Nov 28, 2014

A Tool Themed Second Birthday Party


My nephew is basically a child prodigy when it comes to tools. And not the 'Oh! How cute! He is holding a hammer the right way' type. It is more the 'Quick! He is disassembling the baby gate' type. With two mechanical engineers for parents no one is completely surprised. 

Despite living a 4 hour plane flight away, it has worked out that I could be there for all of his birthdays (all 2 of them). My sister-in-law figured out a long time ago that I get unusually excited about parties and was gracious enough to let me help with the planning and baking. Also, I could definitely get used to throwing parties with someone else's money. My nephew's first birthday was an adorable Nemo party - check out the smash cake and sugar cookies here. When his second birthday rolled around this summer, his party theme was obvious: Tools! 


Hands down my favorite part about this party was the toolbox birthday cake and tool cookies. Oh or maybe the party favors. Hmmm. Well, we'll start with the cake. You have no idea how close this cake was to being a 'Pinterest fail'. I stretched my very modest skills with this one. Thankfully, with a few carefully placed cookies and a bit of styrofoam, I pulled it off. I considered it a success when people walked by without realizing it was the cake. In case you are wondering, the lid of the cake is fondant-covered styrofoam attached at an angle to the cake base with bamboo skewers. I'm sure there is a more 'professional' way to do that, but my MacGyver'd version worked great. The tools are my go-to sugar cookies decorated in a glaze icing. 

   
In an effort to keep the party more 'tool' and less 'construction', we made the Happy Birthday banner a giant tool belt. A second tool garland decorated the food table. (Both garlands were cut with a Silhouette Cameo.)  



The balloons, plates, cups and forks were all kept in the red/black/yellow color scheme. We had a little fun with the food service and borrowed some of my nephew's toys. The utensils were wrapped in napkins, sealed with 'tape measure' washi tape, and set inside a toy toolbox. Toy dump trucks held the party favors and a few packaged sweets.


The party favors were a big hit with the kiddos. We had a lot of fun putting together these little tool belt goodie bags. The tool belts themselves are less than a dollar each at Home Depot and perfect for little people. We found the plastic tools at Toys R Us and my brother added the tiny tape measures, paint brushes, and carpenter's pencils after a trip to Home Depot.


And finally, I'll leave you with what turned out to be an unintentional yet incredibly appropriate front door decoration. Speaking from experience, 2 year olds should always be approached with caution.


Oct 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Burlap Banner


I dislike Halloween. If my son weren't so darn cute in costumes I'd probably forget the holiday all together. I just can't get into it. I much prefer Thanksgiving. Counting our blessings, visiting family, watching football, eating ridiculous amounts of good food...that is a holiday I can really get behind. It should be no surprise, then, that when fall rolls around in my house I skip straight to the Thanksgiving decorations. 

To be fair, by 'Thanksgiving decorations' I mean a fairly small collection of pumpkins (including my popular pumpkin place card holders I shared last year). Reminded of my apparent obsession with pumpkins again this year, I thought my decorations could use a bit more variety. So, with the burlap left over from this project, I set out to diy a simple banner reminding me to give thanks. In the midst of what has turned out to be a fairly tough year for me, I am trying to cultivate a thankful heart instead of one too focused on the trials of late. The Lord has blessed me immensely in many ways and I am excited to be reminded of that every time I look at my banner. 

Materials: 
Burlap (amount needed depends on size of your banner flags and your saying)
Ribbon (make sure it is long enough for all the letters plus extra on each side for hanging)
Hot Glue Gun
Paint (I used Martha Stewart metallic paint in Rust)
Paint Brush
Stencils (I cut custom stencils with my Silhouette Cameo, but any template or stencil would work)  



Start by ironing the burlap. Then use a template or stencil for the banner flags to trace the outline onto the burlap as a cutting guide. Cut all the flags. Next prepare your letter stencils. I used my silhouette cameo to cut the letter stencils directly onto the banner flag templates, but separate letter stencils would also work. Tape the stencil over the cut burlap flag and dab the paint onto the burlap. If there are any middle pieces for the letter (like in the 'A' below), I usually try to stick them down with a small amount of tape before painting.  Ignore the paint color in the stencil pictures - I started out with a lighter gold, but found that it was too light against the burlap so I switched instead to the Rust color.


