Thursday, December 6, 2012

SYS: Make Your Own Coloring Book {Rachel with Maybe Matilda}

Thanks for joining us for Stuff Your Stockings, a handmade gift series at Eat. Sleep. MAKE.

Today, we're happy to introduce Rachel with Maybe Matilda! Rachel is a mother of one, and an amazing crocheter. We're constantly amazed by all the cute things she comes up with (and she has an Etsy shop where she sells many of those things!) Both Shannon and I are beginning crocheters (yay for scarves!), so we appreciate how Rachel shares simple tutorials like her crocheted camera strap cover, and even basic techniques for anyone who would like to begin crocheting. Rachel will turn you into a pro in no time!

Taody, Rachel is sharing a fantastic idea for personalized coloring books for kids. Take it away Rachel!

Hi there! My name's Rachel, and I blog about crocheting, sewing, DIY home projects, and my crazy 2-year old over at Maybe Matilda. This is me:

And this is the crazy 2-year old, Forrest:

(His favorite hobby is snapping pictures of himself on the webcam [in the nude, of course]--I have hundreds of pictures on my computer that look exactly like this one, plus a lovely 200-shot series of him rehydrating from the exhaustion of such rigorous artistic endeavor with juice and his sippy cup.)

I love creating handmade gifts for loved ones at Christmastime, but there's a slight problem when it comes to this little fellow: he has hated just about everything I've ever made him. I wish I were exaggerating, but it's the sad truth. Over and over throughout the past 2 years, I've spent hours and days and weeks making something special for him--whether a crocheted baby blanket or handmade clothing or crochet toys and sweaters--that he promptly tosses and shouts at when I finally present them to him. It's depressing, and I must be a slow learner, because I keep trying and getting rejected.

So for this Christmas (and this DIY gift series!), I thought maybe I'd fool him into thinking I didn't make his homemade gift. I'm hoping that if he thinks I didn't make it myself, maybe he'll like it better. So I took a different route and stepped away from my typical crocheted and sewn creations, and tried my hand at something new, something he wouldn't recognize as a DIY project at all:

This project was as easy and quick as a DIY project can possibly be, required almost no skill or knowledge whatsoever (other than the ability to upload pictures to a website, print them out, and drive yourself to an office supply store), and looks absolutely adorable. And I think he'll even like it. (Fingers crossed.) Ever since he was born, I've wanted to make a little book of his family members, near and far, so he could learn their names and faces (even for family members who live far away and don't see him often), so I went with a "Who Loves Forrest?" theme and included pictures of his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins for him to color in this book.

Here's how I made Forrest's coloring book:

1. Head over to Coloring Page Creator and set up an account (it's all completely free!). I believe you can also make a coloring book without actually setting up a membership and joining the site, but it probably won't save your work if you have to step away from the computer.

2. Start uploading the pictures you'd like to include in your book, and the site will automatically transform them into black and white coloring pages. I learned that some photos work better than others--it's best to stick with close-up shots that don't have a lot of background action happening. For instance, take a look at this picture of Forrest with his Uncle Jake: it's a tight, close shot of faces without much happening in the background, and it turned into a really crisp, clean coloring page:
And compare that to this one, which is kind of busy with all the trees in the background and grass in the foreground--it still made a decent coloring page, but it's a lot busier, distracting, and not as crisp-looking. I'm  glad it's part of the book since he is crazy about his "Elmo and Papa" (grandma + grandpa) and will be out of his mind with excitement to color them, but you can see that certain pictures transfer to black and white outlines a little more nicely than others.
 3. Click the "Create a Coloring Book" tab and add your pictures to your book! When it's all set up how you'd like it, you can save and download the book as a PDF.

4. Print your pages. Here's what I liked so much about the site Coloring Page Creator--there are quite a few websites out there that will turn your photos into coloring pages, but I loved that I could print them out right at home without their logo on the pages. Many sites automatically include a watermark or a logo or their own site name printed somewhere on the page. I loved that with this site, there was nothing added to the pictures at all. Just your photo, as a coloring page, period. (And they're not paying me to recommend them, by the way--they don't know who I am--I just was very happy with the site and with the end result!)

5. Bind your book. If you'd like, you can certainly staple the pages together or bind them however you'd like at home (I think it would be neat to slip them into those plastic sheet protectors so it becomes, more or less, a 'dry-erase' book--kids could color right on the plastic protector with markers, then wipe it off and start over later). I headed over to Office Depot and paid about $4.50 to have my pages spiral bound with a clear, hard plastic cover. Then I just packaged it up with new markers and it's ready to stick under the Christmas tree! 

(To make the "Who Loves Forrest?" text and image for the front, I just uploaded a photo of Forrest and my husband to PicMonkey, added the text, saved it, and then uploaded that saved image to Coloring Page Creator. Easy as pie, and it makes a nice cover page!)  

Thanks to Jen and Shannon for inviting me to join in the series! I hope you guys enjoy this quick and easy project (and I hope my picky DIY-hating son enjoys it, too). Come visit me at Maybe Matilda to see more of my projects! 


What a thoughtful present! What kid wouldn't love a whole book full of family pictures to color? Thank you for sharing Rachel! 

Visit Rachel at Maybe Matilda to check out some of her other great projects. Rachel is also participating in a "Dare to DIY" series with themed challenges through December 10th. Go check it out and link up your handmade projects!


  1. Thanks so much for inviting me over today! I'm so excited to give the little nugget his coloring book on Christmas :-)

    1. Hi Rachel I hoped he liked it. Did he like it? I am dying to know now. I have been knitting, embroidering and crocheting homemade christmas gifts for my family as well. I just started this year and I almost have every single gift done. I hope they like them as well.

  2. Hi I love this site. I am new of course but it is so fun and interesting to know that there are others out there that love to make stuff by hand just as much as I do.


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