Project Nest! Colorful cardstock mobile

By Published On: August 17th, 2012

Today we’re kicking off Project Nest—P&N’s sweet, little handmade haven. […]

Today we’re kicking off Project Nest—P&N’s sweet, little handmade haven.
So lock and load those glue guns and pull out your popsicle sticks, mamas, it’s about to get crafty in here!

Baby mobiles are awesome tools for distracting fussy babies during diaper changes and enchanting resting babies in their cribs, but they usually cost a pretty penny. Here, we’ll show you how to make your own baby mobile for your budding baby’s gazing pleasure.
Total cost: Less than $20
Total time: The entire project took only about three hours over the course of a couple of days. Not bad for a colorful, unique addition to baby’s nursery!

  • Cardstock
  • Wooden dowels
  • Twine or yarn
  • Fishing line
  • Not shown: needle

These supplies are available at any craft store. I wanted lots of colors, so I picked up a multi-pack of paper for around $9 ($15 with a 40% off coupon; you can almost always find one online for most craft stores). The dowels were $2.50 for 6. I used baker’s twine because I tend to hoard it and had plenty already at home; if you have yarn or thin ribbon hanging around your house, you could use that instead. (And if you don’t find anything you can use, pick up a cheap-y skein of yarn for $2 or so.) I grabbed the fishing line out of our garage (finally, one of my husband’s hobbies meshed with one of mine!).

1. The first step is to cut out all those circles! I originally started with a circle cutter, but it quickly began to annoy me. I tracked down three lids (one from a coffee canister, one from an old pickle jar, and one from my kids’ vitamin bottle), traced them onto my cardstock, and cut them out by hand. Not quite as smooth around the edges as you’d get with a circle cutter, but it was easy and I could do it while watching the Olympics on TV—win/win.

The number of circles you’ll need depends on how full you want your mobile to be; I ended up using 74, about evenly split between the three different sizes. It probably took around an hour and a half to trace and cut all the circles, which I broke up into two nights to give my scissor hand a break.

2. Next, build the base for the mobile. Take your two dowels and X them across each other; using some sort of adhesive (I used hot glue, but a variety of other things would work), secure the two dowels together. Note: This doesn’t have to be a super firm hold, since you’re going to add twine or yarn around the dowels to add more support. It’s just to make the wrapping easier on you by keeping the dowels nicely crossed.

Take your twine or yarn (small ribbon would work also) and begin to wrap it around the center of the dowels, leaving a little tail at the end—you’re going to use that end to tie the twine off when you’ve finished wrapping. Wrap, wrap and wrap some more, changing your directions to cover all four arms. Once you’re convinced it’s well covered, tie off the twine in a triple knot (using the tail you left hanging out at the beginning of the process) and trim the edges.

3. Now it’s time to thread those circles! I like to organize things before I start on them, so I laid out a pattern for how I planned to hang the circles. I wanted three strands on all four arms; the strand farthest out with three sets of circles, a strand of four sets next, and then a strand of five sets closest to the middle. Sometimes I just used one circle to a set, sometimes I used two or three.
To get started, cut a nice long piece of fishing line—I cut way more than I thought I would need and trimmed after the fact, to make sure I had enough. Tie a basic knot near the end of one side, and then double (or triple) knot over it. String the other end of the fishing line through your needle, and pierce the needle through the circle(s) you want to hang at the end of your string.

Let the circles slide right down to the knot; you should be able to hold the fishing line up, and the circles will hang down and catch on the knot. Next, tie another knot a little ways up, where you want your next set of circles to hang. Slide the circle(s) on, and repeat the process until you’ve completed your strand.

4. You can either hang the strands on the dowels as you go, or save them all to hang at the same time. To secure the strands to the dowel, I simply tied them tightly on (again with the triple knots), although I left a tiny bit of slack so I could slide them left or right if necessary to position them more evenly.

Once you’re happy with your knot, trim the excess wire off the end. Repeat this process until you’ve attached all your strands, and voila! Your baby now has a pretty homemade mobile to enjoy gazing at.
To hang the mobile, I simply tied baker’s twine to opposite ends of one of the dowels and looped it through a hook in the ceiling.
There are lots of variations you could do on this project: patterned cardstock, an ombre design, you could even use plain white cardstock and color on designs or patterns with a Sharpie. (High contrast patterns are great for a baby’s developing brain!) You could also paint the dowels before getting started or use a thinner fishing line so the mobile has more of a “floating” effect.
Disclaimer: Mobiles are great for hanging over baby’s crib or changing table, but they aren’t designed for play. Always hang mobiles, including this one, out of baby’s reach.