personalized soft book tutorial

This has got to be one of my favorite projects I've done for a while.  It is a child's personalized soft book--complete with a replica doll of the child and filled with photos and words from those close to them.  My older daughters and I put a lot of work into these for the twin's first birthday.

The girls wrote about each child, their likes, favorite activities, and memorable moments and I left a personal message at the end of each book, for each girl.  There were also pieces of artwork from each older daughter in each book.  What a collection of love all in one place.

You'll Need:

8 pieces of differing fabrics, roughly 18 inches by 10 inches (I used all fabrics used for the twins their first year)

2 pieces of 16 inch, wide ribbon

Quilting Sew-In Computer Fabric (be sure it isn't water soluble)

Lightweight batting

  • If you want to put original artwork in the soft book, have your children make it.  My kids used craft paints and fabric markers.  Let it dry and label (using a permanent marker) the painting if necessary including your child's name or their message.

  • Using computer software (Pages for Macs is what I used, or a Microsoft program for a PC works just as well) layout your photos and text you wish to use.  Print on copy paper first to ensure you like the quality and, now using a sewn-in computer fabric, like this, print on the fabric sheets.  Follow the directions they outline.  My fabric sheets required peeling off the back and pressing after printing.  Now cut the printed fabric and press under the seam allowance for each panel you printed.

  • Now lay out the 8 pieces of fabric, deciding which pieces will look best side by side as pages.  Once the fabric pages are organized, each page having a decided fabric front and back (right sides of the fabric in both cases), start to pin all of the printed fabric panels on the right sides of the pages.

  • Begin to sew each panel to their respective pages.  Once each page has a panel sewn, you'll start to assemble the pages themselves.

  • Start with the cover front and back piece.  If you planned to embellish the cover of your soft book, do it now.

  • I sewed my child's embroidered name onto a pocket I created and then sewed the pocket onto the front of the cover front.  Simply eye the spacing for the cover.

  • I took the cover fabric and used it as a template to cut out four layers of batting.

  • Take one layer of the batting and sandwich this way: batting, then cover fabric (right side up), and lastly, inside cover fabric (wrong side up).  Take the short ends of both pieces of ribbon and sandwich each one into the middle of the short end of the sandwiched-book, on both sides.  Pin the ribbons in place, flush to the book.

  • Now pin around the whole page.  Sew, leaving a 1/2 seam allowance, allowing a 3 inch unsewn space to pull the page through to the right side. 
  • Trim the seam allowance, pull out the fabric to the sight side, and use a capped pen or something like it to push out the corners until neat.
  • Press.  Add a decorative or zig zag stitch around each page to complete, including sewing closed the 3 inch opening.
  • Follow the same procedure for all of the pages, excluding sewing in the ribbon.  If there are any other embellishments to the pages, sew them on before you assemble the pages together.  (I sewed velcro on some pages to later add little fabric shapes to be pulled off.)
  • Once you're totally satisfied with the pages, you will now assemble the book together.  Find the middle of the book, pin, and sew three vertical lines to create the binding.
  • Your book is complete!  If you're interested in the personalized doll, I used Amy Karol's template for a girl doll.  If you own her book you can enter a code and grab the template online.  I photoshopped a child's head on to her template and printed on fabric as above mentioned.  Then I cut out the shape, cut out a backing fabric, sewed, stuffed, and sewed the closure.

I hope you try out this adorable soft book.  It will be a treasure for all who make it and all who turn it's pages.