Baby Frankenbook – Putting it all Together

Phew!  So you’ve got some lovely patchy-pockety-buttony book pages, with covers and a toy-on-a-string.  We’re ready to put it all together into a lovely finished book!  At the end of this page I also made a quick drawstring bag for the book to live in, but that’s obviously optional.

Back to Frankenbook Introduction Page

Materials I used for this page:

Khaki coloured lightweight cotton drill for a backing fabric x 2 pieces – one sized 11″ x 24″, and one size 11″ x 23″.  The longer ones (for the covers) are is 1″ longer than the shorter ones for the middle.  This is to allow for an extra 1/2″ of spine space between each pair of pages to fit all the toys and fun bits in so that the book will close better.

Medium thick wadding x 2 pieces the same size as the backing fabric.

11″ of rainbow elastic 1″ wide for the middle of the book.

Fabric for the internal spine sections of the book x 2 pieces (both about 11″ x 4″)

Thinnish cotton fabric to make the binding (I used the same fabric as for the spine sections, cut into 2″ strips and sew together end to end).

Your finished book pages and the toy on a ribbon.

3 pairs of poppers

What I did:

Before I started I drew a line down the centre of both sides of both backing fabrics – this will help later on.  If you haven’t already, now is the time to choose which pages are going where.  Bear in mind how much each page will stick out (try to have only one really fat page per double-page spread), and also which are the heaviest pages (it might be best to have these inside the front/back covers, or as the last page which won’t need to be turned so much).  Make sure you are clear about the order of the pages – number your pages and write it down if needed.

Here are mine in order (I arranged mine before they were quite finished, but you get the idea):

Ok, so first I took my first and last pages and the larger pieces of backing fabric and wadding.  I placed the backing down first, then the wadding, then the pages face-up on top.

I lined up the 1st page to the left edge, and the last page to the right edge.  You’ll have a bit of wadding showing in the middle that we’ll cover in a bit.  Pin the pages down and stitch around the whole thing 5mm from the edge.  I did mine one page at a time to make it easier.  Here it is, side on to show the layers:

Now take one of the spine-section fabrics (mine is black with a dashed white line in the middle – see first pic below).  Pin it face down along the middle edge of the left hand page (middle pic below), and sew along about 1/2″ from the edge.  Open this seam out and top-stitch along it about 2mm from the seam.

Now measure how far the seam you just sewed is from the middle line you drew on the backing fabric (my line was in black marker and I could just see it through the wadding).  Double this and, measuring from your seam again, mark the doubled measurement on the spine fabric.  Fold the fabric along this measurement and pin it down.  It should overlap the right hand page by about 1/2″.  Top-stitch along the folded edge, about 2mm from the fold.

Next I turned the whole thing over (make sure it’s the right way up!) and took my covers and the larger piece of wadding. I sandwiched the fabrics with the wadding between the backing fabric and the covers, and pinned them together before stitching around the whole thing 5mm from the edge.

You should now have an 11″ by 24″ book section with the covers on one side, page 1 and 6 on the other with a 3″ spine-section between them, and your backing and wadding fabrics in the middle.

We’re essentially going to do the same as above for the other 4 pages.  Take your shorter pieces of backing and wadding and attach the pages on either side by sewing around 5mm from the edge as above.  The first side that you do should have the 5th (second to last) page on the left and the 2nd page on the right.  Add an approx 2″ top-stitched spine section of black fabric in the middle as above.

The second side of this section should be the centre pages – pages 3 on the left and page 4 on the right.  Once you’ve sewn these pages down, you may still have a 1″ gap in between them, which we’ll cover with the rainbow elastic in a bit.  I had no gap, but you can still see the raw edges which need covering in the middle.

Before we do that, take your hide-and-seek toy that we prepared with the covers and is attached ot one end of a ribbon.  Sew the other, flat end of the ribbon to the middle of the spine section between pages 5 and 2 about 1-2″ from the top of the spine.  I sewed this using the machine in a crossed-box pattern for security.  Oops! Don’t seem to have a pic of this, sorry! – you can see where it’s attached in this pic (click pic for closeup):

Now you can pin the rainbow elastic (or 1″ ribbon or other fabric strip) between pages 3 and 4.  I attached it by machine sewing about 1-2mm from the edge down both sides.  don’t worry about the back of these rows of stitching – they’ll get hidden in the spine when we join the book together.

Now for the binding.  I’ve used my own technique for this, so if you have one you prefer, please use that.  It’s a bit fiddly, but I’ll use lots of pictures and hopefully will manage to explain it enough for someone to follow ok.  As with all my pics, you can click on them to see a much larger version if needed.  Here goes…..

I cut 2″ wide strips of the same fabric that I used for the spine sections (black with white flower design), and sewed them together end-to-end.

Starting with the bottom edge of my cover pages first (so that it’s less likely to show if it’s not as neat as the other edges I did once I got into the swing of it), I pinned the binding fabric face down along the edge of the book covers.  I machine sewed all the way along, about 1/2″ from the edge.

Now open the seam out…

…and flip the whole page over so that you’re on the side without the binding and the wrong side of the binding is sticking out at the bottom.  Now turn it around to the bottom is at the top. Fold the binding down so that the raw edge meets the raw edges of the pages.  Fold it down again so that the folded edge of the binding overlaps the book pages on this side by 1/2″, and all the raw edges are hidden away in the middle.

