I had a mobile as a child and I still remember it well – I have it packed away somewhere for possible future use. It didn’t consist of brightly coloured animals and plants, oh no, it featured flying clowns. Disturbing flying clowns in beautiful, brightly coloured clown suits with cute little felt hats on wooden heads that occasionally popped off their pipe cleaner necks while they were spinning around. Because that’s not creepy at all…
Fortunately this tutorial is not for a disturbing self-decapitating clown mobile but for a happy, colourful felt mobile made with interesting animals and cute personal touches – like the penguin and glittery fish I’m going to walk you through making today!
For the Penguin and Fish we need the same materials list from part 1 where we looked at making the sun and rainbow that I put at the centre of the mobile – I guess that was my sciencey side coming out (it does that every now and then!), everything must revolve around the sun and of course the rainbow has to be below the sun so the waves of sunlight refracting through rain can cause the rainbow effect that the baby down below the mobile can see. If we’re going to be that pedantic I guess it would also mean that clouds don’t really belong at the bottom of most rainbows but they look cute and as we know, cuteness breaks all the rules – including the laws of science. Who knows, maybe this little boy will turn out to be a meteorologist or an astrophysicist – as I write this he is supposed to arrive any minute, it’s pretty exciting!
But I digress, again…
Here’s how to make the Penguin and fish!
I have a soft spot for aquatic animals – I think it originates from learning to swim in the warm, tropical waters of Fiji as a child, venturing from my mother of father’s back with my mask and snorkel on to admire the jewel-bright fish darting amongst the miraculous tabletops, forests and boulders of coral. Back when trips to our neighbouring pacific island nations was a lot cheaper than a visit to our own Great Barrier Reef during school holidays…
This fish is just a generic fish so not a particular species but if you have one in mind then go for it! To make this fish I used a pretty, glitter covered felt, you can of course add your own glitter after you’ve finished but they had it so I used it – and why not! A bit of glitter makes everything better. I free-drew the fish shape so it’s not precise, but this is how I made it:
- Draw a 3cm x 6cm oval out on a piece of paper
- Taper both ends of the oval to points so it looks like a double pointed leaf shape, still 6cm long.
- If you have trouble drawing the exact shape try drawing a cross 6cm long and 3cm wide in the middle then curve a line down down from the top of the centre line to the end point
- Pick one end to be the mouth – I chose the left side because I’m right handed and find it easier to draw that way – so the fish faces left.
- Before you cut it out, draw a sweeping dorsal fin on top of the oval starting 2cm back from the mouth along the centre line and ending at 4cm (so 2cm from the tail point)
- Cut the fish body piece out around the oval, leaving the fin piece behind
- Trace with tailors chalk on your chosen colour felt and cut 2 of these fish bodies
- Cut a tiny piece (say 1mm) from the tip of the mouth side of each piece to blunt it slightly
- Cut out the dorsal fin template
- You will need to make the dorsal fin piece slightly larger than the one you’ve just drawn so there is enough overlap to attach it to the body – you can do this by creating another fin template on paper or when you trace the piece out in chalk on your chosen felt colour. I would recommend adding at least 0.5cm extra depth to your fin to ensure you have enough room for stitching
- Cut 1 of these in your chosen colour
- To make the pectoral (side) fins the way I have done them draw a triangle 3cm x 2.5cm x 2.5cm
- Round off the smaller point – this will be where it joins the body
- Give the opposite edge an inverse scalloped look – If you have a particular fish species in mind to create you obviously don’t have to make the fins how I have done them, there is a lot of variety to fin shapes out there but I like the scalloped look, they look, to me, like fully extended fins rippling in and out
- Cut 2 pectoral fin pieces in your chosen colour
- For the tail fin draw a triangle 3.5cm x 3cm x 3cm
- Round off the smallest point and Inverse scallop the opposite long edge
- Cut 2 of these in your chosen colour
- Attach a pectoral fin 2cm back from the mouth on the right side of each body piece with matching colour thread – I used matching instead of complimenting thread because the fish is a small piece with a lot going on and I felt that complimenting thread was an unnecessary addition.
- Create an eye on each fish body piece using your chosen thread – I used black
- Attach and sew a tail piece to the right side of each body piece so they match up when you put them together
- Matching up the tail and body pieces with the right sides out, sew the tail pieces together. As I mentioned in part 1 – I used a blanket stitch for most of the edge stitching in this project but you can use any stitch you like or a machine to speed things up a bit.
