I did the same thing for a pocket for the calculator. For the strap holding the tape I measured how long it would need to be to fit around the roll of tape and still have enough room to snap down.

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I also laid out the pencils to figure out how tall of a pocket I would need along the bottom. I cut it so the selvage would be along the top that way I wouldn’t need to stitch it to finish it off. I then cut a piece of ric rac the length of that pocket and pinned it on.

My first actual sewing step was to sew the ric rac on. I did two lines of stitching to hold it in place.

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The next step was sewing the strap for the roll of tape.

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I just folded it in half length wise and sewed down the open end.

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I used my FAVORITE sewing tool—a long hook that I used to use to turn hair scrunchies inside out. I just stick it through my tube, hook it to one end, and then pull through.

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And wa-la! Right side out. Then I turned the ends in, and sewed around the whole strap to finish it off.

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I attached snaps to both ends using my beloved snapper tool.

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Next I pressed all the sides in on the pockets.

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Then sew the top fold down and then sewed the pockets around the three sides onto the cover, as well as sewed around the snap to attach the strap to the cover.

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Now put your items in the pockets/strap and enjoy the fact that it’s coming together!

Ok, enough enjoying! Now pin the pencil pocket to the front cover, and sew lines up it, 1 inch or so apart to make lots and lots of individual pencil pockets.

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You’re now done with all the extra embellishing and it’s finally time to sew the cover together. With right sides together, pin the inside pieces to the outside and sew around it using a 1/4” seam allowance.

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For the middle spine section that doesn’t get sewn to the inside fabric, snip it and then press down that tab. Sew it down wrong sides together.

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You’re done with your cover!!!!!

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Next I glued the manila envelopes to the pages of the photo album, and then glued scrap book paper over the top.

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I cut words out of vinyl using my Silhouette, but stickers or just writing would work great as well. I labeled each pocket for its contents.

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I also labeled the front cover page. It would be fun to personalize this page with something like “Jonny’s Activity Book.”

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My pocket pages included envelopes and paper

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Rubber bands and shapes

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Some empty, unlabeled pockets for future use

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And a page just labeled “Projects”

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I also trimmed out each pocket page with paper clips to help with attaching art projects in the future.

I LOVE how this book turned out!

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Thanks for stopping by! If you happen to make one yourself, I’d LOVE to see pictures!
Please take a moment to check out the awesome link up parties I’ll be joining in with. Their buttons are in my right sidebar and on my link up parties page.


  1. Oh I love it! What a great idea, and awesome colours - it looks like fun!

  2. This is so creative and adorable.

  3. This is really fanTASTIC!! It's right up my alley! Love it, love it : )

  4. Okay *love*. That is so creative. I must try this. Oh, and where do you buy the snap tool? And what's it called? I didn't know there was such a thing!


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