When your design style is heavily influenced by the psychedelic and nature focused art of the ’60s and ’70s as well as artists such as Mary Blair and Alexander Girard, it’s safe to say your work will put a smile on someone’s face. Lucky for us, Lisa Cartrette isn’t keeping all that joy to herself. The illustrator, sewist and Fall 2019 Small Business Grantee behind kid’s clothing company Bashful Birdie Handmade and Spoonflower shop bashfulbirdie is sharing how to recreate her cut-and-sew soft book that we guarantee will brighten your day. The perfect handmade baby shower gift or soft book for your little one requires just a yard of Petal Signature Cotton™ and can be sewn in under two hours. Ready to get started?
DIY Soft Book Materials
Bonus: The illustrations at the bottom of the fabric are just for fun if you want to use them to embellish the book.
Step 1: Prep Your Fabric
Wash and dry your fabric and iron if needed. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.
Step 2: Cut Out Your Fabric
Now that everything is clean and ready to go, we’re going to cut out each two-page book spread, being careful to keep the ones that are beside each other together. The yellow arrows on the fabric are helpful guides to show you which spreads need to be book buddies. Feel free to use the guide below for reference as you cut!
If you want to make the optional handle, cut out two pieces of the striped fabric located in the center of the fabric about 6″ long to make a handle for tiny grabbers to hold on to.
Step 3: Cut Slits into the Book Pages
Cut the indicated slits (gray dashed line) open on the three designated page spreads. Cutting the slits will allow you to turn the spreads right side out after we sew. Don’t worry—you won’t see these when we’re done!
Optional step: Personalize Your Book
If you want to personalize the book with a child’s name or your own using the fabric marker/crayons or embroidery (recommended), you should do that now while the book isn’t assembled. If using the fabric markers or crayons practice on a scrap piece of fabric first and follow the packages instructions. When you’re satisfied with the results, write the name on the book and follow any instructions on the package to make it permanent. If you want to embroider a name, use the disappearing marker to write the name, then embroider it on with the thread of your choice and secure it in place with interfacing or the method of your choosing. This is a book intended for small children, so remember that and make sure everything stays in place.
You can find some helpful embroidery tips from artist Robert Mahar here!
Optional step: Create the Handle
Take the two pieces of striped fabric you cut for the handle in step 2. Pin and sew a straight line down both long sides of the rainbow handle with the right sides together. Trim the seam allowance back to about ⅛” and then turn it right side out and press flat. Fold the rainbow strip in half so the two short raw ends are touch and press the fold to create the handle.
Step 4: Cut the Batting to Fit the Spreads
The cover spread will get two layers of batting so it’s thicker than the inside pages. I like to do this so it feels more sturdy but you can choose not to double up on the cover batting if you prefer. Take your batting, place it on your table and then place two of the book spreads (see guide below) on top, right sides facing. Pin or clip everything in place. The two matching spreads should be on the top with the right sides together and the batting will be on the bottom. Make sure that the spread you cut has the slit on top! This is very important! Trim the batting so it’s slightly larger than the spread.
If using the optional handle, be sure to sandwich it between the front cover and “this book belongs to” spread like the pictures below.
Step 5: Sew the Spreads Together
Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew the spreads together around all four sides. I like to use my presser foot as a guide while I have my needle set in the middle.
Step 6: Prepare Your Fabric for Turning
Once you have all the spreads sewn, trim them the seam allowance down to about ⅛”. Clip the corners so that when you turn them out they come to neat points.
Step 7: Turn the Fabric Right Sides Out
Turn the spreads right side out through the slits we cut and make sure to poke the corners out. A chopstick or point turner works great for this step. Press each spread with the iron so they lay flat.
Step 8: Assemble the Book
Using the guide below, layer the book spreads.
Step 9: Mark the Stitch Lines
With the “top” spread facing up, line a straight ruler up with each edge of the rainbow handle and “spine” on the outside cover spread and mark a line on each side with a disappearing marker or chalk. Use clips to hold in place.
Step 10: Stitch the Book Together
Carefully sew along these lines backstitching at the beginning and end of each line. Clip your threads and admire your finished book!
I hope you and the little one in your life enjoys reading (or chewing) on the new soft book you handmade for them. I’ve always had a passion for writing and illustrating children’s books and I’m so happy I can use Spoonflower as a fun way to share my books with the world.
Use hashtags #sunnysgardenbook and #spoonflower so we can see all your finished books—I’d love to see them!
About the Guest Author
Lisa Cartrette is an illustrator and designer living in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina. She was introduced to fine art by her grandmother at a young age and has been involved in it ever since. Lisa studied art studio at Coastal Carolina University before switching to a major in graphic design. She combined her love of sewing with her love of illustration and began designing her own fabric to use in her sewing projects. When she isn’t working or taking care of her two sons, she’s sewing clothing and accessories for her business Bashful Birdie Handmade using the fabric she designs. See more of Lisa’s makes on Instagram @bashfulbirdie and @bashfulbirdiehandmade