Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cloth Book - Graphic Novel Style

No one ever overbuys fabric, right?  I think I may have overbought cloth books for my two granddaughters. For a while there I was buying two of almost every cloth book panel I saw. So far in 2014 I have made twelve cloth books. I have these four more to go and four others not shown in the photo.

If I sew fast and diligently, I can whittle down my supply by gifting them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. These books are still age appropriate for the six-month old, especially since I have started spicing them up by inserting crinkly paper inside so they make noise. But, since the two-year old granddaughter had an eighteen month head start on her cousin, my supply for her is too high for her level of interest. She has the attention span for much longer and more involved books now. I thought I could stretch her interest by making a variation on a cloth book by sewing it into one flat panel, each page like a quilt block, so it is a book blanket of sorts. This might be a "novel" configuration for the two-year old. She can hold it across her lap or lay it out on the floor and follow along from one page to the next like a comic strip. It will be her first graphic novel! Her dad enjoys graphic novels and she adores her daddy! I set out to do make her a graphic novel based on a panel for the book The Mitten by Jan Brett.

I picked this cloth book to make into a graphic novel because it showcased the beautiful illustrations by Jan Brett. The fabric panel also has a lot of text, showing it is meant to be read. As I worked on it, I wanted to document a few mildly tricky points in case when I do this again.
  1. Page sequence
  2. Larger cover panels and page borders
  3. Not square
  4. Sashing widths for overall size and reading sequence

Page sequence: Cloth books have twelve pages so a three-block-wide by four-block-tall quilt with sashings separating the blocks is a natural arrangement. These twelve pages are printed as pairs on six double-page-width panels. Pages are grouped and sequenced on these double panels such that they are in the correct order when the panels are placed back to back and the book is assembled as intended.

For quilt block format the panels need to be split in half and the pages re-sequenced. I rough cut the double pages apart, leaving sufficient margin around each page to be able to square it up in a later step. At this step I was careful to leave a page number on. Then I cut each into two single pages along a centerline between the pair. This vertical cut decided that the blue borders on the panel had to go since they could not be on all four sides of the block. But abandoning the blue gave me greater freedom in my choices for sashing fabric.

Larger cover panels: Most cloth books have a larger cover, so two of the six double panels are larger. I needed to decide whether to have a consistent block size by trimming down the larger panels or make custom narrower sashings to accommodate them full size. I chose to trim down the larger pages even though it meant the decorative gray lashing frame on the cover page was closer to the edge. Although pages 1 and 10 in the previous photo are larger, the gray lashing frame is consistent in size with the other pages and the larger size is accommodated in the outer edges.

In the long run I thought it was the less noticeable of the two options and the simpler to implement. The insides of the front and back covers, pages 1 and 10, had border sizes consistent with inner pages. The back cover page conveniently had no borders. 

Not square: Most panels are not printed on the grain or at right angles so I needed to be creative here. I measured the pages and decided a consistent width and consistent height and fussy cut all pages the same dimensions squared up. In some cases this involved including more contrasting edge or a cutting line and hiding it in a seam allowance. The following photo shows some of the blue crept into the seam allowance so it was a good thing I did not trim if off first.

The squaring up step cut off the page numbers, so I made sure I knew the order in which pages were meant to be read. For some cloth books the page numbers are more inboard and would not get trimmed off.

Sashing widths: I wanted this quilt to remain relatively small so a toddler could manage it within her arm span but I also wanted the pages to be distinct from each other. I chose a vertical sashing width about one third the block width. I made my horizontal sashings taller because I wanted to space the pages to indicate one row at a time reading sequence, a left to right. Here is my Power Point worksheet to figure out my cutting sizes. My hand notations show how I added seam allowances and adjusted on the fly while cutting.

Fabric choices: For my sashing fabric I chose a print that reminded me of tangles of yarn. I thought this fit in with the fact that the Grandma knitted the mittens. I did make the outer borders a bit wider that the sashings. I had to resist the urge to add an additional, wide, outer border of another fabric, pieces F and G in the previous diagram,  reminding myself I wanted the finished quilt to be within a toddler's arm span. I had an outer border fabric that I thought would be perfect with chipmunks and cardinals and pretty much in keeping with the critters in the mitten story. I contented myself with using it on the back.

From this point on, the graphic novel sandwiching, quilting, and binding is pretty much like any other quilt. Now I need to decide the quilting pattern and binding color. Stay tuned to see the backing I picked. I plan to post about this finished graphic novel later this week.

For now, I am hooking up to today's Freshly Pieced post for WIP Wednesday.

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