Butterfly Mobile Tutorial

7 Feb

I saw this in Pottery Barn Kids one day and couldn’t bring myself to spend $79 for it.  Making things for cheap?  Pure happiness.  So I fumbled through several attempts and finally got this made for Doodlebug’s room.  Pardon the picture quality.  Also?  I can’t for the life of me figure out how to center these pics.  So bear with me.

Flower Mobile

It’s been my go-to project for friends and family having baby girls.  Each time I make one, it’s completely different.  Which I love.  My new bestie just had her second baby and this one is for her.

You’ll need:

  • 2 metal or wooden rings (I used the solid halves of two cross stitch circles for this one, but have had good success with wreath rings, too.  Both can be found at a craft shop.  For this project, I used one 6” inch ring and one 14” ring.
  • 25 yards of 5/8” ribbon.  I like grosgrain, but I suppose another would work.  I order my ribbon online and get 50 yds for about $10.
  • Hot glue gun
  • Jewelry thread (or a thin fishing line)
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Paper punch in desired shape:  I found the butterfly punch at JoAnn’s for $7 on sale (score!).  I also needed paint to do an accent on each butterfly – but this is optional.
  • Ruler and protractor (my cutting mat has angle measurements on it).
  • Marker
  • Lighter (for sealing ribbon ends)

A couple of notes before getting started…  Don’t forget to heat seal the ends of your ribbon as you work to keep them from fraying.  Pass the cut end of the ribbon quickly through a flame and you’re all set.  Also, hot glue is HOT, so be careful.

1) Wrap each ring in ribbon:  I anchor the end using hot glue, wrap the ribbon on an angle, and put down more glue every few inches.

2) Determine where to tie the thread for hanging each ring:  Trace the c ircles onto a piece of scrap paper as shown.  Use the ruler to make a vertical line that goes through the center of both circles.  Then using your protractor (or in my case, a scrap of paper made using the angle marks on my cutting mat), measure and mark out lines every 60 degrees.  Basically, you’re cutting each half of the circles into thirds.  I have circled the places where you will want to tie the two rings together.  I like to take a marker and make a tiny dot on the actual rings.  No one will ever notice.  Promise.

Layout Marks

3) Decide how high you want to hang the small circle above the large circle:  I used 8 inches for this mobile.  Cut three pieces of clear thread (12 inches or so).  Tie each string (a double knot will do) onto the small ring where you marked it before.  Then measure 8 inches from each of the knots you just made and mark the threads with your permanent marker.  Now tie each thread to the coordinating mark on the large ring, matching up the marks on the threads with the marks on the rings.  Tie knots for each.

Flower Mobile

4) Tie on the thread used for hanging the whole mobile:  Take a 15 inch piece of thread and tie it onto the small ring in two places, with each knot directly across the circle from the other (end points of the diameter, for my fellow math geeks).  I usually eyeball this and it becomes very obvious if I don’t have them just right once I hold it up.

Hanging Frame

5) Lift the mobile by the hanging thread:  See how it hangs.  If anything needs to be adjusted, this is the time.  Once you feel pretty sure the mobile is well-balanced, use a dot of hot glue at each knot to keep it from slipping.  I also like to tie a knot at the very top, making a 1-inch loop for easy hanging.  I hang mine from my chandelier while I’m working with it.  The tape you see is my way of marking the halfway points of each third.  It helps me glue on my ribbons evenly.

6) Cut and attach ribbons to top ring:  Cut 24 equal lengths of ribbon.  I used 17” lengths.  Don’t forget to heat seal all the cut ends.  Loop the ribbons over the top ring and glue.  I glue the ribbon to itself (not the ring) – it lets me move the ribbons around if something’s not quite right.  Eight ribbons will go in each of the sections you made with the threads that connect the two rings.  Mine ended up spaced apart by about 3/4”.

Top Ribbon

7) Attach ribbons to bottom ring:  Take each hanging ribbon down and inside the bottom ring, then bring it up in front of the bottom ring.  You’ll want the ribbons to droop below the bottom ring.  Loop the ribbon up and over the ring and glue.

Bottom Ribbon

8) Decorate the hanging thread:  Cut a 20” piece of ribbon and heat seal.  Find the center of the ribbon and make two loops.  Take loops around the knot you made at the top of the hanging thread, and tie in a simple knot.  (The picture helps, here.)  Adjust the resulting bow until it looks pretty.  Then loosely wrap the ends of the ribbon around each thread, securing at the top ring.

Tie Bow

9) Prepare butterflies (or flowers, leaves, etc):  I punched out 120 butterflies and had a few left over for spares.  It looked flat when I started hanging them, so I stopped and painted yellow bodies on each butterfly with some acrylic craft paint.

10) Attach butterflies using dots of hot glue:  It takes some trial and error with each project to find a spacing I like.  I usually end up peeling a few off to adjust and make changes.  Here I was going for a  “a rabble of butterflies just happened to land on this green chandelier” kind of look.  And yes, “rabble” is actually what you call a group of butterflies.  I had to google it.

Butterfly Mobile

I’ve different mobiles using flowers, leaves, and butterflies.  But there are many options.  I came across this version at Living with Lindsay the other day while searching for the Pottery Barn image link.  The birds give it a more modern feel, I think.  Very pretty.  You could do stars and moons…bubbles…fireflies…or perhaps take the ribbon-wrapped mobile frame and instead of using ribbons, hang sports balls/airplanes/sea creatures from more clear thread.

Final Mobile

Here’s the final project.  Total cost was about $15 and two hours of time.  And that was with my toddler “helping” me.  I can’t wait to give it as a gift – I hope J knows how much love went into this for her new little girl.

Happy crafting!  Feel free to ask questions if anything’s not clear.  I’m happy to help.

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