Henry’s Busy Book (And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

First things first – Happy Birthday Henry! I love you so much and you’re growing SO fast! It’s so hard to believe a year has gone by already. You’re a sweetheart and a total charmer with your infectious smile. <3

We just got back from Henry’s first trip to Wisconsin to visit Mike’s family. It was his first plane ride(s) and I was incredibly worried how they would go. So in the week or so beforehand, I decided to make him a Busy Book. We left on Dec 5th, and I had started gathering my materials on Nov 29th. Nothing like leaving something to the last minute, eh?

Potential materials, before TWO more Joann’s runs.

I finished it on Dec 4th, and I’m really quite proud of it!

It lived up to it’s name on the plane rides – moreso on the second where he was being a BUTT and wouldn’t sleep. Mike played with it with him, which I’m sure kept him more entertained than if he’d just been playing alone. But it kept him entertained for what seemed like forever, but was maybe like an hour? On the first trip, he played a little but then fell asleep. Praise Jeebus.

The Pages


The outer cover is a really cool spaceship quilting cotton I got on a whim. I knew I wanted to make something for Henry out of it, but I really didn’t have any solid plans. The sides are folded over and topstitched, and the top and bottom are some sparkly FOE I had. It’s held closed by one piece of the same fabric, cut so it’s just one rocket ship, and two magnetic closures.

The book ended up so big that I actually had to add the strap and closures after the whole thing was DONE so that was a bit fun. There’s no interfacing on the closures so it’s good that there’s not really that much strain. Just a lot of floof.

The inside of the cover (pages 1 and 14) is the remnants from the fat quarters I used for the background of the rest of the book. I cut two 9.5″ high and 18″ wide strips from the FQ to make all the main backgrounds, and then realized I had nothing for the inside of the cover. It was all very last minute. The inside of all the pages is some flat polyfill (it’s not really what I’d call batting but maybe it is?) that I had from some other unknown project. 

I actually completed the cover before I had done anything else. I wanted to see if the ‘filling’ would work, and if I could really pull it off. I liked the result so I went ahead and made the rest.

Pages 1 and 2

Page 1 is a soft teddy bear with googly eyes. He’s made from felt. I topstitched the inside of the ears and the pieces of the muzzle with my machine. The eyes are buttons. I then had to embroider the bear in place by hand because I had already fully completed the cover. (There’s so much I would do differently if I did it again, sigh.)

Page 2 is flowers and bees. My mom had given me a wide variety of kids buttons, including the flowers and the bees. I made the flower stalks out of felt and attached them using my machine. The bees are sewn onto ribbon and machine attached coming out of the clouds.

Pages 3 and 4

Page 3 is Henry’s favorite page so far – Octopus! She’s purple in honor of our huge knitted octopus, Wendy. This octopus’s legs feature pony beads in ROYGBIVL (I needed 8, added a pretty lavender for the last one), 1-8. The octopus is felt, the eyes are the same as the bear’s. The water is also just felt.

Page 4 is flaps, with buttons/numbers under. The flaps are a cute fat quarter I had purchased previously when I got the background fabrics. The buttons I just happened to have on hand. 

Let me tell you, if I never have to hand sew another button ever again, I’d be fine with that. So. Many. Buttons.

Pages 5 and 6

Page 5 is ZIPPERS! Henry loves zipper pulls, though he hasn’t quite figured this page out yet. They are functional zippers in black, white, and navy. I alternated the direction in which they pulled. Behind the zippers is one big pocket, out of a cute owl fabric!

The topstitching on the zippers could be done nicer, but Henry doesn’t mind ;). The squiggles along the sides are to attach the pocket, since I didn’t want it to be the size of the whole page (for structural reasons).