Once all the letters are dry, it is time to attach it to the ribbon. Lay your ribbon down (right side down) as a guide. Place each letter (also right side down) onto the ribbon and adjust them to the final spacing. Then use a hot glue gun to adhere the burlap to the ribbon. Burlap frays quite a bit so I added a generous amount of Fray Check to the border of each flag. Once the hot glue and fray check are dry you are ready to hang your banner! 


And here it is as part of my mantel decorations. 



"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him." Psalm 28:7




Sep 30, 2014

Blind Tasting Party Kit - A DIY Wedding Gift Tutorial and Free Printable


I've been a little quiet on the blog front recently, mostly because I have just fit three trips and two weddings into the last two months. Any trip with a toddler is tiring, and three in a row was, well, also tiring. Not to mention my hubby made a same day turnaround from the last trip to fly to NZ for work (poor thing). He says he is working hard, but I much prefer to picture him pretending to be Frodo in the middle of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. So, meanwhile back here in CA, I'm a bit travel weary and distracting myself from missing my husband with a lot of Project Runway, crafting, party planning, and blogging. Which brings me to this little project I made as a wedding gift from the first of the two weddings this month. Right on the shores of Lake Tahoe on a spectacularly clear day, it was likely the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended.

I went back and forth on what to purchase the newlyweds. With my inclination to handmade and personal gifts, I sometimes find solely purchasing from the registry a bit boring. Don't get me wrong, I always get something from the registry. The couple has spent a long time picking out exactly what they want to start their home together, I figure I should pay attention. However, exclusively buying off the registry can feel a bit impersonal. I have started doing two things to add a little personality: picking a theme and adding a little DIY goodie to accompany the gift. For example, say the couple registers for a glass pitcher, I would then add my favorite hand lemon/lime juicer, and my favorite recipes for sangria and margaritas. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but just the little extra touch makes it feel a bit more special.

For this recent wedding we purchased the couple a lovely big slate cheese board from the registry. And what do I pair with cheese? Wine, obviously. But instead of buying a bottle of wine, I stole an idea from a party my sister-in-law threw a few years ago and created a Blind Tasting Party Kit. (If you are unfamiliar, the idea behind a blind tasting party is for the guests to taste 4 unmarked bottles of the same type of wine or champagne and rank them according to price.) This gift kit is not exclusively for weddings, but I particularly love the idea for such an occasion as it is intended to get the couple excited about hosting a party as newlyweds.


As with any handmade gift, my goal was to keep it classy and modern (not 'crafty'). And what says classy more than a wine bottle in a suit and bow tie? To complete the styling, and true to my current obsession, I also detailed the cards and tags with a modern calligraphy. And as a little gift for you, I have included files of all the calligraphy used in this project if you want to use the same look! Check it out here.

Blind Tasting Party Kit Contents:

4 Wine/Champagne Bottle 'Suits'
4 Bottle Bow Ties
4 Wine Bottle Tags (A-D)
Guest Cards

Instructions


Materials to Make Your Own Kit:

Fabric: 4 (9"x31") rectangles for the 'suits', 4 (4"x4.5") rectangles for the bow ties, 4 (2.5" x 1.5") strips for the bow tie centers
4 Hair Elastics
Thread
Sewing Machine
Scissors
Iron
Cardstock Paper
Printer or Calligraphy Pen and Ink
Ribbon
Gift Box

Wine/Champagne Bottle 'Suits'

Cut four 9" x 31" rectangles out of the fabric for the wine bottle 'suits'. I used a subtle black and gray pinstripe I found on a big sale at Joann's. It even had an awesome lighter gray on the wrong side of the fabric which turned out perfect for a contrasting bow tie. Fold each rectangle in half so that you have four 9" x 15.5" pieces. The fold line will become the bottom of each bottle bag.



Cut a notch on both sides of each bag where the cut side meets the fold line. Each notch should be 1" tall and 1.5" wide (using the same orientation as the wine bottle height and width). Now turn each piece of fabric so that it is still folded in half, but with the wrong side of the fabric out. Pin and sew along the two long sides of the bottle bags with a 1/2" seam allowance. Do not sew into the notch. Iron these seams open flat.


Next match up the top of the notch with the bottom of the notch and seam with a 3/8" seam allowance.


