Thursday, 3 October 2013

The multi-coloured mobile tutorial...

So I make a lot of stuff. I've always loved craft and stationary supplies. Now, given a butt-ton of free time and a baby on the way, it makes sense that I've gotten more into it these days. 

My BIG project has been making my own activity gym for the baby, since I couldn't find one I wanted to pay $80 for. Most baby gear is just hideous. Not that there is anything wrong with 'Under the Sea' or 'Jungle' themed stuff, but I'm the one that has to look at it, all the baby cares about is bright colours, so I figured I'd just make my own. Easy. It has turned out to be not quite as easy I thought (No Shit, says everyone else in the world) but it's also not quite as hard as people told me it might be, so all things considered I'm glad I'm tackling it. I'm hoping to get it finished at the weekend, since husband will be working like crazy (grant application is due next week, providing the US government re-opens) and when I finish I will post lots of pics with a half-assed tutorial since I am completely making it up as I go along.

In the mean time, I spent Monday making a mobile to hang over the cot/crib. This all stemmed from a conversation with Just Me over a lunch and cake, where she described one she'd ordered on Etsy, and I figured I could make it myself*.

So after all that rambling, I present the MULTI-COLOURED MOBILE TUTORIAL (imagine trumpets and confetti or something...)

I started by looking at other people's tutorials, just to get a rough idea of the supplies they used/any hints and tricks I needed to know. This one and this one were the most useful, I'd say. So I dragged my poor husband to Michaels (Hobbycraft equivalent for my UK friends) on Sunday evening about 10 minutes before church started, knowing it would make me be decisive.

A Quick Summary-
Time taken- about 10 hours all together (could be far shorter with stamp)
Cups of tea consumed- 7-ish (mostly decaf)
Total cost- $24 (including sales tax)
Skill level- Infant school- cutting circles, sticking tape. Bit finicky at the end with knot tying
Baby Shower gift potential- seriously high. Looks super impressive, can make it very personal, doesn't require (any) natural skill/talent.

Things you need- 
paper/cardstock in a few different colours (I ended up buying a small pad of patterned paper for $20)
double sided tape (I bought photo-safe stuff from the Scrapbooking aisle, but only cause it's right next to the front door of the shop. I think any decent quality one would work fine, cost about $2)
embroidery hoops (I bought a pack of 3 for $10- 8", 6" and 4")
thread or fishing wire (I decided against the clear fishing wire in the end because I couldn't find it in the shop remembered how bloody awkward it is to tie a tight knot in. I just used bog standard white thread)
sharp scissors (the tutorials I looked at all used those stamps that cut you a ready-made shape. These people are much more sensible than me, but I was being cheap. If you use scissors, make sure they are SUPER sharp. I ended up using my easy-to-resharpen sewing scissors since I blunted every other pair in the house)

First things first- I painted the three inner parts of the embroidery hoops with some long-hardened water-colours I found in a box whilst unpacking.** I was aiming for a red/purple type colour, but they dried sort of pink, so that's what I had to use. I threw the outer parts (with the metal tightener on them) in the bin, because honestly, what will I ever use them for.

Next, I started the long, drawn out process of drawing circles and cutting them out. I drew round the roll of double sided tape since it was roughly the right size (about 2-3 inches) and would stick to the card a bit because it was slightly sticky. This made it way easier to draw round. I just kept going and going until I had cut out 144 circles. (There is no scientific reason for this number at all, except that I chose to use all 6 patterns featured in the pad in 4 of the colours available. With 2 sheets of each pattern, and being able to fit 6 circles on each page, this equalled 144 circles. I think. 

This is what I ended up with. It took me about 4 hours. If you are even slightly less cheap than I am, buy the damn stamper.

Next up, I started to create the strips of circles. I found that being fairly 'production line' about it helped give me a greater (faster) sense of achievement. I cut all my thread and all the one-inch strips of double sided tape first, so that once I started assembling the strips I could just keep going. I had decided that on the biggest (outer) circle I would have 8 strips of 6 circles. The middle would have 6 strips of 8 circles and the smallest inner circle would have 4 strips of 10 circles. 