Page 6 is flaps again, but this time a monster matching game. Buttons once again courtesy of my mom :). I had Mike decide where they went once I had sewn the flaps in place. In hindsight I could’ve done it the other way and then the flaps wouldn’t have been in the way when I did the buttons, but you know how hindsight is…

Pages 7 and 8

Pages 7 and 8 are the center of the book, so I was able to go across both pages! I hand drew and cut out each letter of the alphabet from felt and then sewed it in place. For the letters that have all straight lines, I just sewed on as usual. For the ones with curves, I got to try something new – my freehand quilting foot. Boy is there ever a learning curve (badumcha!) with that. But I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

Unfortunately M gets the shaft and is a little bit smooshy. But I think it’s still plenty visible and it’s not going to hurt his learning of the alphabet.

Pages 9 and 10

Page 9 is for colors. Each color ribbon has the same color spelled out in large beads. I threaded the beads and attached the ends of the ribbons with wash away tape to hold until sewing. I then attached a fun polka dot ribbon over the ends of the ribbon that are in the center of the book.

The two last minute Joann’s runs were due to me purchasing the wrong kind of alphabet beads, and then needing to go back to and get a second pack because the first had no O’s or U’s *facepalm*.  I tried to make due without the O’s and U that I needed but when I asked for advice I was told that Orange was the one throwing them off. Oooookay.

I was going to do full ROYGBIV but out of the two packs, There was only one G. Really? It was a horrible assortment of letters!

Poor Indigo.

Page 10 is a maze! It’s a repurposed lingerie bag for the netting, with some white ribbon to make the “maze”. There’s one large marble to push through. It gets a little tight at the ‘end’ because I sooooorta forgot about seam allowances for a second and had to adjust things to make it work. OOPS!

Pages 11 and 12

Page 11 is shapes. Each shape is out of felt. Buttons are attached to the bottom shapes, while elastic loops are attached to the top. In theory he can match the shapes with the elastic. In reality, he pulls on the elastic and lets go so it snaps back. In time…

Page 12 is a pretty ribbon fish. The head and fins are felt, and the loops are all textured ribbon. I had a bit of trouble placing them all nicely, so the loops were ironed into place with stitch witchery as I went. You can see a bit of the top stitching between the loops at the front, but I didn’t want to overlap them so it was bound to happen.

Pages 13 and 14

Page 13 is an apple tree. The apples are felt with button holes in the (approximate) middle. They’re all attached with ribbon, because Henry’s still young enough that I would worry about losing them if they weren’t physically attached. Or them being eaten, oh boy. So they’re attached!

The tree is felt, and so is the barrel. I attached the barrel with a bit of slack, so there’s enough space to tuck all the apples in once they’ve been picked.

Page 14 is once again MORE. BUTTONS. But these ones are more functional than the rest, as they each have a flap of fabric that attaches to them. I had to hand sew on the flaps for this, because remember I finished the whole cover first. grumblegrumble.


In reality the pages are paired up differently than above. Pages 1 and 14 are the inside of the cover. 2 and 13 are one side (teal), paired with 3 and 12. (blue) Same goes for 4/11 (green) and 5/10 (teal), 6/9 (blue) and 7/8 (green).

To create the pages, I laid one of the pairs (like 4 and 11 – all one piece) face up on top of the filling. Then I took 5/10 and placed it right side down on top of that. I stitched around the edge, leaving a 4″ish gap on one of the short sides for turning. After turning, I topstitched the whole thing, to close the gap and give it more structure. 

To put the whole book together, I took each page individually and sewed down the center. This was relatively easy as I had pressed a seam down the center of each page before doing anything to them. Then I attached the cover and the first set of pages (2/13) down the middle, over the previous lines of stitching. Then I attached the inner two sets of pages together in the same manner. THEN I shoved the two sets of pages underneath my machine and started in the very middle, just to see if it was remotely doable. I am really impressed that it managed to sew through all the layers! I did it a couple of times for reinforcement. 

I was paranoid the whole time I put it together that I was going to have a page upside down. I am VERY THANKFUL that was not the case. Everything is where it should be and it looks pretty fantastic (to me). 

I got the whole thing done in less than 5 days. Most of the work was done in the last two days before the trip. But once I set my mind on something, good luck telling me otherwise. It did its job on the trip and will hopefully do so for many trips in the future!