To finish off the top of the bottle bag, while the bottle bag is still inside out, fold out the top 1/4" all around the top, pin, and seam the top with an 1/8" seam. Then fold the fabric out again 1" to 1.5" and seam directly on top of the first previous seam. Turn right side out.


Bottle Bow Ties

To make the bottle bow ties, take each 4" x 4.5" rectangle, fold it wrong side out and iron it in half so you have a 4" x 2.25" rectangle.


I'm going to suggest two ways to start the bow ties. First, there is the way I did it: Sew along the long edge of the rectangle. Turn the rectangle right side out. Fold in each end pin together. Top stitch each end with a 1/8" seam. Now, there is an alternate way that removes the topstitching on either side of the bow tie (I don't have photos here): Start with the ironed rectangles. Sew along the two short open sides with a 1/8" seam allowance. Then sew along the open long side, leaving a gap in the center to turn the bow tie right side out. Once sewn, turn the bow tie right side out through the gap and iron flat, folding over the fabric at the gap to match the seam. The rest of the instructions for the bow ties are the same regardless of how you completed the above steps.


Then pinch the fabric in the center neatly and stitch two short segments along the bow tie center to keep it pinched together (this would close the gap if you did the alternate method). On a side note, how fabulous is this manicure. I just tried Jamberry nail wraps for the first time - super fun! Next take the 4 small strips, fold the top and the bottom into meet the center (right side out) and iron flat so that you have long thin strips. Wrap the ironed strip around the center stitched part of the bow tie and a hair elastic and stitch in the back.


The hair ties easily wrap around the bottle to close the bag and it completes the look of the suit.


Cards and Tags

Now for the game, you need four tags (one to identify each bottle) and cards for each guest to record their guesses. To match the suit fabric, I chose a light gray card stock and a dark black ink. I hand calligraphed the four tags (A-D) and added a strip of black ribbon to each. To prevent having to hand calligraph all the guest cards, I created one template, scanned it, and then printed it onto the same gray card stock which I then cut into strips. I've included the file here so you can use the same cards and tags.


Gift Box

The final step was packaging. First, I purchased a simple brown kraft gift box from Michaels.



I rolled up the four suits and lightly wrapped each one in a hair elastic bow tie.


I packaged the cards and tags in a glassine bag, sealed with washi tape. And finally, I printed an instruction sheet (included here) explaining the game.



After it was all packed up neatly in the box, I couldn't help but add a calligraphy label to the top of the box and a few bows with the same ribbon from the tags.


And there you have what is sure to be a unique wedding gift and hopefully a fun party!



Jul 20, 2014

DIY Butterfly Wing Kit


I normally consider myself a 'rule follower'. Just ask my husband and he'll give you countless examples of my inability to break a rule. Or don't ask him, rather, as I am sure that would end up in some embarrassing story. However, one of my favorite little people turned 3 a few weeks ago and I promptly ignored the 'no gifts, please' on the party invitation without a second thought. I'm such a rebel, I know. Well, if I am being completely honest here, I thought about it a little bit, but only to come up with a way to give her a gift without contributing to the over-abundance of toys that plagues many a parent. Solution - give a gift that is really an activity. And instead of another 'craft' that gets stuffed in a box, how about a project that results in a unique set of butterfly wings for playing dress up? I can't exactly remember being 3 very well, but I have a feeling this craft/dress up combo would have been right up my alley. And bonus for the parents - it takes up minimal space once completed. Just throw it in the dress up bin with all the princess dresses and call it a day.
 

Wing Materials
Fabric - I used muslin, but other fabric like canvas would work also
Scissors
Pencil
Black Craft Paint
Fabric Medium
Paint brush
Black ribbon
Black thread and sewing machine
Fray Check (optional)


To make the wings, fold the fabric in half and sketch the wing outline with the fold of fabric as the center of the wings. Be mindful of the age/size of the child. Cut along the outline and lay the fabric flat on the ground. Outline (again in pencil) the areas you want to paint black. Using the monarch butterfly as an inspiration, I drew a simplified black outline with white spots around the wing edges. Be sure to leave lots of open space for the little artist to add her special touch. After mixing the medium and black craft paint per instructions on the paint medium bottle, paint the outlined black sections and let dry. I had originally intended to only paint one side of the fabric, but after seeing how the paint bled through, I thought making double sided wings would be even better. The following day I flipped the (now dry) fabric over and painted the same pattern on the other side. I didn't need to fray check the edges of the wings because the black paint 'sealed' the edges pretty well on its own.