Now for the tedious (but worthwhile) part.  Using the back of the row of machine stitching I just did as a guide, I’m going to carefully hand-sew this folded edge down so that none of the stitching shows on either side.  I hope my pics and explanations are clear!

You’re basically doing a straight running stitch with the stiches small and close together, but with stitches alternating between the fold of the binding itself, and the book page below it.  Start by bringing the needle up through the edge of the book page, just next to the back of the row of machine stitches. Now stick the needle into the fold of the binding and out again about 2mm along (the needle doesn’t go through the binding – just poke in and out of the fold itself).

The needle then goes into the book page, just next to the machine stitches and level with where it’s just come out of the binding.  Come up again to make another 2mm stitch.

Repeat this to the end of the edge.  Here’s some more pics (I’ll show it on different pages to try to make it clear):

When you pull the thread tight, the fold of the binding will just cover the row of machine stitches, and you shouldn’t be able to see the hand sewing at all. Beautiful!

So do this to the top and bottom edges of your 2 sections of book.

When you do this to the second section, you’ll need to cut the knots off and tuck the ends of the bead cord into the binding, like this:

And also make sure you avoid sewing the toy ribbon to the binding (after I did this once I then pinned the toy and it’s ribbon to the middle of the page to keep it out of the way!):

And now for the sides.  In order to make the corners look neat and even, I want to end up with a sort of diagonal seam in the binding at each corner, like this:

To do this, I first pinned the binding to the side edge as before, but let it overlap top and bottom.  I then marked on the binding fabric where the machine stitching was going to be, where the seam for the top/bottom binding was, and a diagonal line from the outside edge of the whole thing to the inner corner of the binding. I’m using loads of pics of me doing this several times, so I hope this helps make it clear!

Machine-sew along this line, and then along 1/2″ from the edge and do the same at the other end.

From the other side it now looks like this:

Now open up the seam and fold the binding over as before, but only pin the middle section and not the corners for now.

At the corners, carefully fold the binding so that it follows the diagonal line at the corner and encloses all of the raw edges.  Again, this is quite fiddly and hard to show so appologies.  These 1st two pics shows how I folded the corner on the same side as the machine stiching.

Pin it in place.

Turn the whole thing over, so it should look something like this:

Fold the bit sticking out at the top down and pin (red pin here):

Now fold the whole side over twice, as you do normally with the binding (I had to rearrange the pins a bit to do this).

Now finally fold the very corner of this side so that the fold follows the diagonal part of the line of machine stitching and pin it:

Now it looks like this on the other side (the side which has the binding machine-sewn to it):

Right, now you’re going to hand-sew this using the same invisible stitching technique as above, but start on the side with the machine-sewn seam.  Do the invisible stitches along the first diagonal fold to the very corner:

Stitch around the top edge to the other side, and then back down diagonally from the corner on this side, and then along the straight part as described previously.

At the other end do the folding and diagonal rows of stitching as before.  Here’s a finished corner:

Repeat this on the other side of the book section, and for the other section of the book.  The binding was one of the most time-consuming parts of the frankenbook project for me, but it just looks so good when it’s done I felt that it was really worthwhile!

Now you can put your 2 book sections together.  Pin them at the spine and do invisible stitches by hand in a rectangle shape around the spine to hold the pages together.  The sewing technique is the same as for the binding – it’s quite fiddly, but just make sure that the top and bottom of your book pages all line up, and the middles of the spines are matched.

Last of all, I decided to add poppers between each pair of pages to hold the book together better.  I used the poppers from an old duvet cover, cutting them out with about 1-2cm of fabric all around:

I turned the edges of these over so that they would fit within the binding or the book pages, pinned them in and used invisible stitching to sew them to the middle of the left/right edge of each internal page.  Here’s the first one ready to sew:

To make sure the poppers match up, once you’ve done the first one, popper it’s pair to it (see 1st pic below), close the book (2nd pic) and pin the second popper to the opposite binding.  Then unpopper them and sew the second one in place (3rd pic).  Not my most neat sewing, but I had to finish this bit quickly!

Repeat for the other pages so that the book looks like this edge on:

Yay! I’m actually and completely finished!

Congratulations!  You’ve finished a beautiful, timeless project for your LO to treasure for years to come! 😀  I’m really chuffed with my 2 books, and can’t wait to give them to the babies for their birthdays…..

Back to Frankenbook Introduction Page


Book Gift Bag for the Frankenbook

When it came to giving the books as presents, I decided to make very simple drawstring bags for them to live in.  I added a hand-written panel instead of a birthday card on one side of the bag.  These would serve 2 purposes; to prettily wrap the book with a reminder of when/where it was from, and to keep it safe everyday when not being used.

The blog for the bag is here: How to make a Simple Drawstring Bag

Unfortunately, once it was finished, the bag really didn’t do the book justice so I didn’t end up using it.  I think it really needs a patchwork envelope-type cover for the book to match it.  Maybe that’ll get done later, but right now I think I deserve a break!


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2 Responses to Baby Frankenbook – Putting it all Together

  1. I know this was ages ago, but I am about to have a go at one of these (I am a total sewing amateur!) and I love the clarity of your explanations. Thank you – and your book is just stunning!

    • emeriminni says:

      Thank you! 😀 I’ve actually recently made a mini grown-up Frankenbook, but not yet got around to posting pics. I’d love to see what yours looks like when it’s finished! Emily x

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