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A Baby Shower Gift for Mom: Encouragement Wall Hanging

My favorite part of a baby shower – ok, besides the cake – is the element of female bonding. The mother-to-be is about to go through a major life transition and go from woman to mother. How crazy is that? When women get together for a baby shower, it feels as if we’re expressing excitement for her and that we’re in her corner. It feels like we’re saying, Hey, look at your tribe. We’re all here for you. We know you will thrive in motherhood and we can’t wait to see you do it.

I think it’s truly wonderful that baby gets so many gifts at showers. First of all, mom needs them! Secondly, I will probably never (ever) tire of looking at baby girl dresses and baby boy bow ties. I mean, come on.

BUT – what about mom?

Yes, mom could use a spa kit and gift card to Motherhood Maternity. But, what mom will really need in those tender first months of motherhood is encouragement. She will be tried, pressed, and pushed to her limits. She’ll question whether or not she’s doing it right. She’ll be sure she’s a screw up. She’ll be sleep deprived. And maybe ill-nourished and dehydrated. She’ll feel loneliness, inadequacy, confusion, and unexplained sadness.

It would be perfect if – poof! – by pixie dust we could all transfer into her messy living room at 2:47 am when she needs some uplifting. We could tell her that she’s doing great and she only needs to hang on. We could affirm her and relieve her and make her a snack. Unfortunately, pixie dust only exists in Disneyland.

But, there are some ways we can try. All you need is a gentle reminder for her to keep in her home. Enter encouraging wall hanging!

This is an easy project a hostess can make beforehand. There are no special crafting skills required and it includes a small shopping list. At the shower, ask guests to sign encouraging remarks and quirky mantras with fabric pens. When mom runs into those trying moments after birth, she can look at this wall hanging with all the things her friends wrote for her and (hopefully) feel the encouragement you all gave her! It works better than pixie dust, too, because if mom summoned all her friends at 2:47 am I don’t think encouragement would be the first thing out of their mouths.

What you’ll need:

A large dowel. Mine is 36” long with a ¾” diameter.

1 ½ to 2 yards light-colored fabric of your choice. I meandered Joann until I found something durable and non-stretchy. Outdoor or décor fabric would work well.

Rope or string for hanging. It should be twice the length of your dowel.

Ribbon or yarn. It should be 2-3 times the length of your dowel.

Yard stick

Fabric scissors

Chalk or other fabric pen that fades

4-6 grommets. I bought a ½” grommet kit from Joann.

Hammer (to install grommets)

Foam paint brushes

Any permanent fabric paint. I used acrylic paint in ivory black.

Stencils! Again, I wandered Joann until I found a font I liked!

Painters tape (not shown)

Steps:
  • First, I had my husband drill holes in each end of my dowels, ½” in from the ends. Just make sure the holes are big enough to accommodate your hanging rope or string.
  • Decide the width of your fabric. Since my dowel was 36”, I decided on a width of 31”.
  • Fold your fabric in half length-wise (so it’s long and skinny) and cut along a line half your desired width from the fold. For example, since my desired width was 31”, I cut at 15 ½”. When you unfold your fabric, it will be your desired width. I used my yard stick to measure and mark with chalk as I cut up the fabric. Keep the fabric folded for the next step.
  • I love the tapered bottom – it ensured that all the ragged edges of the bottom of my fabric were gone. You don’t need perfect 90° edges. Measure and mark 9” up from the corner (you can mark higher if you want a deeper angle) and using the yard stick as a straight edge, draw a line from the 9” mark to the bottom of the folded edge.
  • Fabric still folded, cut carefully along this line. Make sure you’re cutting both layers of fabric

Open and ta daaaaa!

  • Now it’s time to paint! First, put down some newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to protect your surface. My paint didn’t go through since my fabric was so thick, but better safe than sorry!
  • Do your bottom line first so you can work upwards. Decide what you want your wall hanging to say and go from there! First, measure 2 ½” up from the corner (see below) on both sides.
  • Mark a faint line between the two points in chalk. I also used tape to mark my bottom line.
  • Tape your stencils to the fabric using the bottom line as your guide. I had to do half my word at a time since I needed to use the stencils twice! Paint your letters on with a dabbing motion. Make sure to wash and dry your stencils between use so they don’t mark your fabric in unwanted places.
  • Work your way up the wall hanging, line by line. My lines were 3” apart, bottom to bottom. I simply marked the edge of the fabric 3” up from the previous mark on each edge. Then, I connected and marked the line, just like I did the first time. Place and tape stencils, paint, and make sure you wash and dry in between use.

Tada! Let your paint dry completely before moving on. Overnight is best.

  • Now it’s time to put your fabric on the dowel and make it an actual wall hanging! Fold your fabric at the desired place for the dowel. Remember, you’ll need to leave space for the grommets and a ribbon or yarn. At this point, leave the excess fabric on the back to trim later. The way I wanted my ribbon to weave in and out needed 6 grommets, which I grouped in sets of three on either side. Use chalk to mark where they’ll go.

I first marked the grommets on the end (see below), 1 ¼” in from the edge of the fabric.

Then, I marked the inner grommets at 4 ¾” intervals moving inward from each outer grommet.

Place the markings for these inner grommets and take a step back to see if they look right to you.

  • Time to apply grommets where you marked! Instead of writing out how to install a grommet, I’m going to refer you to this video for guidance. A few notes:
    1. With our wall hanging, you want to make sure the fabric is folded where you’d like it to be and you want to cut through both layers of fabric. We’re not just installing grommets for aesthetics; they’ll hold the two layers of fabric together around the dowel.
    2. I placed a wooden cutting board underneath while I hammered the grommet in. Pounding on a hard surface makes a difference.
    3. I felt my fabric was sturdy enough and didn’t require interfacing. That’s up to you.
    4. Remember to cut small – you can always increase your hole if the grommet doesn’t fit at first.
    5. I had my fabric facing down (paint side down, back side up) while I installed the grommets.
    6. You can use binder clips to secure the folded fabric in place while you mark and cut your holes so it all stays even.

The photo below shows the order of pieces when you’re installing grommets. I placed down my wooden cutting board and on top of that: (1) anvil, (2) top/front piece of grommet, (3) fabric, (4) plastic insert – not all kits will have this optional piece, (5) washer/back piece of grommet, (6) setter (you’ll hammer into this piece to secure the grommet).

Once you feel ready, cut small holes and install the grommets where you marked. Go for it!

  • Now, insert your dowel and trim your fabric on the back side to where you like it. You may also taper the edges in, so you can’t see any back fabric from the front. I liked the shabby look, so I chose not to taper.
  • Thread your rope or string through the holes you drilled at the beginning. Before you knot the end, make sure you adjust it for how you’d like it to hang on the wall.
  • Now it’s time to thread your ribbon or yarn through the grommets. I chose the brown ribbon I had (instead of the pink yarn) since my rope was so colorful. If you know the gender of the baby, it might be nice to incorporate pink or blue, or the color scheme of the nursery. Get creative! Place the ribbon behind the grommets and thread it through as follows:

Towards the front, through the outer grommets (see below). Make sure your ribbon is even at this point.

Towards the back, through the middle grommets (see below).

Towards the front, through the inner grommets (see below).

Tie into a nice bow. Trim the ends where desired.

And there you have it! You made it! Place it out on a table at the baby shower or mother’s blessing and direct guests to sign with words of encouragement for mom.

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