Nora’s Homemade Cloth Activity Book

posted by Andrea | 10/2/2013

cloth activity book

Now that it’s officially October, I find myself frequently thinking about Christmas gift ideas for family, friends, and even making my own Wish List so I can start to give others ideas for me.

Two gifts I’ve ALWAYS been an advocate for are clutter-free gifts and educational gifts — especially when it comes to gifts for kids.

I love the idea of children being able to open a fun gift, but I also don’t complain if the gift is something they can either use up or continue to learn from long after the gift is given 🙂

Recently, Dave’s mom made Nora a fabulous educational gift “just because” she made one for Nora’s cousin when he was around the same age. It’s a super cool cloth activity book that requires various fine and gross motor skills to complete the activities on each page.

Nora LOVES her book!

We get questions about the book wherever we take it — and with Christmas still several weeks away, I thought this might be a fun educational gift for some of you seamstresses to make!

Here’s a closer look at the different pages inside Nora’s book.

Page 1: Velcro Balloons

Not only are balloons one of Nora’s favorite things in the whole world right now, she’s also obsessed with naming/matching colors. The Velcro pieces turn this page into one of our favorite “games” to play.

Page 2: Velcro Stop Light

Nora knows this is a stop light, but she calls the Velcro pieces “baby circles” because they are smaller than the balloon. She loves removing them and sticking them in the “baby pocket” 🙂

Page 3: The Mitten

Nora loves hiding her hand in the mitten and then excitedly removing it and shouting “found it” as if she actually lost her hand!

Page 4: Sleeping Teddy

I’m honestly kind of surprised we haven’t lost the “baby teddy” yet. It’s Nora’s favorite stuffed animal for the time being (not to out rank her baby and tiny baby though). The baby teddy comes along on many adventures with us, but always needs to be tucked into bed at the end of the day.

Page 5: Sunny Clock

Every time we are outside, Nora tries to find the sun and/or the moon. Unfortunately in West Michigan, the cloudy fall and winter days can sometimes make this activity a challenge. So her “sunny clock” has halted many tantrums after not being able to find the sun outside on cloudy days.

She can’t tell time yet, but she does enjoy moving the clock hands around the “sun”.

Page 6: Comb and Mirror

This is another of Nora’s favorite pages. She’s always loved looking in mirrors and more recently, she loves to comb her hair (and mommy’s hair). These pockets have a small snap on the inside of the top to prevent the comb and mirror from falling out — and to add another activity to the page.

Page 7: Zippered Ladybug

A couple months ago, my parents took Nora to our local county fair and she had a ladybug painted on her leg. Ever since that day, Nora has been in love with ladybugs — and she loves anything that has a “mommy” (big version) and “baby” (small version) together.

Need-less-to-say, this zippered mommy ladybug with 8 baby ladybugs inside is another fun page for Nora.

Page 8 & 9: Basketball Abacus

Nora can only count to 3 on a regular basis — sometimes 5 if she’s really paying attention — but she LOVES balls of any type. So these “baby balls” (are you sensing a mini obsession with Nora and baby objects yet!) are super fun for Nora to touch, push, pull, slide, etc. We’ll work more on counting in a few months 🙂

Page 10: Velcro Fruit Basket

Nora’s fruit basket has an apple, grapes, a banana, and an orange. She pretends to eat them as a snack and then pretends that the empty fruit basket is a boat.

Page 11: Doggie Train

We have a train track only a couple miles from our house, so we frequently hear trains — and Nora always has to stop and exclaim, “Train… choo, choo!”

The wheels on this train snap on and off and the window opens up to reveal the doggie conductor.

Page 12: Basket of Cars

Of course, you could put a variety of objects inside of a basket like this, but Nora really likes cars, trucks, busses, motorcycles, fire trucks, etc. so she excitedly pulls out each vehicle and exclaims what it is along with the noises it makes.

Page 13: Button Flowers

Not only does Nora love shouting out the color of each flower, she also loves pulling the flowers off and finding the “baby buttons”. She’s not quite skilled enough to put the flowers back on the buttons — but soon enough.

Page 14: Dog House

The door on the dog house opens up to reveal a “baby dog” that is secured with Velcro. Simple, but really fun for Nora’s favorite game of hiding things and then finding them again.

Page 15: Velcro Shapes

Nora knows all the basic shapes and some of the less common ones too — so along with her love for naming colors, this page has quickly become another favorite.

She almost always tries to be silly and slowly put each shape on the wrong base. Then she looks at me, pauses, shouts “nope” and proceeds to place it on the right base with a big smile on her face. Then she giggles like she’s so clever and funny!

Page 16: Pad of Paper and Pencil

Nora loves coloring, so this last page has been a saving grace when she tags along with me to doctor appointments. Even if she can’t (or won’t) do some of the other activities by herself, she will usually be able to sit and color for at least a few minutes before asking for help.

For the record, we usually keep a crayon in the pencil pocket 🙂

One last detail.

I thought it was really cute that on the back inside cover of the book, his mom added a little “With Sew Much Love” tag as another personal touch just for Nora.

Didn’t it turn out fabulously!

In case you’re interested in making a book for a child or grandchild, Dave’s mom said that she ordered the “I Can Do It Cloth Activity Book” pattern from Sew Baby, Inc. She did end up customizing much of the book and adding a few extra pages as well; but the pattern was a big help with knowing what sizes to cut fabrics and general inspiration.

And for the record, Dave’s mom is not a professional seamstress. She enjoys sewing and she did devote A LOT of time to this book, but don’t shy away from trying just because you aren’t an expert!

However, if you don’t sew at all, but do enjoy using the computer, you could always try making the ABC book I made for Nora earlier this year.