- Stuff the tail – the more stuffing you put in it the wider it will get so don’t over-stuff it. Alternately you could use only one tail piece and then not have to stuff it – this will depend on whether your felt is the same on both sides – my glitter felt was only glittered on one side.
- Place your dorsal fin between the two body pieces so it sticks out just enough for the shape and size of the fish
- Pin it in place and sew in using thread that matches the body of the fish – I used a chain stitch for this
- Continue to sew the fish body pieces together using matching thread – leave a gap of approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) to give you room to stuff it
- Once you’ve stuffed the fish finish your edge off
- Almost done! Now the fish needs a mouth. I created mine using thread that matched the fins
- Then of course bubbles – cut 3 sizes of bubbles in your chosen colour, 2 pieces of each size so you can sandwich the suspending string between them.
In my opinion everyone should love penguins – they are very special and majestic animals. They fly through the water like other birds fly through the air and each type is quite different to the last. Whether you love the impressive Emperor Penguin the best, adore the Macaroni Penguin’s cool and slightly comical ‘hairdo’ and the Rockhopper Penguins outrageous ‘eyebrows’ or have had your heat stolen by the pocket sized but incredibly vocal Little Penguin (formerly known as the fairy penguin) there is really a penguin to suit any personality. My favourites are the Adelie Penguins – medium sized, black and white and completely adorable. They inhabit coastal Antarctica along with the Emperor penguins and stole my heart when I was a child. I used to have a story book about them and they were the subject of more than one school project. We even have a photo of them hanging in the spare bathroom that was taken by my uncle on an Antarctic working trip back in the day before he went on another adventure and moved to France to marry the girl of his dreams.
This penguin is very stylised so doesn’t really fit with an adult of any penguin species – it’s kind of an adolescent emperor penguin, a la ‘Happy Feet’, or a chinstrap penguin without the chin strap… You may have figured out by now that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and like things to be accurate to life where possible 😉
- You will need 3 different sized circles for this one – 6.5cm diameter (approximately 2.5 inches), 5cm diameter (2 inches) and 3.5cm diameter (1 and 3/8 inches)
- To make the main body template start by tracing 1 of the largest circles
- Align the medium sized circle to the top of the larger circling – overlap the circles by 1.5cm and trace around the second circle – the resulting shape should look a bit like a snowman!
- Free-draw the wings to either side of the body – you can make sure they are the same size by folding the piece in half
- Cut out the body shape, leaving the wings behind on the paper – we’re going to do the same with the wings as we did with the dorsal fin in the fish tutorial so either draw out a new template or when you trace the template on to the felt add a 0.5cm lip to the side of the wings that will attach to the body
- Cut 2 body shapes and 2 wing shapes in your chosen colour felt – I used black
- Free-draw the feet, making sure they have a rounded edge that fits on the body without going over the edges and cut out 2 in your chosen felt colour – I used an orangey-yellow
- While you’ve got that colour out, cut a triangle for the beak
- For the white tummy piece trace a medium circle and overlap it with the smallest size circle – they should overlap by about 0.5cm
- Add the eye highlight area to the tummy piece (I’m sure there’s probably a technical term for it but I have no idea what that is!) by free-drawing a curve on either side of the white head circle starting from 1cm up the side of the circle from the join to the top centre of the white head piece. Its widest point should be 1cm – see the picture below
- Cut 1 of these
- Glue the beak to the lower half of the white face piece and create eyes with black thread
- Attach a tummy piece to one of the body pieces making sure the necks of the two pieces are aligned
- You can glue it in place or stitch if you prefer – I attached mine with a blanket stitch in white around the edge of the tummy piece
- Line up a wing piece on either side of one body piece and pin in place
- Align the two body pieces and pin in place – stitch together starting with one wing and working in the direction of the head
- When you have edge stitched the head and both wings, stuff the head (it’s always easier to stuff the smaller bits as you do them than at the end)
- Continue with your edge stitch until there is a 2 inch gap
- Stuff the body and complete your edge stitch to close
- Position the feet and attach with glue or stitching – I just glued mine
- When I was finished I felt something was missing so gave the penguin a little red scarf – rather lovely don’t you think!
I hope you enjoyed this instalment of the felt mobile tutorial! Next time we will move on to the rainbow lorikeet with her leaves and gum flower. I love the colours in it