At this point you will have beautiful wings, but no way to secure them to your little butterfly. Without exact arm measurements, I needed a simple and adjustable way to attach the wings to her arms that would allow for a range of sizes. After a little brainstorming I settled on a simple ribbon to tie on each arm.  First you will need to cut black ribbons about 18" long. Fold the ribbons in half and pin the center of each ribbon in position along the top of the wings an equal distance from the center. Sew the ribbon to the wings by sewing about an inch up and down a few times. You can fray check the edge of the ribbons as desired.



Now for the really fun part - assembling the kit. To fill your kit, you will need the following:

Kit Materials
3 Paint colors
Paint brush
Fabric Medium and black paint (used above)
3 small mason jars (for paint/medium mixing)
Printable Instructions for the parents
Clear plastic paint can and Silhouette Cameo with vinyl (optional for gift wrap)

You can use as many paint colors as you want here, but I found three to be a good balance of giving the little one options while not requiring mom/dad to mix a bunch of different colors with the medium. I did include the bottle of black paint used to create the wings in case they wanted to 'touch up' the black outline after the other painting was completed. I also printed some instructions for mom and dad, which can be found here.



At this point I had an adorable pile of paints, tiny jars, and butterfly wings and it would have been a shame to hide all of this in a box. So I packed it all up into a clear plastic paint can and the result was almost too perfect. I mean a painting kit in a paint can...come on. The contents of the paint can were already a bit 'busy', so I kept the can decorations minimal. By now you have probably realized that I use my Silhouette Cameo in nearly every project, so it should be no shock that I pulled it out here to make a custom label. I meshed a butterfly onto a scalloped frame, added the text, and then cut the whole label from a roll of hot pink vinyl. The vinyl stuck perfectly to the side of the paint can.


I look forward to seeing how they turn out! She's going to make a lovely butterfly.
 

Jul 19, 2014

Waterproof Picnic Blanket and Handle Wrap | A Tutorial


What do you give the person who has just about everything? I come upon this question all too frequently around gift giving occasions. Not because my family members are difficult to please, but rather because I just don't want to give them more 'stuff'. I find this particularly difficult with the guys of the family. I usually rely on my husband for 'guy ideas' - tools, bike stuff, gadgets etc. - stuff they will like and actually use. But every year there is one person that stumps us both. This year it was our brother-in-law. When we really get stumped we seem to explore 'experience gifts' (e.g. tickets to a game) or something handmade that will (hopefully) encourage fun experiences. After much brainstorming, online shopping (I have a toddler, gift shopping now rarely happens in stores), and reflection on their life/interests, I had an idea.

Now my sister and brother-in-law live in London with their two adorable dogs, Shirley and Frau. Last summer they generously invited us (and our 15 mo old at the time) to come visit in Oxford and London. They even put up with us and an overstimulated baby for two full weeks. We had ridiculously good weather while there and spent our days going on walks, exploring parks, and relaxing. I love London. I particularly love Green Park. Some of my best memories of London take place in parks. And though I have had sunny skies both times I have visited, rumor has it they have frequent rain. Where am I going with this? Well, I decided to make them a picnic blanket. A waterproof (rain = wet ground) and washable (dogs+parks+wet ground = mud) picnic blanket.


Now sure you can buy picnic blankets and some of them are really great. I happen to love mine that was purchased for us as a wedding gift almost 6 years ago. And that is where I started, but I just couldn't find one within our price range that seemed to fit their personality. Now by this time it was getting really close to Christmas and I was kind of freaking out. So I did what I really hate to do...I gave the 'promise' of a custom picnic blanket as his gift. And this apparently turned in to a long term promise as it is now July and I have just finished the gift. Do I feel horrible! Well, hopefully it was worth the wait!

After much searching in fabric stores, I could not seem to find the right combination of pattern, color, and durability. So I grabbed two compatible blue colors of Canvas Duck Cloth and set out to make a sufficiently gender neutral custom stripe pattern. And, of course, this would be no simple stripe pattern of equal widths, but a gradient of widths and alternating colors.

