DIY Better-Than-Paint-Chip Mobile

Pinterest addict that I’ve become, I’ve been admiring the gorgeous DIY “paint chip mobiles” that pop up, so I decided I would give this project a try. It seemed pretty straightforward and didn’t require too many pricey materials—just my kind of thing right now. But it was darn near impossible to find a thorough tutorial for one of these mobiles, so I’ve given it my best here :)

Once I started to figure out what I’d need to replicate the most beautiful of the examples I’d seen, I knew paint chips were out of the question. You can do the math and see that you need hundreds of these little circles to make a nice, big mobile, and while it might be cool to save money on paper, I didn’t think I could count on my local hardware store to supply me with that many paint chips! Plus, I wanted my circles to be substantial—bigger than those I could cut out of most paint chips I’ve seen.

While perusing Michaels for supplies, I found their Recollections cardstock sets: 50 sheets of colored paper in expertly paired shades (I chose “Soda Pop”) for just $3.99. These are perfect for this project! Plus, the sets were buy one get one free that week. This way, I could cut circles till my heart’s content.

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Here’s what else I used:

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With my trusty circle punch in hand, I was able to cut 20 circles from each sheet, and I used four sheets of each color (so 80 circles of each color—that’s 400 circles!! Can you see why I didn’t want to cut them by hand?).

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Next, I speared each circle using my pin cushion and roughly eye-balling the center. It’s totally fine if you don’t actually poke a hole through the true center because that just makes the circle hang a little off-kilter, which is really the desired effect.

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With a piece of thread the full length of my arm (doubled back on itself), I began to thread the circles. I would use 3 of each color, adding colors in the order shown on the paper’s packaging, which I liked. For a few of the strands, I varied the length, adding or subtracting a circle, so the bottom of the mobile wouldn’t look boxy and uniform.

Once I had threaded a circle, I would tilt it to hold it flush against the thread and use the outer edge of that circle as my guide for where to make the knot that would eventually hold the next circle. I wrapped the thread around my finger and looped the needle through 2 times, in order to make a slightly bulkier knot.

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No fancy manicure for this mama, but I knew you wouldn’t mind :)

At the end of each strand, I left myself a good 8″ of thread that I later used to tie the strands to the embroidery hoops.

The finished result looks like this. Pretty, right? I calculated that, once I had the process down, it took me about 6 minutes to make each strand. I ended up making 15 strands for the larger hoop and 10 strands for the smaller one.

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Once I finished making all the strands, I prepared the embroidery hoops. In case you’re not familiar with them, they’re sold as a set of two that fit one inside the other, and the outer hoop has hardware on it that’s useless for our purposes. I discarded each outer hoop and worked with the inner hoops that are hardware-free.

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I decided to wind yarn in a coordinating color around the hoops, first because I thought it would look cuter than just plain wood, and also because I could tuck the white thread of each strand into the yarn to keep it from sliding around.

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See how the thread kind of gets tucked inside the loops of yarn?

Trying to space the strands just close enough for all the circles to rotate freely on neighboring strands, I tied them onto the hoops using a square knot. I found this was easiest to do with the hoop resting on a table, since it’s impossible to hold up the hoop and tie your thread off at the same time.

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Once both hoops were full, I tucked one inside the other, on the table, and began securing them to each other using 4 pieces of coordinating yarn. I wanted the inner hoop to hang a few inches lower than the larger one, so I adjusted the length of the yarn accordingly.

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The last thing left to do was to create a way to hang the mobile. Once again, I used one super long piece of yarn that I attached to three spots on the larger hoop and a key ring above it. Here’s how:

      1. I tied one end of the yarn to the outer hoop and fed it up through the key ring (I left plenty of length between these two points because we have high ceilings in our house and I want the mobile to dangle down close to Baby J’s crib).
      2. Then, I brought the yarn back down to another spot on the hoop about 1/3 of the way (120 degrees) around the circle from the first point, tying it off there.
      3. Next, I fed the yarn back up to the key ring to go on to the third and final point on the circle, where I tied the yarn around the hoop again.
      4. The yarn went back up to the key ring once more and down to the original point where I secured it and cut off any remaining yarn. Using this system to secure the mobile to the key ring allows you to adjust its angle so you don’t have to stress about it being perfectly level (or is that just something that would bother me?!).

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The final result is gorgeous, if I do say so myself! This project was a lot more work than I anticipated (aren’t they all??), but I’m so pleased with the result that it was totally worth it!

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What do you think? Would you give this project a try?

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