It’s almost time to load the car – or carry on bag – for your family’s summer vacation. For traveling children, fresh playthings bring ease to long journeys and keep small hands and eyes joyfully engaged. Our handmade woodland photo book will delight little ones with interchangeable pictures of friends, family, and pets. Machine sewn of wool felt, the book utilizes clear page protectors (cut to size) to secure photo pockets.
This project creates a book that is lovely in its imperfections. Embrace the rustic look and feel and resist the urge to create a “perfect” book. The imperfection is part of its charm.
Four pieces of medium weight wool felt, at least 8×11 1/2 inches each
Assorted felt scraps
Two clear page protectors (8 1/2 x 11 inches)
Cut your four pieces of felt to size (8 x 11 1/2 inches each). I chose assorted colors, but you may choose a single color for a unified look.
Cut photo pockets from the page protectors as follows: Using a roller cutter and cutting mat, cut six rectangles 4 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches. (The pages are slippery, so apply plenty of pressure with your straight edge.) Set aside. (Alternatively you can repurpose any thin yet sturdy clear plastic that is PVC and BPA free, like a torn shower curtain liner.)
Create and Embellish Cover
Select the piece of felt that will be your book’s cover. Set the other three pieces aside. Lay selected felt piece horizontally in front you. Find the center point and mark a 3/4″ gutter down the middle and a 1/2″ margin on all sides. Embellish the right half (front cover) with felt cut outs. If you are inspired, you may add a simple embellishment to the back cover as well. Glue embellishments in place with Tacky Glue and allow to dry thorougly. When glue is dry, machine or hand sew embellishments in place using matching or coordinating thread.
Employ your greatest patience here. The pages are slippery and tend to scoot around your work area unexpectedly. (Breathe. Focus. Proceed.) Collect your clear pockets and the three inner felt pages. Place a small dot of Tacky Glue in each corner of one clear pocket. Place your first piece of felt horizontally on your work surface. Measure in 1/2″ from the short edge of your first piece of felt and adhere pocket, centering vertically. Repeat, measuring in from the other short edge (the reverse side of the page will be empty). Repeat with two additional pieces of felt. Allow the glue to dry completely before sewing pocket into place. Note: You can measure to be precise, but I eyeball the placement and the babies don’t seem to mind.
Cut it out!
While the glue dries you can organize your fabric stash, vaccuum up those pesky bits of thread all over your craft room floor, and cut out your embellishments for inside the book. The embellishments can be as simple or fancy as you like. Mine include acorns, leaves, mushrooms, branches, and feathers for a summer woodland theme. Try hearts, stars, or geometric shapes if you want to keep it simple or get elaborate with butterflies, beetles, and and ladybugs. Keep each embellishment small – around 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size. Set aside embellishments.
Sew Pockets On
Your glue should be dry by now. Attach pockets on three sides with a large zig-zag stitch. Backstitch at beginning and end of each seam to prevent unraveling. Stitch very close to the edge of the clear pocket.
Using tacky glue, attach your embellishments close to the edges of your pages. They can overlap the pockets slightly at the corners, but not more than 1/2″ or you will have difficulty inserting photographs. Allow a small margin on the outside edge of book as well to prevent the embellishment from becoming caught in the final seams. After glue dries, decoratively stitch into place. (If the book is for an older child, the tacky glue alone can be used. For babies sew the embellishments into place lest wool becomes food.)
Determine the order of your pages. Pair the cover with the page that backs it and then pair the inner pages. Align each pair with right sides out and pin on all sides. Sew each pair of pages with a straight seam around entire edge leaving a scant 1/4 inch margin.
Lay book cover face down on your work surface. Place the inner pages on top and align edges. On the inner page, measure and mark your center line. Pin cover to inner page. Sew center seam to bind cover and pages. Close the book and add an additional seam as close to the edge as you can comfortably sew (my seam is 1/8″ from the edge). This will encourage the book to remain closed when not in use.
Neaten edges of pages if desired. Insert photographs and present to your favorite little one(s). Happy travels!
Rachel Wolf lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and two unschooled children. She owns LüSa Organics, a mindful body care and children’s body care company. She also writes the blog Clean. Rachel spends her days living her bliss in a swirling cloud of living-, playing- mothering-, homeschooling-, writing-, crafting- and work-at-home-mama chaos.