After a little math, I settled finished blanket dimensions of the full width of the fabric (approximately 60") x 84" (7 feet or 2 1/3 yards). (Apologies in advance for mixing inches, feet, and yards together in my measurement denotations below.) This length worked perfectly for stripe widths starting at 4" and incrementing by 4" up to 24".

For the waterproof layer, I decided on PUL (polyurethane laminate, 1Mil). This fabric makes up the outer shell of my cloth diapers and I've been impressed with its waterproof qualities and it is still soft, lightweight, and washable! I ordered 3 yards in a lovely Royal Blue from amazon. (I only needed 2 1/2 yards with seam allowances, but I wanted some buffer.)



Materials for the Blanket
2 1/2 yards of PUL (2 1/3 yards + seam allowances)
51" (approx 1 1/2 yards) of one color of canvas duck cloth
39" (approx 1 1/4 yards) of a second color of canvas duck cloth
Coordinating thread
Sewing Machine
Pins
Cutting and Measuring Tools
Iron and Ironing Board

Pre-wash all fabrics and dry according to fabric care instructions.

Cutting the Blanket Fabric
To end up with finished stripe dimensions of 24", 20", 16", 12", 8", and 4" you will need to account for seam allowances (1/2" used here) and cut canvas strips of 25", 21", 17", 13", 9", and 5". Remember the second dimension of the strips in each case is the full width of the fabric (around 60"). The canvas color that you have 51" of will be cut into strips of 25", 17", and 9". Likewise, the canvas color that you have 39" of will be cut into strips of 21", 13", and 5". The PUL should be cut to a length of 85".

Assembling the Canvas Stripes
First place all stripes next to each other on the floor in the order they will be sewn with right sides up. Start assembling the canvas stripes in pairs. First, place the right sides together of the 25" and 21" stripes and pin along the joining side. Repeat for the 17" and 13" pair, and the 9" and the 5" pair. Sew each pair along the pinned edge with a 1/2" seam allowance. You will then have three sewn pairs. Again lie all three pieces on the floor as they will be assembled in the final blanket. Pin the 25"/21" pair to the 17"/13" pair along the joining side with right sides together. Sew along the pinned edge with a 1/2" seam allowance. Again lay the pieces on the floor and pin the final 9"/5" pair to the rest of the blanket along the final joining side with right sides together. Sew along the pinned side with a 1/2" seam allowance.  The canvas stripes should now be fully assembled into the top of the blanket!

Press the seams flat (open) on the wrong side of the blanket (shown below) and iron any wrinkles or creases in the canvas. Once attached to the PUL, you will not be able to iron the blanket without damaging the PUL.



Blanket Assembly

Next lay the PUL shiny side up on the floor. Place the striped blanket (right side down) on top of the shiny side of the PUL. In other words the two right sides of the fabric should be facing each other (together). Remember you will want to minimize pinning because you are poking holes in the waterproof layer. Also, the PUL will stretch slightly in one direction as you sew. To accommodate for this, I lightened up the pressure on the presser foot and pinned/sewed one side at a time. I also would suggest sewing down both sides and across the top and bottom in the same direction (e.g. left to right) instead of in a continuous line around the blanket to prevent twisting due to stretching in different directions. Start by pinning (sparingly) along the top side of the blanket. Sew along the pinned side with a 1/2" seam allowance and stop (backstitching at both ends). Once I completed this, I only noticed about 1/4" of stretching with my PUL which wasn't too bad. Next pin along the length of the blanket and sew. Then pin down the other long side of the blanket and sew. Finally, pin and sew the bottom of the blanket in the same direction as the top, leaving about 18" open in the center of this side. This gap will allow be used to turn the blanket right side out and will be closed upon topstitching.

Cut the corners of the blanket which will make for cleaner corners upon turning right side out. Be careful not to nip the seams. Turn the blanket right side out. Remember do not press the blanket. Instead, straighten the blanket, push the corners out fully (I use a point turner), and make sure the edges are fully laid out and ready for topstitching. Fold and pin the open section to match the rest of the blanket. I did also pin the edges of the blanket on all sides (sparingly) to make sure the edges stayed fully laid out and straight. Top stitch around the entire blanket 1/4" from the edge. I did complete this in one continuous seam all the way around the blanket. Pay particular attention to the area that had been left open, making sure the top stitching catches the folded fabric and seals the blanket fully.



