Friday, February 28, 2014

Nerd Nursery (Part 1)

Over the last several months, I've been asked this question a lot: "So, do you have a theme for your nursery?"

Me: "Um, a theme?"
Them: "Yes, how are you going to decorate it?"
Me: "Well, we are going to paint the room a different color, but I don't know what color yet."
Them: "And the theme?"
Me:  Blank stare with wide eyes.

My first two children didn't have a dedicated nursery. They had whatever corner of my bedroom we could fit a pack-n-play or crib. We just didn't have a whole room those tiny little humans could call their very own... and really, do tiny little humans need an entire room?  Do they even care? Are they even aware of the color-coordinated sheets and meticulously matching, themed decor?

I'm thinking the answer is no.  Nurseries are for the parents and families. Babies couldn't care less, as long as they have a safe environment to sleep, eat, be changed, and loved. But you know what? Now that we actually have enough rooms, Baby #3 is going to get his own room.  Because hey, nurseries are for the parents!  And I want one this time around! A true, bonafide nursery. I feel so chic.

But I also want it to be versatile enough that he can grow into it, or it can easily be turned into a different room without a lot of work--a guest room, an office, etc. It's more affordable to think long term and be practical in our paint and decorating scheme. (More on that in a future post!)

But a theme?  Well, I've been clueless until recently.  We batted around a few ideas. We're a nerdy, geeky family, so naturally, suggestions such as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Minecraft came up. While searching for Star Trek baby decor, I found this adorable print on Etsy by barkingbirdart:

I loved it and decided to make it the inspiration for the theme. I also discovered this fun wall art project on Pinterest by vanillajoy and decided to attempt that to go along with the print:

And finally, the room wouldn't be complete without a Star Trek emblem. I decided to brush up on my very rusty cross stitch skills and attempt this pattern from starrley on DeviantArt, since she gives viewers permission to use it:
So the first part was easy--order the print. I received it this week and am simply delighted with it!
barkingbirdart star trek nursery print
Beautiful barkingbirdart print; just needs matted and framed.
The second part was a bit more involved--buy different size embroidery hoops, embroidery fabric and floss, and various colors of fabric. I was able to find some fabric on sale at Hobby Lobby, and since I didn't need much, I looked in the clearance scraps and the quilting pieces instead of buying yards off a bolt. I did buy one yard of a navy blue with silver stars print, because it would make the perfect background, and I could imagine a few other uses for it.

Supplies I purchased:
4 embroidery hoops (12", 8", and two 6" hoops)
Embroidery fabric  (Aida fabric, 14-count, but use whatever size you are comfortable with)
Embroidery floss in black, dark silver, light silver, dark yellow, light yellow shades
Clearance and quilting pieces of small fabric

Supplies I had on hand:
Matte Mod Podge
Sponge brush
Wax paper
Embroidery needle
Felt in several colors
Extra fabric and notions from a pair of my daughter's old stretchy pants (more on that later!)
Craft glue

I decided to go with four sizes of hoops- 12-inch, 8-inch, and two 6-inch hoops.  I knew I wanted a rocket, a planet, the Star Trek emblem, and then something else I would decide on as I went along. For the rocket, I googled "rocket template" and discovered this handy template from lil blue boo

Because I really dislike sewing and hate finishing edges, I decided to try mod podging my cotton fabric to prevent the edges from raveling. I cut out the pieces first using the template, then I placed them right-side down on waxed paper. I put a thick layer of Matte Mod Podge on the back and let them dry. I trimmed off the excess dried Mod Podge around the edges.  Not perfect, but it would work for my purposes!  I didn't Mod Podge the felt, because felt will not unravel on the edges, and I didn't want it to be hard as a rock.
Mod Podge fabric to finish edges
Mod Podge the back of the fabric to stiffen and finish the edges.
I stretched the navy with silver stars fabric on my embroidery hoop tightly, leaving the excess for now. I lay out my rocket pieces on my fabric and tacked them down with small stitches using the embroidery floss that matched the best. I didn't end up using all the pieces of the template, and I added my own red felt "flames." Then I cut out small circles from Mod Podged orange fabric and made "stars" by stitching several lines from the middle of the circle outward. I then cut the excess fabric off around the hoop.  I decided not to glue the fabric down to the hoop, because it seems to stay in place without it, and I want to be able to easily use these hoops again without prying off glue.
Rocket Ship Embroidery Hoop Art
I followed the same techniques for my planet. I traced a circle on the felt to help me cut out a nice planet, then I eyeballed the rings. (You can find planet templates to use, but it was easier for me to just wing it!)
Planet Embroidery Hoop Art
And then I cross stitched my Star Trek emblem. There are lots of good beginning tutorials and videos on cross stitching online if you want to learn how to do it--if you can count and make an "X" with a needle and thread, you can cross stitch!  Of course, I managed to mess up the top of the pattern by putting a gray X in the wrong place, so I had to adjust the rest of the pattern to fix my mistake. I then brought the bottom right point down further because I thought it looked a little lopsided after my correction. Turned out okay, though!
Star Trek Embroidery Hoop Art
Star Trek embroidery with a few fixes; silver gems from my daughter's stretchy pants!
Side Project- Super easy and free embroidery floss storage!
I have tried leaving embroidery floss in the loops with paper, and inevitably it ends up being a knotted, disorganized mess. I saw embroidery floss bobbins at the store, but I didn't want to spend any extra money. So I made my own at home using an old cardboard box. Cut the cardboard into an "I" shape, then cut two slits into one end to hold the beginning and end of the thread.  Wind the thread around the middle of the "I," and there you go! It doesn't have to be perfect to be functional, and it's free!


For my last hoop, I decided to go with some stars. About this time, my daughter accidentally ripped a large hole in the knee of her favorite stretchy pants. They are a denim-like material with silver jewels on the bottom. I couldn't patch them or fix them without stretching the whole leg out of shape, and they had seen better days anyway, so I re-purposed them for my project.
Repurposed clothing, upcycle for art

Repurposed clothing, upcycle for art
I cut around the jewels and glued them onto the embroidery hoop art with craft glue.
I cut out part of the leg to be the base fabric, glued felt stars that I cut out by eyeballing it, and then cut out of the jewels and glued them to 3 of the hoops with craft glue to be extra "stars" and tie the look altogether.
Upcycled clothing, star embroidery art hoop
Hoop made from upcycled stretchy pants and felt.
All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!

You don't have to be decorating a nursery to use embroidery hoop art. You can make all sorts of patterns, shapes, and designs using clearance fabric, recycled clothing, buttons, gems, thread, and so forth. I've seen pictures of entire walls covered with different sizes of hoops covered in different fabrics with nothing else on them. It's a relatively inexpensive way to decorate, and it's easy to change it out to something different. You don't have to be a great seamstress--glue will do!

There will be more nerd decorating before this thing is done, so stay tuned...

Live long and prosper,
Mulligan Mama

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