Both books would be a fabulous Christmas, birthday, or “just because” gift for any kiddos on your gift list!

Filed under: FamilyHolidaysCrafts

Leave a comment


  1. Joan Vinall


    This activity book is so lovely and useful. I made something like it 26 years ago for my Grandson and will make another one now he has a child of his own. I will make it washable and incorporate your perfect learning activities. Thank you so much. Joan


  2. Misty


    Hi my name is Misty and I am looking for a learning quilted activity book for my four-year-old daughter that has had cranial surgery if you could help me out on how to find one for her that would be awesome thank you and God bless


  3. Rosa


    I loved the silent book. You’re very creative. The colors, the fabrics, the buttons, and all materials you used.


  4. Margo


    Wow, I used to make these for friends years ago. I am finally going to be a grandma and was looking for the idea again. I love Nora’s book. Thanks for posting!!


  5. Kinga


    Hello. I love your cloth book. I would like to ask if you could make one for my daughter? Pls answer me. Thank you


  6. Diane


    Fantastic!! This project is my favourite I have seen on pinterest. A real beauty. I am wondering how you attached all the pages into the book?? This is something your daughter can hand down for generations. I am expecting my first grandchild soon…so excited as it as been a lot of years waiting and I would love to try this. Congrats on an amazing project and a wonderful keepsake.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Diane. This was made by Dave’s mom so I’m honestly not sure how she did it. I know that she did have to take it to someone who sews shoes to get part of it sewn because it was so thick.


  7. April


    This is the best activity book yet that I’ve seen…and I’ve been searching them! Good job well done!!!


  8. Kristi


    Do you sell these?


    Andrea Reply:

    No Sorry. I didn’t make the book — my mother-in-law did and it took her hours and hours and HOURS to make just one. She would probably have to sell it for $250 just to make it even remotely worth her time and energy 🙂


    Shelly Reply:

    They sell them on Etsy, but they are very $$. I seriously think they go for around $250 or so for the nice ones. They have smaller, simpler versions for cheaper. I would looooovveee one.


  9. kelly


    I had one of those as a kid!!!! With almost the same pages and I’m from New Zealand. My favourite pages were the button flowers & we had a shoe were we learnt how to tie shoe laces!


  10. Melanie


    What great pages in that book! My kids play with a quiet book like that-my grandma made it for me when I was a baby!


  11. KC


    This is an awesome idea! It almost makes me want to have another baby just so that I can make or buy this book! 🙂


  12. Tammy


    Super cute book Grandma!!! It turned out well!


  13. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving


    My Grandma sewed me a quiet book – with several matching pages – almost 30 years ago! My ladybug is quite worn, and a couple of flowers torn to prove how much I loved it. I’m looking forward to sharing it with our baby!


  14. Emily


    Wow, what a beautiful gift! Nana must be pretty special! 🙂 I loved reading your commentary about how Nora plays with the book and all the “baby” pieces. So sweet!!


  15. DeeDee Moore


    Perfect for Nora! Good job, Nana!


  16. Shelly


    This is quite possibly one of the coolest gifts I have ever seen for a young child! I’m a teacher and a mom and I can appreciate all the many different learning activities in thebook. It must have taken a lot of time and love to make. Nora is a very lucky girl! Thanks for sharing.


  17. Aa.


    I think it is the most amazing gift my children could receive (I don’t have kids yep, but hypothetically speaking)! I saved the idea and when i will have kids will be a nice project to do during the pregnancy period, if i will feel well.


  18. Catherine


    WOW! What a wonderful wonderful idea!! And such a precious gift from a grandmother! Nora is one lucky little girl!


  19. Amy O


    That is also one of the most amazing things I have ever seen! Your mother-in-law is a very talented lady.

    I was thinking that if you were really worried about the teddy bear getting lost, you could attach it to the book with a ribbon. (But that might make Nora unhappy if she wants to play with it separately.)


  20. Kelly in Oregon


    WOW! This is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen – way to go, Dave’s mom!


  21. Lessons From Yesterday


    That looks great! Your mil did a wonderful job! Those are sweet gifts to pass down too, although I know that’s a long time to keep somthing. My boys enjoyed playing with their aunts book that my mil kept, and one of my close friends burst into tears at her baby shower when she opened the book she played with as a child that her mother had saved.


  22. Julie


    What an awesome gift! You can tell this took quite a bit of time and love:).


  23. Aishwarya


    Oh how I wish I could do something like this for my 2-year-old! I drew inspiration (read: copied page to page) from Nora’s book of ABC and made a very similar one for my daughter who thinks that was the best gift ever. No kidding, she has learnt her alphabets purely from the book. Though my tryst with needle and thread has been just about three hours put together so far, I seriously think I should give it a try. Thanks, Andrea. Your blog is an inspiration as ever.


  24. Paulette


    What an amazing gift! Like you said, it just keeps on giving…to Nora and to Mommy


  25. Amber @ Steps to Save


    I love how detailed it is. Your mother-n-law did an amazing job!

    Our friends made my daughter a homemade cloth activity book and she loved it!

    I’m also for clutter-free and educational toys. We’re also avid readers and my children enjoy looking at books from a very early age.Thanks for sharing this sweet gift idea with us. Hope you have a great day~


  26. Jane


    That is a labor of love! I can appreciate the time that went into it. But it’s also a perfect gift! I purchased a similar book when my kids were young and they loved it!


  27. Beth


    No talent like that here but LOVE the idea!! Off to Etsy I go… Surely someone out there makes these!


  28. BarbaraL.


    That is the sweetest little thing! I bet grandma is going to have loads of fun making things for the new baby!


  29. Organize 365


    I had a book just like that when I was young. My mom made it and I totally forgot about it! What a great idea!