Voila, the blanket is complete! However, carrying a large blanket to and from a park can be a bit frustrating if there is no way to keep it all together. As this gift was already 7! months late, I figured I would go the extra mile and make a matching blanket wrap with handle.

Materials for the Wrap/Handle
2 pieces of canvas fabric 11" x 21"
1 strip of canvas 3 1/2" x 10"
Two Buttons, 1" diameter
Coordinating thread
Sewing Machine
Pins
Cutting and Measuring Tools
Iron and Ironing Board


Wrap Dimensions and Assembly
To determine the dimensions of the wrap, I folded the finished picnic blanket in thirds the long way and rolled it up. Then I measured the width and circumference. I settled on finished dimensions of the wrap to be 10" x 20" (plus 1/2" seam allowances on all sides), hence the two 11" x 21" rectangles of canvas. For construction of the wrap, you can think of the wrap as if it were a tiny blanket. First, pin the two pieces of fabric with the right sides together and stitch around the edge of the blanket with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving a few inches open on one of the sides. Snip the corners and turn the blanket right side out through the open seam. Press the corners out fully and iron flat. Fold the fabric at the open section to match the rest of the seam and pin together. Topstitch around the border of the wrap 1/4" from the edge, again making sure that the area left open is caught and sealed by the topstitch.



Now find your two 1" buttons and place them approximately 3 inches from edges of the long side of the wrap and about an inch in from the edge of the short side. Sew the buttons to the wrap. Next mark the locations of the button holes. When folded up in thirds lengthwise and rolled, my blanket measured approximately 18" in circumference. This meant that I needed the center point of my buttons to be 18" from the outermost end of the button hole. Sew the button holes and cut the center open. Test the buttons and fit around the blanket.


Handle Dimensions and Assembly
And finally, it is time to make the handle. With a desired handle dimension of 1.5" x 8", you will need a 3.5" x 10" strip of fabric. Fold the strip in half lengthwise (right sides together) and sew along the long open side. Turn the 'tube' you have just created inside out and press with an iron. Top stitch along both long sides 1/8" from the edge to create a finished look. At both ends of the handle, fold under 1" of the handle and press a crease. Position the handle where you want it on the wrap (I did mine in the middle) and pin it in place, making sure the 1" portions on each side are folded under. Where the handle overlaps the 1" portions on each end of the handle, sew a box around the overlapping parts and an x across the center of the box for stability.


Care for the Blanket
With some of the special handling needed with waterproof material, I would suggest including care/washing instructions for your blanket. I included the following on a tag with the gift:

Waterproof Blanket Care 
Wash the blanket on medium to high heat
Do not use fabric softeners or bleach
Tumble dry low or air dry
Do not iron


Now I kind of want to make these blankets for everyone. I think they would make spectacular wedding gifts, bridal shower gifts, birthday gifts...you get the idea. If I didn't already have a picnic blanket I would make myself one too!

Jul 18, 2014

DIY Felt Nursery Mobile - A Baby Shower Group Activity



If you have read any of my baby shower posts, you have probably noticed that I am a huge fan of forgetting the often awkward baby shower games and instead completing a group activity or project. I've held a few no-game baby showers, and judging by the look of relief on the guests' faces they seem to be a welcome change-up. At a recent safari animal themed shower I tested an idea that has turned out to be my favorite so far - making a felt animal mobile! I think what I love most about this project is that the result was a special keepsake for the nursery made by friends and family.



You might be thinking...'How on earth do you make an entire mobile in the span of one baby shower?' Well, you don't. But with a little planning and prep work, you can get the bulk of the work done while keeping it fun and relaxed.

So, where do you start? With the mom-to-be.

As a rule, when I am considering creating something for the nursery, I opt for discussing the details with the mom-to-be instead of keeping it a surprise. I know I was picky about what went into my nursery and you really want her to like it! I discussed a few potential projects with the guest of honor before we settled on the mobile. We also talked specifics on the animal designs, colors, and materials. Let her be as involved as she wants to be - this should be fun for her too:).