Once I actually started making the middle ones, I realised this wouldn't really work and the length-difference between them all would be far too big. With that in mind, I revised the middle strips down to 7 circles and the inner ones down to 8. I'm SO thankful I realised this before I started them. Basically I put the circles in a straight line, trying to make a mix of colours and patterns on each strip. Once they were lined up, I placed the thread in the middle of the circle, then attached one side of the double sided tape to each of the circles, basically using it like normal sellotape. I then pulled off the backing and stuck the other side of the circle on the top***.

You can just about see the thread...
This stage probably took me about 2 hours or so, but mostly because the backing to the double sided tape was so bloody static-y that they stuck to my fingers every single damn time. I was pretty rage filled by the time it was done, but I had lots of strips of lovely patterned circles and it was starting to look like I imagined it would.

Strips all attached together

Next came the task of tying the threads on to the embroidery hoop. The easiest way I found to do this was to bunch all the circles together and hold them together with a hair grip paperclip, then leave the side of the embroidery hoop I wanted to tie it onto hanging off the edge of the table. This stopped the circles getting all tangled together and gave me better leverage to do some tying. I tried to keep them relatively evenly spaced, but it turned out once there was more than 4 strips on the hoop it didn't really matter. I just wrapped the thread round and tied it at the top about 4 or 5 times, added a couple of extra knots at the end for stability and clipped the loose ends.

If the cropping on these pics looks weird, it's because my bump was in them ALL
Finally, it was time to simultaneously make dinner and tie the hoops together.**** This was pretty hard, and I still don't think I got it perfect but honestly, the baby doesn't care. I tried to keep the thread completely taut on all sides as I went round tying the hoops together using basically the same technique as I did with tying the strips on, but it was slightly squint in places. I decided to leave this as a reminder that it is home made, therefore love and blood add more character to it, but I suppose you could tie some, see how it looks then adjust as you need to. I provisionally hung it up to take photos see how it looks as I was torn between attaching it to the ceiling using ribbon like the other tutorials or using more thread to make it look like it was hanging invisibly.

I'm glad I waited to put it up properly since my mum has informed me she has actually bought me a mobile that attaches to the crib from 'The World of Beatrix Potter' in the Lake District, so I'm going to move mine above the old chest of drawers changing table instead. Success all round, I'd say. So worth it to have something I really love, in exactly the colours I want hanging up for Kick to stare at.

Other tutorials to follow- bandana bibs, burp clothes, the activity gym and a cheaters baby quilt. Hopefully they'll all be as concise and informative as this one...

*I often wonder about this blind faith I have in my own abilities. Seems insane to make bold pronouncements like 'Yes, I know that lady is charging $60 for that finely made product, but I can totally do it my dining room with the "help" of the cat for half that price' but here I am. I did it and it cost me $24...
** Apparently I shipped water-colours from the UK to the US with me. I am a total knobber.
***The reason I used two circles for each disc was to make it sturdier and also to make it look neater. The back of my card was plain white, so it was totally necessary, but even if the back of yours is the same colour as the front, I would still double side them. It gives it all a bit more gravitas weight.
****Not compulsory, in fact doing it all in one day is a terrible idea unless you have a cat that thinks all dangling things are there for her amusement. Innuendo completely deliberate.


  1. Wow....where to start. First of all, as I already said, it looks AMAZING and I am still so entirely impressed. Secondly, I'm glad I was able to inspire you to do this! Mine was a gift, but I still probably would have paid the $48 for mine because I'm so lazy...unless of course, you had wrangled me into sitting down and doing it (oh and then I would have been SO proud of myself!). Third, I would have bought the stamp cutters (again, laziness).

    Finally...Yay it looks so great hanging up!!

  2. Haha, yours is amazing and actually professional, so less chance of Owen choking himself during the night with a stray circle. It honestly took me much longer than I thought it would, you might have killed me if we'd started it! Next time I'm buying the stamp... have it in my head to make one with snowflakes for Christmas...

  3. This looks amazing - I'd love to have the patience to try something similar with perspex/that clear gel stuff to make one of those lampshades you see in hotels!

    1. I was thing about this too- could look totally amazing but I think I'd worry about heat proofing it. There's ALWAYS someone on the internet that has tried it first though, so it wouldn't be impossible. Let me know if you have a go!

  4. It looks great! Let us know when your Etsy shop is up and running ;)

    1. Ha, I actually think I'd rather eat glass. Pretty sure our 8 year old selves would have given this a fair go...


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