For many years, my go-to baby gift was a set of totally over-priced (but thoroughly adorable) baby socks and a crinkly, rattle-type thing. Recently, though, I wanted to make more personal gifts. And I was on this scrap fabric kick so I wanted a project that I could make with scraps. I bought plain baby onesies double-sided fusing to make cute designs.
See, totally cute, right?! Except…the onesies seemed kind of a short-lived gift, especially when baby goo squirted out the back of a diaper–the sad fate of the chubby penguins above. I always had making a baby mobile at the back of my mind, but the project seemed too ambitious. However, a few weeks ago, my very special friends announced they were pregnant. (Aside: all my friends are special, but these friends got pregnant at the right time…when I had already experimented with the fusible webbing for a while–and after the baby goo incident.)
So, I committed to making a mobile for their baby. I had plenty of time…more than seven months, so I could take my time. I searched the Internet, craft, and hardware stores for the right piece. Specifically, I was looking for a four-way connector to cross two sticks or wires. I didn’t want to purchase the whole thing, I wanted to salvage materials from home or nature and use scraps to make the decorative pieces. Unfortunately, nothing existed for mere craft mortals. I have no idea if there is some secret resource out there for all things connectors, but I did not come across it. For a crazy second, I considered buying a kit and just using what pieces I needed. But that was wasteful and all I really needed was the thing on which to hang all my craftiness.
I abandoned the idea of ever finding a connector piece, or even for making a cross–at least for this mobile. My next choice was going with a circle. Heck. I could make a circle.
“From what?” you ask. Well, the most obvious option was using a hanger. You know, one of those annoying wire ones from the dry cleaners. My husband laughed at me. He figured that using the hanger would make the project look like a grade school project. I accepted the challenge.
With tin snips, I cut off both sides just where the hanger started to swoop up. I then entwined the two ends together and once the connection was secure, I pushed and pulled the hanger into a circle. Granted, it was not a pretty circle and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get the ends I had cut to not poke out dangerously. I eventually got the circle look more like a circle, but no matter how much I tried, I could not get the pokey ends to not stick out. Since I knew I would be covering the hanger, I was not too worried about it.
I then cut many, many strips of a plain cotton fabric that the week before lined the interior of my throw pillows. My plan was to wind the fabric around until I could no longer feel the pointy tips. I think it ended up being about three layers. I distressed the edges for that shabby baby effect. I used glue to make the fabric stick.
At this point, I decided to make the hanging implement. I used tulle because I had a lot of it. I took four long pieces of tulle and wound and knotted them at four opposite points on the circle.
NOTE: I later decided to hang a little owl from the center…and had to go back and fix things. So, if you want to hang a critter from the middle, it would be easier if your hung an extra length of tulle or your ribbon of choice from the center now.
Take all the lengths and gather them about one foot above the circle. I tied a knot. Don’t bother trying to tie a bow because it will be impossible to get all the lengths to me the same. Since I was using tulle, I knew I could get a big poofy puff at the end.
To do that, I folded back all the ends and tied them with a piece of twine. I then cut off the ends that were beneath the twine and covered the twine with a thick piece of tulle, which was glued down.
Now that my structure was in shape, it was time for the fun (and time consuming) part of making my little owls. Clearly, any little bug or animal design would work. I went with owls. And I wanted to make them two sided and poofy, with feet and ears sandwiched in the middle. This was just the way my little owls developed.
Above are pictures of the materials for constructing my owls. The fronts were made up of a big circle for the body, a smaller oval for the belly, two pointy ovals for wings, and a triangle piece for a nose. (See the photos below). The back had a big circle for the body, and a tail. In addition to these pieces, I used a polyester batting for stuffing, double-sides fusible webbing, tulle for hanging the owls and the mobile, and fabric paint for the eyes. You can use regular glue, too, but the fusible stuff dries a lot more quickly.
I fashioned some ears and feet.
My owls were constructed by taking one of the circles and sticking on the pieces on the front and then taking the other circle and sticking the little tail on the back. At this point, the front and back are not attached. If you have ears and feet, you can now attach them to one of the sides, on the inside.
Since I wanted to make these owls poofy, at some point I needed to stuff these little guys. At first I tried to stuff them like little dumplings, i.e. stick a clump of stuffing in the center of my owl and sandwich it in, but that made it tricky to add enough stuffing. After a different methods, I found that what worked best was to fuse the edges a portion at a time, until I had a gap (usually between the ears) to shove stuffing into. This made for lil’ fat owls. I could then finish with my tulle ribbon between the ears. I stuffed the ends of the tulle into the gap between the ears and fused them to seal the tulle inside. By leaving this step for last, I could wrap the ribbon around the circle hanger and not have to worry about tying it on.
Then repeat several more times until you have enough little fellows to be happy with your mobile. I did nine owls of varying sizes, fabric combos and styles.
The final touch was to add eyes. I decided to use fabric paint for the eyes mostly because the idea of cutting out all those little circles made my head spin. The fabric paint was a lot easier.
And now it’s ready to lull a baby to sleep.