Black and White Infant Mobile

As I prepare for my own newborn, I thought I’d bring back this guest post/tutorial that I did a loooooong time ago.  It’s the perfect project for a newborn’s nursery – a stimulating black and white infant mobile.  Just last week I got the sweetest email from a reader living in Dubai who has made a few of these for friends.  She says that both the mamas and the babies love them and she loves making them too!  It was seriously such a heartwarming email to read and it made me feel so happy to share these kinds of tutorials with you.  Thanks Julie!

I made this mobile forever ago and I’m excited that we’ll finally have a little one to enjoy it.  I mention this in the post, but please note that I used a slightly older than newborn model for my pictures.  But this mobile is recommended for newborns, not toddlers.  Enjoy!

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Projects for newborns have a special place in my heart because the arrival of my daughter (Yuki) is what really catapulted me into the world of sewing.  And now I can’t imagine my life without either!  Today I’m going to show you how to make a stimulating Black and White Mobile for your baby’s changing table.

Out of aaaaall of the things that I made for my daughter when she was an infant, the one that was the most loved and the most used was a mobile similar to this.  She. Loved. It.  She was so mesmerized by the high contrast designs – we actually called it “the babysitter” for awhile because she could just lay there and stare at it forever!

 Not a newborn anymore, but the only model I had on hand – and she was still pretty intrigued!

Studies say that newborns can best register black, white and red in high contrasting patterns.  These designs stimulate their eyes and promote brain development.  This is probably most beneficial during the first 3-4 months of life, though my daughter loved hers well past her first birthday (we had to keep adjusting the height so she couldn’t reach it)!  Because these designs stimulate (not soothe), this mobile would be best
placed over a changing table or play area as opposed to a crib.

So let’s get started!  Here’s what you’ll need:
- An embroidery hoop (10 inches)
- Paint and paint brush
- White and black felt (I like wool or wool blend)
- Embroidery floss

I bought this 10 inch hoop at Joann’s and at full price it was $1.50.  You can use polyester felt, but I prefer wool or wool blend felt because it’s thicker and will make the squares stiffer.

I bought 1/8 of a yard in white and black.  Luckily I had the rest of the supplies at home already, so between the felt and the hoop (and a couple of coupons), I only spent about $3.50.  Not bad . . .

So the first step is to separate the two hoops.  One has some hardware on it and you can toss that in your “stuff I swear I’ll find a purpose for someday” pile (please tell me you have one too).  The other hoop should have nothing on it.  Paint your hoop with acrylic paint or spray paint.  A couple of coats will ensure a nice opaque finish.  I went with black because I thought the dark circle against the white ceiling would add another visual element of interest.  But you can paint it whatever you color you want!

Set the hoop aside to dry and cut your felt into 4×4 inch squares.  You’ll need 6 white ones and 4 black ones.

Let’s also cut your embroidery floss.  The lengths I give here are based on what I needed (determined by the height of my ceiling and my changing table), so you may need to make adjustments.  I used one piece that was 90 inches and 4 pieces that were 50 inches.

Sketch out some designs for your mobile pieces.

These were my original sketches, though some of the designs came out different.  I’m going to walk you through the 5 designs I made, but you can be as creative as you want!

1. Cut out strips of white felt  and lay them down diagonally on a black square.

2. Cut a piece of white felt 4 inches long.  Draw 4 wavy lines, cut them out and lay them on a black square.

3. Draw nine circles on some black felt (trace a coin).  Originally I made them all the same size, but before I sewed them on I decided to make 4 of them smaller.  A nickel and a dime might be about right.

4. Draw concentric circles about 1/2 inch apart on black felt and create a target design on a white square.

5. This is probably the most complicated one.  First cut two black 2×2 inch squares.  Keeping in mind that 2 of the sides of the square will be part of the seam allowance (dashed line), draw a small square in the “middle.”  Carefully cut the square out, repeat with the other black square and arrange as shown.  Don’t forget that you’ll lose a 1/4 inch on all four sides!

Now top stitch all the felt designs on and trim anything extra felt hanging off the edge of the square.  Take your time with the circles and curved shapes.

