Life's a Circus Mobile
Decorate a nursery by dangling fun felt balls and elephants with polka dot ears beneath a big top.
Designed by Kim Kruzich of Retro Mama
12x18" blue wool-blend felt (hoop)
9x12" wool-blend felt in teal, yellow, gold, orange, white, gray, and pink (elephants, balls, bunting)
Scraps of assorted 100% cotton polka dots in assorted colors to match (elephant ears)
Lightweight iron-on fusible web (such as Steam A Seam)
Heavyweight thread (such as hand-quilting thread)
Embroidery floss: black and orange
2-34"-long pieces of yarn
Narrow masking tape
9"-diameter, 5⁄8"-wide wood embroidery hoop (you'll only use the inner hoop)
4-2 cm felt balls in assorted matching colors (available at crafts store)
Flexible tape measure
Finished mobile: 9" diameter
Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 36" of usable wool-blend felt fabric width.
Editor's note: Circus mobile is for decoration only. It is not a toy and should be kept out of reach of young children and infants because it contains small parts.
Cut pieces in the following order. Click on "Download this Project" above for pattern pieces.
Wool blend doesn't fray, so there is no need to turn under the edges of the ornaments.
To use iron-on fusible web for ornaments, complete the following steps.
1. Lay fusible web, paper side up, over patterns. Use a pencil to trace each pattern the number of times indicated in cutting instructions, leaving 1⁄2" between tracings. Cut out each fusible-web shape roughly 1⁄4" outside traced line.
2. Following manufacturer's instructions, press fusible-web shapes onto wrong sides of wool-blend felt; let cool. Cut out fabric shapes on drawn lines. Peel off paper backings.
From polka dot scraps, cut:
8-Pattern B (4 sets of 2 matching pieces)
From assorted felts, cut:
2 each of patterns A, C, D, E, and F (elephant)
4 each of patterns G, H, I (two matching sets of two colors each) (balls)
24 of Pattern J (bunting)
1 of Pattern K (flag)
From blue felt, cut:
8-1-1⁄8×18" strips (hoop)
1. Referring to photo on download, arrange matching B ear pieces atop C ear pieces. Following manufacturer's instructions and using a press cloth between felt and iron, fuse shapes in place with hot iron. Zigzag-stitch around curved edge of each B piece.
2. Place two A body pieces that match Step 1 C ears on table with trunks facing (so they are mirror images). Place matching D saddle pieces in position on each A body. Using matching thread, edgestitch saddles in place along curved lower edge only (Diagram 1). Do not sew top curve of saddle.
3. With matching threads, edgestitch an E star piece onto far side of saddle (away from head) and an F cheek piece near trunk. Repeat for opposite side.
4. Place fused ear on elephant and attach by zigzag-stitching only the straight edge to create a dimensional ear. Hand-sew a French knot for elephant eye. Repeat for opposite side (French Knot Diagram).
5. With wrong sides together, pin elephant bodies together, then sew around 1⁄8" from outer edge with contrasting thread, leaving a 1" opening. Note: Designer Kim Kruzich used triple-stitch function on her machine to highlight stitching.
Tip: Many sewing machines have a triple-stitch function; it may be marked with three dashed lines on the machine. Check manual to find out if machine has this stitch.
6. Stuff elephant lightly with fiberfill through opening. Use a chopstick to help push stuffing into narrow trunk and leg areas. Stitch opening closed in the same manner as before to make an elephant.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 to make four elephants total.
Assemble Balancing Balls
1. Referring to photo on download for color placement, place H stripes piece atop G ball piece. Using matching thread, edgestitch H piece in place. Position matching I tip piece over center intersection of H stripes piece and edgestitch in place. Trim any excess felt overhanging edges to make one ball body. Repeat to make a second matching ball body.
2. With wrong sides together, pin balancing balls; then sew around 1⁄8" from outer edge, leaving a 1" opening. Stuff ball lightly with fiberfill. Stitch opening closed to make one balancing ball.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make a second balancing ball.
Assemble Bunting Strips
1. Align short edges of six assorted J bunting pieces. Leaving needle and bobbin threads at least 10" long, sew across short edges of triangles, very close to edge, allowing needle to sew a couple of stitches between each triangle to make a bunting strip (Diagram 2). Leave needle and bobbin threads 10" long before cutting bunting strip from machine. Repeat to make four bunting strips total.
1. Using a flexible tape measure and a pencil, measure and mark four lines on top edge of embroidery hoop (inner hoop only), evenly spaced around hoop. Then mark four dots, evenly spaced between drawn lines (Diagram 3).
2. Wrap one end of a 34"-long piece of yarn around hoop on one marked line, secure in place with masking tape on inside and outside of hoop (Diagram 4). Wrap other end of yarn on marked line on opposite side and tape in place as before. Repeat with remaining piece of yarn, securing it at remaining two marked lines. Tip: Make sure no masking tape extends beyond top or bottom of hoop so you don't have to pass needle through when sewing around hoop.
3. Place hoop on a flat surface, hold two pieces of yard centered and taut above hoop, and tie a knot 6" from top. Fold K flag piece in half around yarn above knot and edgestitch along raw edges (Diagram 4). Tie a second knot just above flag.
4. Hang embroidery hoop from top yarn loops. Referring to photo for placement and using an 18"-long piece of heavyweight thread and a hand-sewing needle, stitch an elephant and a balancing ball onto string. Upper and lower part of string should attach to elephant at hanger positions marked with X on pattern piece. Repeat to make a second string with an elephant and balancing ball. Repeat using remaining elephants and felt balls, instead of balancing balls, to make two more strings, each with an elephant and two felt balls. Make sure strings are evenly weighted. For maximum visibility, position elephants at different heights (in photo, elephants are 4", 5", 7", and 8" below hoop).
5. Tie four stings of elephants at marked dots (in photo, strings are 12" and 14" long below hoop); secure with tape, making sure hoop is balanced so it hangs straight.
6. Attach four bunting strings so they drape between strings of elephants with flags on each end approximately 1/4" below hoop, tying them at same points as elephants, and secure with masking tape.
7. Using matching thread, abut short ends of two 11⁄8x18" strips and sew together with a zigzag stitch to make one long strip that lies flat (Diagram 5). Wrap felt strip around outside of hoop and trim to size, again abutting raw ends. Remove remaining felt and zigzag short ends together to make a loop. Repeat with remaining two felt strips, measuring inside of hoop instead, to make a second loop.
8. Place felt loops on inside and outside of hoop. Using a running stitch (Running Stitch Diagram), hand-stitch together with five strands of orange embroidery floss around top and bottom of hoop, 1⁄8" from edges of loop, to complete mobile.
Tip: If you accidentally pull or cut one elephant string off, just sew it back in place to the felt on the inside of the hoop.