DIY Nursery Mobile with Butterflies

As promised way back in that last nursery update, which talked about furniture additions, today I’m finally back with the details of the handmade mobile I put together for over the crib. It was a simple, inexpensive, not-very-time-consuming project, and the following is a sneak peek of the end result:

A preview of the finished butterfly mobile in the nursery.

The idea of using butterflies for the mobile seemed to fit in well with the overall animal-and-wildlife theme of the nursery, and plus it seemed like a nice little feminine touch in an otherwise gender-neutral room. The supply list was as follows:

  • 1 large embroidery hoop
  • 1 dowel rod
  • 1 package of craft beads
  • Heavy paper in several different colors
  • Spool of florists’ wire (optional)
  • Thread, glue, scissors, small hand saw

Although I’ve lost track of the exact total (one of the unfortunate side affects of writing crafty blog posts too long after doing the project) the whole thing was somewhere in the ballpark of $10 or $15 worth of craft supplies from Michael’s. For the paper, I picked five different colors of heavy cardstock, and also a few different colors for the thread, although in retrospect this was mostly pointless since the thread is too thin to see from any distance.

Paper, Beads, String (Craft Supplies)

String, paper, and beads for making the mobile.

The top of the mobile was made by attaching the solid part of the large embroidery hoop to two pieces of the dowel rod arranged in an “x”, which I measured and cut down to the correct length using a simple handheld saw in our basement. The pieces were glued together, and for added sturdiness I reinforced the seams by wrapping them in florist’s wire. (This may have also been pointless, but I seem to have bad luck with glued things falling apart and didn’t want to have to worry about it.)

Embroidery Hoop for Craft Mobile

Embroidery hoop with dowel rods for mobile base.

For the butterflies, I expected to be able to find a good butterfly template online, but this proved surprisingly difficult… so I ended up making my own. I did a bunch of Google image searches for butterflies and settled on four different “styles,” which I then drew up in Adobe Illustrator, printed out onto a standard piece of 8.5″ by 11″ paper, and cut out to trace onto the heavier colored sheets.

Cut Out Paper Butterflies

Butterfly shapes cut out of the printed paper template.

If anyone is interested, my printable PDF butterfly template is available for download here. If you end up using it for a project, feel free to drop me a comment or an email — I’d love to see how it turns out!

Anyway, cutting out the 20 individual paper butterflies was hands-down the most time-consuming part of this project, which I ended up tackling leisurely during a couple of TV-watching sessions while Lillian was in bed. Once cut out, I folded the butterflies slightly at the base of the wings, avoiding making hard creases in the paper, and then poked a hole in the center to thread the string through.

A closeup of the butterflies.

The pearly-looking craft beads served to stabilize the paper butterflies, and were threaded above and below each butterfly and secured with knots. These were probably optional as well, but they seemed like a nice touch to add some shininess and weight to the mobile. The end result is that the butterflies spin and drift gently in the air currents of the room, and even when we have the fan on, they don’t seem to get overwhelmed, tangled, or generally blown away by the breeze.

DIY Butterfly Nursery Mobile

The finished butterfly mobile.

Between the strings and the beads, not to mention the paper cut fodder and possible wooden sliver hazard, I probably don’t have to mention that this mobile is intended for decorative purposes only, and isn’t meant to be touched or played with like some of the plush or plastic ones you might find in a baby supply store. Ours is currently hung high enough that Lillian shouldn’t be able to reach it even standing, but if it ever seems like she’s coming close, it’ll have to get relocated to another area of the room.

Anyway, as I usually do with any kind of crafty project, I’ve already thought up a list of ideas for possible improvements:

  • Using smaller butterflies and/or more of them
  • Using patterned paper for the butterflies instead of solid colors
  • Painting the wooden frame of the mobile — either white or another color to complement the colors of the butterflies
  • Making the frame larger to allow for a wider spread of butterflies

And that’s the long-overdue butterfly mobile post. What do you think? Have you seen any nifty DIY nursery mobile projects on Pinterest or elsewhere lately? Or maybe even made one of your own? Feel free to share your thoughts or links in the comments!

4 Comments

  1. Oh wow! I love it! You are so creative. It’s beautiful and looks absolutely perfect in Lillian’s room. I’ve never really been that creative in this area, but I’m definitely interested in hearing about things that your mom-in-law and Ms. Lyle may have done. :)

  2. That’s gorgeous! You have given her just enough color and variety to keep her entertained without overwhelming her. And think how excited she will be to see real butterflies – her “familiar friends” come to life in the yard!

  3. Love the butterflies! And that you made it yourself! I mostly made baby clothes way back in the day! I did make crib bumper pads for Dave and Leanne, made a large wall hanging for Joe (bigger than life Peter Rabbit, complete with picket fence and cardinal). Didn’t knit much back then, but I do that a lot now.

    Best thing about hand crafting is that there’s love in every stitch, clip, and paste.

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