Here’s what they should like at this point:

(Notice the change I made in the 9 circles design)

Put those aside while we prep the other 5 squares, which will be the back pieces.  Felt doesn’t generally have a right and wrong side, but I’ve labeled them just in case you’re using something that does.

Use a ruler to find the center of the square and mark it on the wrong side.  Measure about a 1/2 cm to either side of the center to make a 1 cm line.

You’ll need to decide which of the designs you want in the center of the mobile.  That design will get the longest (90 inch) piece of thread.  For the other 4 designs you’ll use the shorter pieces of embroidery floss.
Thread your needle and enter from the right side on one end of the centimeter long mark and then push the needle back through at the other end of the centimeter long mark (geez, did that make sense?).
Now pull the threads till they are even lengths and the felt square hangs parallel to the ground.  Flip the square over and tie a simple knot close to the square.  You don’t want to tie it so tight that the square puckers.  Make sure that it lays flat and it’s ok if there is a little sliding room.
Wind up the thread and lay it in the center of the square so it’ll be out of the way when you sew the two sides of the square together.  Repeat with the other 4 squares (remember to use the longest piece of thread for your center square).
To sew the square front and back pieces together, lay your patterned squares on top of the back square pieces, right sides together.  Pin and sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure to leave an opening on one side.
Trim the corners and flip them right side out.  Use a chopstick to poke out the corners and press.  Top stitch all the way around with a 1/4 inch seam allowance making sure to sew the opening shut.  As you top stitch, make sure to move the embroidery floss aside so you don’t sew over it.
Now you should have 5 felt coaster-like squares with thread coming out the back side.
Decide how long you want each square to hang from the hoop and tie a simple knot at that mark.
Separate the two pieces of thread and place the hoop in between them.
With the two pieces of thread back together, tie a knot above the hoop as close to the hoop as possible.
Now repeat this with the other 3 squares that will hang from the hoop.  Place them exactly 90 degrees apart from each other.  Pull all the thread to the center above the hoop in one hand.
For the center square, add the loooong threads to the bunch in your hand and adjust the length of the thread depending on where you want the center square to hang.  Make sure the hoop is parallel to the ground.  If it is tilted, you need to adjust the lengths of the thread.  Tie a knot with all of the strands of thread about 6-7 inches about the hoop (the thread should measure at least 8 inches from the hoop to the knot – this will help for the next step).
Trim the
short threads to a 1/2 inch above the knot.  Be sure not to cut the two
long threads!!!  You’ll need those to hang the mobile.
Cut out 2 circles about 1.75 inches in diameter.
Place them wrong sides together and top stitch around half of the circle.
Slip the circle over the knot and top stitch the rest of the circle making sure to sew over the thread so the circle doesn’t slide up and down.  If you can’t machine sew this because the hoop gets in the way, you can hand stitch it.
And you’re basically done!!  I just tied a loop at the end and used a ceiling hook to hang it.
Done!  Now give it a little spin, sing a song and watch how your baby becomes mesmerized by these handcrafted designs.  Can you see the synapses firing??  Well, maybe not, but I’m pretty sure you’ll see the intrigue in their eyes.
Baby’s eye view
Again, I used my toddler in these pictures because I didn’t have a newborn on hand.  I don’t actually recommend this (or any) mobile over a changing table for toddlers, mostly because it’ll end up looking something like this:
Anyways, thanks for letting me share this tutorial with you.  I hope you give this project a try and that your little one loves this mobile as much as mine did!
Hope you all have a great week!
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Yuki’s Nursery: Last Day and a (sorta) tutorial

(click the button to see the whole series!)

So we made it to the last day!  I just wanted to share a couple more things and a super easy and cheap home decor idea.

First is this quilt.  My first real hand-quilted quilt ever.  Probably the last :)

Don’t you love how the 2010 creeps upwards?  Hah!

It was a fun project and I’m pretty proud of it, but I really don’t know if hand quilting is for me.  I love quilts though!  I think, from now on, it’s either machine quilted or knots. :)

This next project was a mobile I made after Yuki was born.  I realized that it would be handy to have one hanging right above her changing table to keep her distracted during diaper and clothing changes.  We had a hand-me-down mobile but it wasn’t right for our room.  So I decided to make some black and white cards and attach them to the mobile frame with fishing wire.