As I mentioned, this project took a fair bit of planning and pre-shower prep work. You can draw inspiration for your mobiles from anywhere - pinterest, etsy, google images. Get creative! Inspiration for these animals came from various images and patterns online, though in the end I had to size and hand draw each one, adjusting the pattern so that each animal would be double sided. You can find all of my prep work, templates, and instruction packets here. We ended up with nine animals: toucan, lion, tiger, rhino, hippo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, alligator.





To give the guests the best shot of finishing on time, you will need to completed some of the work in advance. Prior to the shower I suggest you:

Select designs and make patterns
Purchase materials (see list below)
Pre-cut all the felt pieces
Embroider any details (like the animal faces)
Complete one animal as an example (and to help you write the instructions)
Type up instructions for each animal and take pictures of what the animals should look like assembled (see my instructions here)
Assemble an activity packet for each animal including: embroidery thread, needle, instructions, photo, and all the pre-cut animal pieces

The day of the shower, each guest received an activity packet including all the items they would need to complete her animal. We also placed a few shared supplies in the middle of the table: fabri-tac, scissors, pins, bamboo skewers and fiber-fill for stuffing.



The guests were tasked with assembling the pieces per the photos, glueing on any details, lightly stuffing the animal, and sewing the border. This turned out to be plenty of work to keep them busy, and in the end I only had to finish up a few of the animals.



One last quick note before I go into the after-shower mobile assembly - You might want to consider having an alternative project available for those less comfortable with crafting. This is also a good idea if you have more guests than mobile animals. A mobile with 23 animals might be a bit ridiculous (or it could be awesome - your call). See my safari baby shower post for the details of the alternative project we chose - animal silhouette art.


Final assembly of the mobile is too much to expect within the 'limitations' of a baby shower. Promising the guests that I would send pictures of the completed mobile, I packed up the animals and supplies for assembly at home. I'll also confess that at the time of the shower I wasn't entirely clear on the assembly specifics. Thankfully, it turned out to be easier than I expected.


First, I attached a long strand of white embroidery thread to the top of each animal. It is important to attach this thread not necessarily in the middle of the animal, but at a point that results in a balanced animal (not slanted to one side).  I put a small dab of glue on the knot to prevent unraveling. For additional decoration and color, I strung tiny felt balls on the thread above the animals.

There are a few options for the frame of a mobile.  I chose to use embroidery hoops - one 14" and one 7" diameter hoop, both painted white with craft paint. (I didn't think of this at the time, but you could also have a few guests paint the embroidery hoops during the shower.) After I decided how to allot animals between the two hoops and recruited my lovely assistant (aka my husband), I started the final assembly.

Once all the animals were secured to thread, I fed each animal's thread between the two pieces of the embroidery hoop, spacing them evenly around the circumference.  Gathering all the animal strands for the outer hoop together, I lifted the assembly off the table like it would hang from the ceiling. At this point my husband held the strands so I could balance the mobile. After carefully positioning the animals at the same height, I tightened the embroidery hoop to secure the threads in place. Then I tied the bunch of threads to a small wooden ring (also painted white), making sure the embroidery hoop stayed evenly balanced. Once the outer hoop was secured, I repeated the positioning and balancing of the animals for the second smaller hoop. Positioning the smaller hoop to hang inside and slightly below the larger hoop, I secured the second hoop threads to the same small wooden ring, again making sure the mobile stayed evenly balanced. You can add small dabs of glue to secure parts of the mobile as needed.

{Update: In the time since this party, I have completed DIY mobiles at two other baby showers. A second option for constructing the mobile uses only the inner wooden ring of the embroidery hoop. Essentially you complete all the above steps, but instead of sandwiching the thread between the two hoops, you simply wrap the thread around the inner continuous hoop (not the one with the screw and opening) and secure it with a knot. This method works equally as well and removes the screw portion of the hoop from the mobile. Just be sure to pay particular attention to balancing the mobile while tying the knots.}


I delivered the mobile to the mom-to-be as soon as it was finished. I'm thrilled with how it turned out. It looks very happy to me. I have a feeling this is not the last mobile I'll be making at a baby shower.

Materials:
Fabri-Tac
Embroidery needles
Embroidery thread in matching colors to sew the animal border and hang the animals from the frame
Felt sheets - I used 100% wool
Felt balls - I used 100% wool
Scissors
Pins (optional)
Bamboo skewers
Fiberfill
Embroidery hoops - one 14" and one 7"
Craft paint and brush
Small wood ring