How to Make a Cloud Nursery Mobile

Apartment Therapy Tutorials

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I've had this idea for a cloud mobile tutorial for months now, but there was always something more pressing to do (I should clarify that, in most cases, neither the mobile nor the more pressing matter was accomplished). This was actually a very easy little project, I'm surprised to say. You never know, when you delve into something new, whether it will go as planned or end up in the unfinished pile in the corner of the closet (along with the partially knitted baby blanket).

The materials needed are very simple and total less than $20, even less if you already have some white yarn laying about. You could add additional ornaments like birds, stars, or thunderbolts, but I like the simplicity of this design. Once it's done, you'll see how beautifully this mobile moves: the clouds are constantly in motion. You may find yourself just staring at them for minutes on end.

Materials:

  • 10" metal hoop or ring
  • 2 pieces (9 x 12) white felt, or enough for three clouds
  • 1 piece gray felt
  • 1 piece black felt
  • Cotton balls, for stuffing (or batting, if you prefer)
  • Strong white thread, black thread, and sewing needle
  • White yarn, I used this in the color "silk" (or embroidery thread)
  • Yarn needle
  • Sharp fabric scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Fishing line, or clear nylon filament for making jewelry (non-elastic)
  • #10 ribbed plastic anchor (drywall screw)
  • #10 screw eye (for hanging)
  • Drill and hammer (for hook)

Instructions

1. To make the clouds, begin by downloading the cloud pattern by clicking the image below:

Follow the directions on the pattern if you want your mobile to be the same color scheme as mine. You could also make gray storm clouds, or colored raindrops, or stick with a monochromatic color scheme for the clouds and raindrops, and create a rainbow effect using multi-colored yarns for the hoop. It's up to you!

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2. Cut out the cloud and raindrop patterns and pin onto two layered pieces of felt. Alternatively, you could use a fabric marker and trace around the template. Cut out the felt pieces. Pin the pieces together as shown to prevent them from shifting while you sew.

Tip: You may want to select a thinner yarn than shown, or perhaps embroidery thread, because it was at times quite difficult to pull the needle through the felt.

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3. Continue to stitch all the way around the cloud, leaving a portion open as shown above (and on the pattern).

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4. Using cotton balls or batting, stuff the clouds while making sure that you push the stuffing all the way into the corners. I fluffed up the pieces of cotton before stuffing, to prevent them from looking lumpy. As the clouds become more full, you can begin to shape them a little.

Tip: Try to overstuff the cloud a little, so that the stuffing is not loose once you have sewn it closed.

5. Once you finish sewing the cloud closed, tie a knot. Push the needle into the stuffing and out through the centre of the cloud. Cut the yarn tight against the fabric, trapping the yarn end within. This enables you to leave a little length of yarn without it showing.

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6. Now you are ready to make the rain drops. Put two raindrop pieces together. Using a blanket stitch, start sewing at the top point of the raindrop, working your way around until you get about an inch away from closing. Break apart some pieces of cotton ball (because the opening is quite small), and stuff the raindrop, using the yarn needle if necessary. Finish sewing closed as detailed for the cloud.

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7. Stitch the raindrops to the cloud using the white thread. I let the middle raindrop hang down about 3" and the outer ones between 1.5-2". It looks nicer if you vary them a little.

Tip: Don't use nylon thread, as the drops are not heavy enough to pull it taut.

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8. Next, we wrap the metal hoop with yarn. I've seen similar mobiles that use the gold hoop unwrapped, but it really didn't match the color scheme of my daughter Olivia's room, and I like having the ability to customize it. I used the same Bernat yarn as for the clouds.

First, determine how much yarn to cut. You don't want to run out halfway through and then have to tie on another piece. Prepare yourself for a little nerdiness now, as I explain how to figure this out (or, you could skip ahead and trust that you should cut about 20' of yarn for a 10" hoop, though it will vary according to your yarn and the size of your hoop).

We have a 10" diameter hoop. We recall from our favorite geometry class that:

circumference = diameter x Pi
So, C = (10)(3.14) = 31.4"

I wrapped some yarn around the hoop until I had about 1" wrapped length. I unravelled this length of yarn, which measured 7".

31.4 x 7 = 219.8" = 18.3'

I always estimate up, for good measure, so assume 20' (unwrap the yarn from your head to your toes 4 times and it should be sufficient).

Tip: Once you start this project, make sure you can dedicate at least 30 minutes to the hoop without having to put it down, or it will unravel.

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9. Tie a bow to secure the yarn (not a knot because you will untie it at the end). Start wrapping the yarn around the hoop, making sure to keep the loops taut and very close together. Keep the wrapped portion bound tightly as you work your way around the hoop.

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10. When you've made your way around the hoop once, untie the starting bow and tie the two pieces of yarn together in a tight knot.

Tip: Tie the knot at the top, rather than the side of the hoop, so that it won't be visible from beneath the mobile.

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11 Attach three pieces of nylon thread (each 36" long) at equidistant points on the hoop. Holding all 3 pieces of thread, tie a loose knot to join the threads together, as shown in the diagram above. Hover the hoop about 1/2" over a horizontal surface, adjusting the three pieces of thread until the hoop is level. Once you are satisfied, tighten the knot to permanently set the angle of the hoop. Do this before attaching the clouds.

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12. Using strong thread or nylon filament, attach the clouds to the same three points as above. Make sure that the thread you are using is not likely to snap, causing the mobile to fall in the crib. I suggest hanging each cloud down at least 8" and adjusting their height by looping them over the hoop. I think they look best staggered by at least 1 1/2" in height.

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13. To hang the mobile, I used a size #10 screw eye hook and a ribbed plastic anchor that fit size #8-10. Mark the area on the ceiling where you want to hang the mobile. Follow the directions on the packaging to determine the drill bit size and to attach the anchor.

Tip: Make one or two knots up the length of your combined threads, from which to hang your mobile. This will give you the option of raising the mobile to keep it out of reach. Trim the excess thread.

For safety reasons, consider not hanging the mobile directly over the crib.

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Baby's-Eye View
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(Image credits: Katerina Buscemi; Cheryl C. Fall)

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