1. Design - I looked around the net a lot to get ideas, which also inspired more of my own ideas. Then I sat and sketched out my favorites. I thought about using different fasteners, counting, spelling, certain designs I knew I wanted to include like a robot and mermaid, etc. Very rough sketches, just to get the ideas down. I came up with 20 or so. Then I chose my favorites and decided I'd make 10 pages.
2. Refine - When I had a design I knew for sure I wanted, I would start a new page in my sketchbook and draw it out in the correct size. My pages are 9"x9" finished. I drew a 9" square and penciled my design, making changes until it was just right including all the details. I kept everything at least 1/2" away from the edges. I also considered how much detail I could add without killing myself... keeping shapes simple and as large as possible. I added little notes about colors or construction when needed, like "folded yarn for grass" or "hand stitch peas". (This is a good time to think about how your page will best be constructed - whether one thing has to be added before another, or a special technique is needed - and note it. Sometimes you will just have to wing it when you get there. That's the fun part!)
3. Print - Next I print out a copy of the design to use as a pattern. For this reason, it's good to get a darker line on your final sketch above. If you decide your drawing needs to be bigger or changed somehow, scan it into your compy and do what you must before printing. I suggest printing 2 copies, in case you have overlapping pieces to cut or make a mistake.
4. Cut and Cut - The pieces can now be cut out of paper and traced onto the fabric. I used a ballpoint pen. Cut 1 fabric + 1 fusible web for attaching directly to background, or 2 fabric + 2 fusible web for removable parts (front/back). Extra layers or details to be added will also need 1 fabric + 1 fusible web (like the frosting for the cupcakes).
5. Prepare Background - Cut out your background fabric to the finished page size plus the seam allowances. My pages were 9" square with 1/2" seams (x 2 sides, so 1" total) = 10" square. Press.
6. Prepare Loose Parts - For some of my designs, there were pieces that were only partially attached to the background, like the Cupcake pockets. For those, I cut the pieces and backed them with fusible interfacing, then zigzagged the loose edges before stitching to the background. For the fancy sheer bug wings, I found out that the best thing to do was zigzag the wing outline on the fabric BEFORE cutting. Seems like a duh now, but it took a lot of swearing before I figured that out. That's on my old school machine, if you have a serger or something fancy, I'm sure you'll have an easier time of things.
7. Fuse - Stick the fusible web to the back of the fabric to be appliqued and position it on the background fabric. Press applique to background per the instructions of the bonding product you are using. Fuse details and extra layers (like stove burners and cupcake frosting).
8. Batting - All of the removable parts include batting for added stiffness. You could also add interfacing to make it superstiff, but I found the batting to work fine. The way I added batting to loose items like the cupcakes, was to use the fusible web on one fabric piece, fuse it to a piece of batting, then trim the batting around the fabric shape (I found this to be much easier than trying to cut the batting into a firm shape before fusing). Then, fuse the other fabric piece to the batting side, sandwiching the batting between. Now, it is ready for the sewing machine.
9. Stitch - Once all your pieces are fused into place, it's time to zigzag your little heart out. Experiment first to find your ideal machine settings. All exposed edges must be zigzagged. Remember to stitch the edges of pockets before attaching them to the background. For the finer fabrics or removable parts, I stitched around them twice. For some details, I added simple straight stitching (like the frosting lines). I went back later and added hand embroidery, buttons, yarn and fabric pen details.
*Thanks again to How to Make a Quiet Book for the cupcake page idea, super cute!*
That is the basic process for making each page. I just repeated as I went along, sewing and sketching for 4 weeks. I made each page individually so that if I ran out of time, I would have completed pages (just fewer). It also kept me from getting bored with any one part of the process.
Cover - I'm sorry I don't have many pics, but the cover and final construction took some thought, that's for sure. I cut the cover 1" bigger than the pages (1/2" on each side) and made it one big long rectangle. Before stitching the inside and outside cover pieces together, I added ribbon handles and a tab closure to the outside piece. To the inside piece, I added an inscription plate and a pocket for paper & crayons (when she's older) or little parts that fall off. After I got all that stuff figured out and put together, I added batting and stitched, turned, top stitched all around.
Join Pages - I had 10 page designs, sewn back to back into 5 finished pages. Again, I added batting and stitched, turned, top stitched all around. Even though this part is pretty simple, it was a challenge to keep the pages square with all the stuff on them. If I were to do it again, I might fuse the pages to the batting... I chose not to do that because I thought it would make future repairs easier to do. [update: 5+ yrs later, no repairs have been needed. Success!]
Finishing - To attach my pages to the cover, I first took two finished pages, lined them up edge to edge, and ran a wide zigzag stitch between them. Then I was able to do a straight stitch down the center of the zigzag, attaching it to the cover. I did that with 2 pairs of pages. The last page I zigzagged directly onto the cover.
Tada!! If you have lots of time and patience, I highly recommend making one of these. I had a blast, and I still can't believe I finished the whole thing! I never finish giant projects like this... but for my little Daphne, anything.