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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8 thoughts on “Black and White Infant Mobile

  1. My daughter’s best friend is having twins (boy and girl). When I told her I was going to make this darling mobile for them – she decided to do their room in black and white as well..!! Thank you for such a fun and useful gift.

  2. Pingback: My botched-job DIY baby mobile | Stress Less Jess

  3. Thanks for the inspiration! Used your design, but made it out of sheets of craft foam as sticking that together was easier than sewing whilst breast-feeding 🙂 Now hanging above the changing table – my 4 week old is completely enthralled by it and will happily lie there calmly watching it for 15 mins.

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