How to make a fabric book using upcycled fabric

Hi Creative Mamas! I am so keen to share with you how to make a fabric book! Up cycling fabric and old clothes into beautiful handmade gifts is my absolute favorite! There is something very special about creating possibilities of new lives and new uses for worn out and outgrown clothes, little fabric scraps and left over yarn.

Fabric book tutorial + Video tutorial

I have included a video of the whole fabric book making process as well for you to have the option to follow the video or the photo tutorial.

In this tutorial I will show you how to make a fabric book using a worn out little baby top, fabric scraps, left over hand dyed yarn, old buttons and a lot of love. My friend’s baby is turning one, and she is organizing a birthday party to celebrate this little baby’s big day.

As a special gift I have made a fabric baby gift book. I wanted this book to be a celebration of baby’s first year and I wanted to use materials that are close to her mom’s heart. This fabric book is not a quiet baby book. It’s a special gift for mom to keep for when baby is old enough to read it together. It’s a keepsake for mom and for baby when she grows up 🙂

So I have used one of the baby ‘s outgrown little outfits as the star of this fabric book. I will be up cycling this cute purple little top which she used constantly since she was 3 months old and her mom is very fond of it.

My intention is that by up cycling the top in this fabric book, this very much loved garment can keep being part of this baby’s life. It will also give mom an opportunity to keep a representation of all the happy memories that she has of her baby wearing this top and treasure them for ever.

I will be using the top’s fabric in combination with other fabric scraps to create the applique designs. The Applique pattern of the baby and the fabric book layout guide is free for you to download from the Free Resource Library. You can get it by completing the form below.

What is the difference between a fabric book and a quiet book?

The main difference is that a quiet book is an activity book that generates some sort of interaction with the readers. The readers are typically small children and the activities are meant to be a learning and playful experience for them. A Fabric book can be a bit more comprehensive in terms of its use and its typically made as a result of a fabric collage project which is meant to be treasured and kept over the years as a keepsake.

Both fabric book and quiet books are soft books made out of fabric and felt. Check out this amazing Quiet Book tutorial to learn how to make a dress up quiet book for girls.

If you want to learn how to make a fabric book cover check out this tutorial with step by step illustrations and free applique pattern.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Equipment and Materials:

How to make a fabric book with upcycled fabric TUTORIAL

Step 1: Choosing your upcycled fabric

Gather your fabric scraps. Make sure they are 100% cotton and that they are pre- washed. This will ensure a good bond when you get to the iron on applique part of this tutorial.

How to make a Fabric book 1

For this special fabric book I am using this cute little cotton top that this baby girl has used non stop for a few months and she has now outgrown it. Her mom is very attached to the memories of her baby wearing this top so hopefully she will be delighted when she gets the fabric book and the top is part of it :).

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I am also up cycling some naturally dyed wool yarn which I have dyed using eucalyptus and got this lovely yellow color.

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Print out the FREE Baby Applique Patterns, prepare the adhesible fusing, your cutting equipment as well as your matching color threads. I will be using several Applique Patterns in this tutorial which you can purchase here.

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Step 2: Preparing the fabric book pages

Using the quilting ruler and the guidelines on your cutting mat, cut 8 pieces of fabric measuring 11 inches by 10 inches. Each of these will be a page in the book.

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How to make a Fabric book 7

Step 3: Sewing the fabric book pages

It’s time to prepare the books pages. So, let’s start by making the book’s cover. The first thing we will do is to sew two pages together. These are the front cover and the back cover.

I want to sew the front and the back cover together before applying the applique because I want to have a continuous design. I am going to applique a banner which starts on the front cover and finishes on the back cover.

I am using a ¼ inch seam allowance and my machine is set with a reverse pattern foot which is my favorite presser feet from Bernina it’s the presser foot number 1. I find this foot works great with a variety of fabrics and different thicknesses. And our book will get thicker and thicker as we go along 😊

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So we have sewn 2 pages together which will be the front and back cover for the book, we now need to sew another two pages together which will be the middle of the book. Don’t worry this will all be made clear once we get to the step of putting the whole book together.

Press the seams open.

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Step 4: Quilting the fabric book pages

We need to cut the batting for the covers and the middle pages of the book. So go ahead and make sure that the batting is the same size as the pages sewn together. I like to use my scissors for this step.

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Step 5:

We are going to quilt the front and back covers and the middle pages of the book using the quilting technique quilt as you go. It’s my favorite way to quilt and a great way to create texture before applying the applique.

Place the batting and the double page on top. Move to the sewing machine and start quilting vertical lines parallel to the center seam line. Start by quilting from the center out. Start on the center and quilt towards the right. When you get to the end go back to the center and quilt towards the left.

You can choose to use a longer stitch for this step as well as a walking foot if you have one.

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How to make a Fabric book 12

By using quilt as you go you are incorporating the batting at this early stage and you are also creating a beautiful texture through the quilting process. This texture will be beautiful in combination with the applique :).

QUICK RECAP: We have 2 double pages which have been quilted and are now ready to be appliqued on. We also have 4 individual pages which will be appliqued individually before sewing them.

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Step 6: Fabric applique

Start by tracing the applique designs to the adhesible fusing. We are using the lite quality fusing so that doesn’t create any stiffness or changes the texture of the fabric.

Trace the cake, the cupcake, the banner and the baby. Trace the individual parts onto the paper side of the heat and bond fusing.

Be sure to number the individual parts of the applique patterns so that you can keep track of where to place each little piece.

Once you have traced all the needed pieces onto the fusible paper its time to cut them.

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The applique patterns can be used with different types of applique methods. They have a solid line and a dotted line. In this case we need to cut on the solid line because the applique will be fused straight on the base fabric. This means we don’t need to have a seam allowance. If you were using needle turned applique then you would need to cut on the dotted line because you would need the seam allowance.