It was great because it still had the music and rotating mechanism, but she LOVED the black and white designs.  This was, by far, the most practical and well used item that I made.  And it was so cheap and dinky!  It was literally white pieces of cardstock that I drew on with a black marker.

She loved it for a loooong time, but eventually was able to sit up and then grab them and since they were just paper, they didn’t last long after that.  I plan on making them again when we have another baby, but I’ll probably make them with felt (or at least laminate the cards) so they are more sturdy.

This next piece is a combo of a fun find and a DIY project.  While in Portland we found this awesome gift shop and I picked up these super cute postcards.  I can’t remember how much they were, but I’m assuming pretty cheap.  They fit perfectly with the feel and theme of the room.  It’s hard to see, but they are copies of oldish dictionary pages with hand drawn and colored ADORABLE illustrations.  Birds, rabbits, a dear, a bear and a squirrel?  Yes please!

So here’s where the sorta tutorial comes in.  I wanted to show you how I painted these cheap-o frames to look vintage-y and distressed, but I didn’t have the time or any extra frames to demonstrate.  So I thought I’d just describe it, since it’s pretty simple.

Just go and pick up a 3-pack of these RAM frames from Ikea for $1.99.  They are unfinished pine and have a plastic sheet instead of glass making it totally safe for a kid’s room.

All you need is acrylic paint in the color you want the frame, and white.  Paint a few coats of your main color to make sure it’s nice and well coated.  In my case, I did about 2-3 coats of brown paint.

Once the frame is completely dry, take a dry brush and dip it very lightly in the white paint.  You can brush some of the excess paint off if you need to, because you really only need a tiny bit.  You want to lightly brush the white paint along the edges of the frame a few times all the way around.  Do it on both the outside edge and inside edge of the frame.  You can very lightly run it over the rest of the frame too.

The nice thing about this, is if you accidentally get too much white on the frame, you can always take another dry brush with a tiny bit of your base color and brush it over.  Keep going until it’s got the amount of distressing you like.

And that’s it!

Thanks so much for coming on this little tour of Yuki’s room.  For me, it was a trip down memory lane!  Though some of this stuff is still up in the room, a lot has changed, and most of it has just become part of the mess.  I don’t really appreciate it anymore.  But looking back, I remember all the love and thought that went into it AND it makes me a little excited to plan another nursery!!  Not that we’re ready for that yet . . .

And in case you want to go back and see the other days, here are the links:
Day 1: Fabric Wall Decals
Day 2: Bird Mobiles
Day 3: Punched Fabric Flowers
Day 4: Fun Finds

Anyways, have yourself a great weekend!!  I’ll see you next week for some fun green activities in honor of St. Patty’s Day :)

Yuki’s Nursery: Fun Finds!

Day 4 of Yuki’s Nursery Tour (click the button above to see the rest)!  You’re probably sick of this little room.  How much could there possibly be to see!?  Well, a bit more, so thanks for indulging me :)

Although I spent a lot of time on DIY projects, I can’t take credit for everything.  Some awesome things I just found!  Today I’ll show you some of the fun finds in Yuki’s room.

ABC cards.  I found these Alphabet Cards at Michael’s during one trip and THEY WERE PERFECT!  They have the cutest little illustrations on them.  They are beautifully cut and distressed.  I didn’t have to do anything!  I just pinned up two rows of ribbon and found some mini clothes pins to hang them up!

Next is this little gnome friend.  I don’t remember exactly where I picked this up, but I think it was from an antique shop we stopped at on our road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast.  And those pinwheels came from a little boutique in Calistoga.  Once I decided on a theme, I just tried to keep my eyes open for little things all over that might add some character.

Since I love birds and owls, there are a lot of birdy things in the room.  I got 3 of these unfinished bird houses at Joann’s and painted them in yellows, oranges, grays, blues and browns (there’s one hanging as a mobile and the 3rd one is on Yuki’s bookshelf).  The nest was also from Joann’s and those two little owls were from a temple gift shop in Japan!

The best of all our finds though, is this dresser.

We walked into a Salvation Army one day and found this awesome dresser right at the front of the store on sale for $50!  It’s a bit beat up and missing a knob and a handle, but it just adds character right?  I was planning on replacing them, but never got around to it and it really hasn’t mattered – we can still get in all the drawers just fine.  I love the color and the size was perfect for all her clothes.  I use it as a backdrop for clothing photos all the time (you may have seen it here or here).  I have a feeling this dresser will be with us for a long time.

