Thursday, October 27, 2011

a school of fish

One of my favorite ex-coworkers has a baby coming in mid-November.  She decided to do things the old fashioned way and be surprised by the gender on the little one's birthday.  That means I needed a baby-gender-neutral craft project to mark the occasion.  After trolling her registry, I found that her nursery theme is animals, specifically fish and turtles. Conveniently enough, I didn't see a mobile on the list.  Bingo!

School of Fish Baby Mobile Tutorial

Fabric scraps
Felt scraps
Cardboard or paper
2 embroidery hoops of different sizes
Embroidery floss
Sewing machine (or infinite patience)
Scissors/rotary fabric cutter

1) Nest the embroidery hoops together and lash them together with embroidery floss.  Knot tightly and tidy loose ends by securing with hot glue.
2) For the plushie fish, make pattern pieces for your fabric.  I wish I could give you a template but I'm not gifted enough with computer sketching programs to make one.  You can see the pieces that I used throughout the tutorial.  I used fabric for the body of the fish and felt for all of the fins.  In general, you'll need to: 
     - Cut two each per fish: top half of the fish, bottom half of the fish and side fin 
     - Cut one each per fish: top fin and tail fin.  
3) Start by matching up the top and bottom halves of the fish and laying out the side fins like so.

4) Make little fish sandwiches by matching the the curved sides up like the photo below with the side fins still in between the two pieces of fabric.  Sew along the flat bottom side of each sandwich about 1/4" from the edge.

5)  After sewing that edge, open them up.  They should look like this.

6) Take one sewed side and lay it flat with the fin side up (that's the outside of the fish).  Place the top fin upside down at the top of the fish.  Fold the tail fin in thirds, pin, and place at the back of the fish.

7) Take the other side of the fish and lay it on top of the laid-out fish half.  Make sure that the side fins are both pointing towards the back fin.  Unpin the back fin.  The weight of the top piece of fabric should be enough to hold it in place.  

8) Starting at the base of the tail area, sew 1/4" from the edge going counterclockwise around the fish.  Stop when you get to where the pin is in the previous photo. 

9) Trim excess edges and flip inside out.  I used a bodkin to do so because the fish are pretty small.  If I've explained things right, then you should have this once you've turned it right side out.  

10) Stuff the fish and sew up the opening.  I folded the raw edges in and closed it up with an overcast stitch because a) my attempts at an invisible stitch on something so tiny failed and b) I don't mind the homemade look.

11) Thread a piece of embroidery floss through the top of each fish right under the top fin.  Double-knot one end of the floss and tie the other end to varying points of the embroidery hoops.  

Then just repeat about eight more times.  That's all.  You'll be so sick of fish, you'll be avoiding the seafood counter at the market for weeks.  But aren't cute things for babies always worth it?


  1. This is so adorable! I totally want to make one :)

  2. So cute Karen, I love how you painstakingly added all the fins!