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Step 7:

Play around with your fabric scraps and decide what fabrics you will use for each applique piece.

Place your fabric with the wrong side up and put the pattern piece paper side up. The fusible side of the paper that has the glue needs to be in contact with the wrong side of the fabric.

Now place a hot iron on top of the pattern piece making sure the iron is set on no steam. Always follow the fusible adhesive manufacturers instructions during this step. Cut around the marked pencil lines and place your applique pieces on your page.

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Follow the drawing on the patterns or create your own design , just have fun! When you are happy with the design you can peel off the paper liner. Press the applique piece with a hot non steam iron.

To create a good bond against the fabric page make sure to press and hold the iron for 6 seconds on each section, overlapping slightly until entire shape is bonded.

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Keep building up your applique shapes and feel free to mix different color fabric scraps.

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There are many other creative sewing methods and techniques that you can use to further embellish your book pages, the sky is the limit!

Step 8:

For the next two double pages I will decorate each single page separately. However, in order to create the design I will treat them as a double page even though they will not be sewn together.

I have cut a rectangle shape piece out of the upcycled baby top and I am particularly interested in using the edge of the top because it has a nice little trim. I will use this piece of fabric to create a pocket in the book for mom to keep little memories from the birthday party.

I am also using the top’s fabric to make an applique little teddy bear which will be on the opposite page.

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Sew a stay stitch around the pocket to set the it in place on the page.

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For the other page simply iron on the applique following the same process as in 7.

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For the next two single pages l have used the baby applique pattern.

Keep embellishing adding as much little details as you like by repeating the bonding process in step 7. This part is super fun! I was inspired by these little applique patterns and I was trying to recreate the designs with my different color fabric and yarn.

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When you are done applying all the applique pieces in all the pages, sew the yarn in order to create vertical lines . My idea is to create a space within the book to clip little mementos from the birthday party such as birthday cards and little labels. Use a wide zig zag stitch on both ends of the yarn.

Step 9:

Sew around the applique pieces making sure to top stitch all around them. I have used my default stitch length and my regular sewing cotton but you can use heavier top stitch cotton if you prefer.

You can also go around the applique as many times as you want. If you go around it a few times you can create a cool cartoon effect which can be delightful. You can also use a very contrasting thread.  In this case I have used a black thread to create a nice outline.

Repeat this process for all pages.

How to make a fabric book tutorial Recap– steps 1-9

  • We have sewn two double pages which have been quilted using the method quilt as you go
  • We have applied the applique to these two double pages
  • We have applied the applique to 4 single pages.
  • The two doble pages are the front and back covers and pages 3 and 4.
  • The  4 single pages are pages 1-6 and pages 5-2

It’s now time to sew this book together, but here is the little trick: We are going to sew pages 1 and 6 together and pages 5 and 2 together.  And when we sew these pages we will leave a gap in the middle. If you get confused at any time just simply come to this illustration and make sure that you are following the right sewing sequence.

These are the front and back covers:

These are pages 3 and 4 which I have added  a number 1 to reference the birthday number:

These are pages 5 and 2 which I have sewn together as well leaving the gap in the middle

These are pages 1 -6 which I have sewn together and left a gap in the middle.

Make sure to Press the seams open.

Step 10:

Now that we have all the double pages finalized and completed we have to sew the book.

Sew pages 1-6 with front and back cover.

Sew pages 5-2 with double page 3 – 4.

Place double pages right sides together and sew around.

But before you do so make sure to trim all uneven edges using the cutting mat and the quilting ruler to make sure that all double pages are the same size.

Step 11:

Clip the corners. Turn pages inside out through the middle gap.

With the help of a crochet needle make sure to push those corners out to make them as sharp as possible and press the book pages with a hot steamy iron.

Step 12:

Using your preferred hand sewing stitch close the gap in the middle pages. You can also use an embroidery stitch for this step.

Step 13:

The last thing to do is to bind the whole book together. We will do this by sewing through all the pages using with an embroidery thread through the spine of the book.

Thread a hand sewing needle with a double thread. Start sewing through the middle of the book , between the 2 double pages so that the knot is hidden and pull the thread up all the way to the middle pages.

Make a stitch ½ inch in length and sew through all the layers. You need to come up to the spine of the book. Sew another stitch ½ inch in length and repeat the process. Make 3 or 4 stitches all together.

You can choose to do this in 1, 2 or 3 places along the spine. In this case I have done it in 2 places to ensure a nice bond.

Fabric book finishing touches

At this stage the book is finished but you can choose to make a few final touches. In this case I want to be able to keep this book closed. My intention is for this book to hold memories about this baby’s first year’s birthday so I want to make sure that nothing will fall off or get lost.

I am attaching a pom pom on the front cover with two ties and I will attach an upcycled button on the back cover. Resources for this step:

When sewing the button make sure you are sewing without going through the two pages. You don’t want to see the stitches going through tho page 6.

When applying the pom pom make sure that it’s in the exact same spot on the front cover as the button is on the back cover. Sew it in place by making sure that you are not going through all the layers and that the stitches are not showing on page 1.

The fabric book is now completed! You can even include some little messages for the baby or some little handmade plushies and toys in the pocket as part of the gift.

You can also include some little wooden pegs so that mom can keep all those lovely gift cards that she will receive at the birthday party and she can keep them in the book forever.


Check out this amazing Quiet Book tutorial to learn how to make a dress up quiet book for girls. Also you may be interested in making a fabric collage journal, its a fun and ongoing creative sewing project.

Want to remember this? Save this Tutorial to your favorite Pinterest board!

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