Well that’s it for today!  I miss going out and looking for fun finds to add to the room.  All this nursery talk is getting me thinking about ideas for a new room!  And I’d love to see all of your nurseries!  Anyone have links to posts of their nursery?

Yuki’s Nursery: Day 3 and a Tutorial: Punched Fabric Flowers

(click the button above to see the rest of the series)

It’s Day 3 of Yuki’s Nursery Tour!  Sorry this post is later than I hoped because not only is Yuki sick, but she got me sick too!!  Last night I went to sleep BEFORE Yuki and only woke up today because she was up and Hideko had left for work.  I slept for over 12 hours but I feel like I could have slept forever.

Anyways, continuing on with Yuki’s Nursery Tour, I’ve got more pictures, projects and a tutorial.  These are the only photos I could find of the whole room.

We used a lot of colors for her room, but the main colors were yellow, orange, gray and a splash of turquoise.  One of the first things I made was a bunting using a variety of yellow, orange and gray fabrics and sewed them to a gray ribbon.  I really love it and actually took them down to use at her birthday party (6 months ago) but never bothered to put them back up :(

Another big project for the room was reupholstering this rocker.  It was a hand-me-down from Hideko’s sister and we love it so much (and still use it!), but the original cushion covers were not really my style (yes, that’s putting it lightly ;)).  I was really proud of how it came out.  And then I saw a photo of a friend’s reupholstered rocker and they had repainted the frame too!  Why didn’t I think of that!?  Oh well, maybe that’ll be one of my nesting projects before baby #2 comes along.

For today’s project, I’m going to show you how I made these fabric punched flower branches.

The flowers are made out of fabric that’s been made stiff with fabric stiffener and then punched out with flower punches.  Sounds easy right??  Well IT IS!

Here’s what you need:
Scraps of fabric
Fabric stiffener
Paint brush
Craft punches (in flower shapes)
Awl, ice pick or other pointy object
Artificial flower stamens (I’m not sure what they’re really called, but you can see a pictures below)
Hot glue gun
Fallen branches
Vase
Yellow (or other color) permanent marker (optional)

Take your fabric and apply the stiffener following the directions on the bottle.  I like to use wax paper on a cookie sheet to lay the fabric out on.  I usually apply a few coats to make it nice and thick but not unbendable.  Let it dry completely.  I didn’t have time to label these photos, but you can see the regular fabric on the left, the fabric stiffener and brush in the middle, and two sheets of already stiffened and dried fabric.

Here are the two sheets of stiffened fabric up close.  They are pretty hard, like cardstock, and you can bend them a bit to give them shape, but they don’t crease like paper.

Now take your stiff fabric and punch out a bunch of flowers!  I used cherry blossoms here, but you can use any shape flower.  In fact, if you don’t have any flower craft punches, you can just freehand cut some out.

The white ones on the right are Martha Stewart and the cherry blossom punches on the left are Carl brand.

Fun!!!  Because the fabric is thick and stiff, these suckers were pretty tough to punch out.  I recommend putting the punch on a flat hard surface, like your desk, placing your fabric in the punch and then using your palm and your body weight to push down into the desk.  Yeah, it can hurt after awhile.

Use your awl to create a small hole in the center.  You’ll need to make it a bit wider than in this picture to fit the stamens in.  Press gently or else you’ll tear the fabric.

These are the stamen.  I bought them at Michael’s I think, but you can find them at most craft or hobby stores.  This is optional, but I took a yellow permanent marker and colored in the bulb of the stamens to give them some color.  You can probably also buy colorful ones, but these are the only ones I could find.

Cut them in half (the stamens come with two on each end of a string) and pull them through the center of the flower.  Decide how many you want.  I used between 2-4 depending on the size of the flower.

If you want you can bend the flower petals up a bit to give them more depth.  Now trim the ends of the stamens in the back, apply a generous amount of hot glue and stick it on to your branches.  The glue is going to hold the stamens in place and adhere the flower to the branch.  I found that placing the flowers in the nook where one branch splits into two was a good place for it.  Here is what it looks like from the back.

