Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hot Air Balloon Mobile

I have been very busy with only 43 days left to the arrival of our little girl and summer vacation finally here.  Nesting is kicking in full blast!  Never in a million years would I have thought, however, that nesting would take the form that it has lately.

I found an amazing idea for a hot air balloon mobile on Etsy but baulked at the idea of spending $70 for something that could obviously be handmade.  I did some research through Pinterest and found a DIY blog with the perfect template:  Joy did a wonderful job making her template and describing the overall process but I had to do a lot of research through YouTube videos to find exactly how to make this, that's why I'm posting it all here.  I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that it was easy, or all that cheap, but it sure was fulfilling to make on my own!

These are the supplies that I bought at JoAnn's for a little under $50.  I had to buy everything since I've never sewn before but I'm sure your total would be a lot less if you have any of these already on hand.  Please disregard the smaller embroidery hoop, I didn't end up using it for this craft.

I downloaded the template from the HowJoyfull website, click on this template PDF to download directly.

I decided to use the size 2 and 3 outlines only.  I figured out what color combinations I wanted to use and cut them out by placing the templates over the felt, using the rotary cutting set to cut.

Chevron patterns play a big part in the nursery so I decided to tackle the most complicated balloon first.  I figured out how far away I wanted my cuts to be and used the angle lines on my cutting board to trace them out on my template.
 Next, I placed the template paper over a felt piece and poked a hole through the point in the chevron pattern with a pen to make a small dot.
I used this dot as a place to mark where to stop cutting.  Those lines on the cutting board were a life saver!  The cutting was a tedious part but do not skip corners and cut more than one piece at a time, that will only result in wonky cuts that are uneven.
Once the cutting was complete, I lined them all up in order.  Lookin' good already!
After researching how to sew two pieces of felt together, I decided to use a blanket stitch.  I used this video to teach myself, I love that there's no annoying lady describing every detail.  Watch and learn!
I did my blanket stitch on a flat surface to that the balloon will take shape properly.  By the way, this is the side that will show on the balloon, I made sure no marks were visible.
Continue the same blanket stitch through all of the pieces, connecting them all together.  The connecting stitches get tricky but just remember that if they are not that tight you can always fix it when you stitch them together vertically.
Tie off the top stitches and then start the same process all over again with the bottom pieces of the balloon.  It's getting easier!
I forgot to take a picture of the next step but switch out your embroidery thread and needle for a general use needle and thread.  I used plain white thread and a blanket stitch to connect the pieces vertically from top to bottom from the inside.  Be sure to carefully attached the pieces at the tops, you will end up with a bunch of knots but it's important that they are secured.

Go ahead, take a look at what a cute balloon this will be.  It's worth all of this effort!
I slipped a long piece of embroidery thread with a knot at the end through a small piece of felt and led the thread through the top of my balloon.  This will be used to hang the balloons.  You could also use fishing line if you'd rather the invisible floating look.
Then, I stitched up the last piece to about half way and flipped the balloon right side out.  I used fluff from an old pillow to gently stuff the balloon to my liking and then stitched it closed.
I held the small circle, which I cut using the appropriate template, and used a blanket stitch to attach it to the bottom of my balloon.
To attach the 'basket', I tied a knot in a piece of embroidery floss and lead it through the bottom of the balloon, starting at the middle and coming out one side at 12 o'clock.  LEAVE A TAIL ON THE THREAD!  I didn't and it ended up being more difficult to tie at the end.
Cut one of the craft corks in half, this is the perfect size.  I then pushed the needle through the cork and pulled it through with pliers.  
I led the thread through at 6 o'clock on the bottom of the balloon and out again at 9 o'clock.  I repeated the process through the cork again at a perpendicular angle.  I finished back through the balloon at 3 o'clock, back out through the center and then tied the pieces together.

Voila, a finished balloon!
By the time I made a few balloons, I started getting really good at the flat blanket stitch.  It's hard to describe but I started pulling this part tight by hand instead of straight from the needle....
.... then this thread.  This prevented the thread from pulling the felt out of whack and resulted in a more even stitch.
I used a hot glue gun to attach this fun little pom pom ribbon. 
I made clouds by freehand cutting and using gray embroidery floss to blanket stitch on the outside.  It's still hanging from my ceiling fan as we are not set on the location of the crib but it is something I am really proud of.  I will be sure to post pictures of the finished nursery soon!
I used the small embroidery hoop and leftover pieces of felt to make this little name plate.  A running stitch attached the pennant and I used a backstitch to embroider our little girl's name.  Love!
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  1. Oh my goodness, I am so far behind on your blog, I didn't realize you were pregnant-- congrats!!! A little girl too, how sweet :)

    Love love LOOOOVE the mobile. I am pinning this for (if and) when we have a second child. I have a picture of Curious George in a hot air balloon that I want to have blown up, and this mobile would be perfect.

    Congrats again!


  2. Thanks Lizzie! I hope that you do make this mobile for your next baby. Who knows, maybe Hunter would even like a variation of this craft in his room.

    Best wishes for you and your adorable family!


  3. Thanks for describing in detail how to get the needle through the cork! I've had Joy's template for years but wasn't having any luck attaching the cork. Will give it a go now!


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