Not super pretty, but not too noticeable either.  But knowing that there was going to be a back, I put all my flowers facing the same way and put the back side up against the wall.  If I wanted the branches to be pretty from all angles, I’d probably place two flowers back to back to cover up all the glue.

I did simple one-color, one-layered flowers, but if I were to do it again, I’d probably play around with layering flowers that are different sizes and/or different shades.

And looking at these, I realize that they don’t just have to be home decor, but these would make awfully cute hair accessories too!  In fact, I’m going to glue these extra ones to pins right now!

Thanks for stopping by!  I’ve got a bit more to show you from Yuki’s nursery later this week, including other DIY projects, some fun finds and another tutorial.  Hope you’re all staying warm and healthy!

Yuki’s Woodland Nursery: Bird Mobiles

Check out the whole series:
So this week we’re going through Yuki’s nursery as it was over 18 months ago before she was born (a bit has changed since then)!  I decided to revisit some of my nursery decorating projects after sharing the fabric wall decal tutorial and realizing that none of these were ever shared because they were made before this blog existed!

A little background about the nursery:
Since crafting is a hobby of mine I definitely knew I wanted to take a very DIY/hands-on approach to designing and decorating our baby’s room, while staying on a budget. I think our style and personality are reflected here.  I was inspired by nature, beautiful fabric and a small budget and the style I was going for was simple, playful, creative and bright.  We picked a woodland creatures theme because we were really into woodland animals at the time (we still are).  We love the outdoors and wanted the room to have a nature-y feel and thought the animals would be cheery friends for out little daughter on the way.  I also wanted to use a lot of colorful fabric because I thought it would add a warm and soft feel to the room.  I used the wall decals to cover the room with tons of animal friends like a deer, a squirrel, a rabbit, and about a million birds.  Oh yes, I love birds.

Which brings us to the project that I am sharing today.  My second favorite part of this nursery (after the decals) is the bird mobiles!  I saw this amazing bird mobile on the Spool blog and knew I had to make one!  Spool is a fabric shop in Philadelphia and also has an online store.  I’ve bought some of their fat quarter bundles in the past, they put together some really cute collections. The best part is, you can download the free bird softie pattern here!!  For free!

So I made a batch of birds, some small and some regular.  Then on our babymoon road trip up the west coast to Washington I picked up these sticks so the mobiles would a sentimental meaning.  I used fishing wire and eye hooks to make them into a mobile and can I just say, it took me a loooong time to figure out how to get the balance just right.

Aren’t they just the perfect touch to this fabric filled woodland world??

The birds were really easy to make, so if you want to add a few fun friends to your home, I suggest checking out the pattern (link above) and whipping up a few yourself!

And come back later this week as I continue to share the rest of the room, with more project ideas for your home!

Tutorial: Fabric Wall Decals

See the whole series here:
This week I thought I’d share Yuki’s nursery with you. I noticed someone had asked about the rest of the nursery a couple weeks ago when I shared this tutorial on delia creates. Most of you have probably seen this post, but I wanted to share it here as well.

So today I’m reposting this tutorial, but later this week I’ll take you on a little tour of the rest of the nursery and share some of the other projects I did. The best thing about these projects is that even though I used them in the nursery, they can really be used in any room of the house!

Anyways, here we go…

These fabric wall decals were my favorite part of decorating the nursery. I can’t say that this is an original idea of mine. I first saw it on How About Orange, and she had seen it on another blog and so forth. But today I’m going to show you how perfect these decals are for a sweet little nursery.

When we found out we were having a baby we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment so our daughter could have her own room. But our building has strict rules about painting the walls so I knew removable decals were the way to go. There are some amazingly cute ones out there, but they can be pricey and I thought it’d be fun to make my own. Not only do you have the freedom to create any image you want, but it’s easy and cheap! You probably already have all the materials you need and it’s super safe for your little one.

And it’s completely removable. Perfect for renters OR people who want to have the option of changing up their decor every once and awhile. I’m going to show you two ways to do it. I’ll call one, “the easy way” and the other, “the easier way.” :)

Here’s what we’ll be making today . . .

and here’s what you’ll need:
Paper, pencil and scissors for making your pattern (or you can download this hedgehog, mushroom and grass one I made HERE)
Fabric (lightweight cotton works best)
Fabric scissors
A tub, tray or baking sheet
Towels (to protect your floor)
Disappearing ink pen (optional)
Sponge brush (optional)

And lastly,
for the easy way: cornstarch
for the easier way: heavy starch spray (used for ironing)

The first step (and hardest, in my opinion), is deciding what you want to make and where you want to put it. Once you’ve decided, measure out the wall space. Mark the placement on the wall with pencil if necessary. On a piece of paper, measure out the appropriate size and draw out your pattern.

If you need help with the design, you can do an image search and it helps to use the word “silhouette” in your search, for example, “squirrel silhouette.”

Once you’ve drawn out your pattern, cut it out and trace it onto your fabric. Remember, if you are drawing it onto the wrong side of your fabric, you need to turn your pattern around too!

Cut out your decal pieces and you’re ready to make it stick!

First wipe your wall clean of any dirt or oil and dry it. Place towels on the floor under where you’ll be working to catch any drips.

I’ll start with “the easier way” because, well, it’s easier! This method requires the heavy starch spray.

Place your fabric onto your tray, baking sheet or small tub. Just use whatever you have around your house, but for bigger pieces of fabric, you’ll want a bigger surface. Lay it out flat and spray it with the starch spray. You want it to be well saturated. Using your brush (or your fingers), spread the liquid and remove any excess starch (you want it to be wet, but not necessarily dripping wet).

For small pieces of fabric, you’ll be able to just place the entire decal on the wall and then move it slightly if you need to adjust. Smooth it out using your brush or fingers. Using some of the excess spray on your tray, brush over the entire decal.

For larger pieces, start with one corner or edge and slowly work to the other side smoothing the fabric and pressing out any air bubbles with your brush or fingers. For REALLY large pieces (like the tree), see the helpful hints below.

Your fabric may start to fray a bit around the edges. Just use your brush or fingers to gently push the threads back along the edges of your fabric.

Repeat with all your decals. Use a damp towel or sponge to wipe any excess cornstarch away from around the decal (it may leave a white residue if it dries on the wall). Let it dry for a few hours or overnight, depending on the size of the decal and voila! You’re done!

Now, for “the easy way,” the only difference is that you’ll be making your own corn starch solution out of water and corn starch instead of using the spray. There are a few extra steps involved, but there are some great benefits. 1) You probably have cornstarch at your house and it’s cheap! 2) This method is totally natural! If you are concerned at all with unnatural products around your baby, this is perfect for you. You know, if you’re afraid that your child will, say . . . lick the wall (what!? whose child would do that!?). I don’t know if the starch spray is actually bad for you, but there are ingredients listed that I don’t recognize. There’s no question with corn starch and water. 3) And avoiding aerosol cans is better for the environment!

To make the solution:
Mix 3 teaspoons of corn starch with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water, stir and let cool. The solution will be cloudy and very thin.

The rest of the process is the same. Brush the solution onto the fabric and place it on the wall making sure to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Wipe away any excess drippings and you’re done!

Step back and enjoy your unique wall decals!

TIPS AND TRICKS:

Fabric - Lightweight cotton fabric will be the easiest to adhere and will stick to the wall the best. Medium weight fabrics can work too, but it might be a bit trickier.

Placement - These are removable, even for little fingers. My daughter enjoyed peeling any leaves she could reach from the crib off the wall, but she hasn’t messed with any of the other ones that she can reach. Just something to consider when deciding where to place your decals.

Extra large decals - For large images, cut your fabric into several smaller pieces. It will make it MUCH easier to put up. Just try to line up each piece right up against each other so it looks continuous and no one will be able to tell! The large tree was cut into 5 pieces and the deer was 3.

Removal - You can easily peel the decal off with your fingers when they are dry and then use a wet towel to wipe away any starch residue. This may cause the fabric to fray. For even cleaner removal, dampen the decal with water and it’ll slide right off. These decals CAN be used again if you remove them gently. Rinse the fabric, pat dry and then adhere them the same way you did before!

And really, the possibilities are ENDLESS! I’m already brainstorming new ideas for when I get tired of these. I hope you have fun making yours!