Most nursery decor is as soft as your baby, so consider fabric art to decorate the walls. Hunt for fabric remnants to match your paint color choices. Get inspired by a favorite board book and copy the shapes to material that goes on the wall. Leave a fabric message that moves gently when you turn on the ceiling fan, or frame textile scraps collected in your travels for a bit of exotic flavor on the walls.
1. Hoop Dreams
It's almost too easy to put together an appealing wall display for over the crib with a few embroidery hoops, heavy cardboard or balsa wood letters, and swatches of pretty fabric, leftover from curtains and quilts or gathered as fabric remnants. Decoupage fabric to letters that spell out your baby's name and center it on the wall over the crib. Select different fabric scraps to stretch over the embroidery hoops -- use random-size hoops for more variety -- and position them like bright bubbles around the fabric-covered name. Change the fabric in the hoops when you redecorate as your baby becomes a toddler. Alternatively, paint the individual letters rather than decoupage them for a contrast in textures.
2. Cut-and-Paste Zoo
No need to paint elaborate murals on the nursery walls -- just raid your box of sewing scraps and unleash an animal parade. Copy or trace large silhouettes of animals on varied lengths of fabric. Lightweight cotton is easiest to work with and to remove when it's time to change the decor. Try a gray plaid elephant, a hot-pink-and-green flowered monkey, a blue owl with huge mango-yellow eyes. Paint a tree on the wall and leave branches bare for fabric leaves and birds. Cut out animal and leaf shapes with sharp fabric scissors or pinking shears. Make a thin paste of cornstarch and water or use aerosol starch spray, saturate the shapes and stick them to the wall, smoothing out air bubbles with a foam brush. Let the fabric dry and enjoy the peel-off nursery zoo story.
3. Baby Doll Quilt
Collect small doll clothes for a wall-hung, pint-sized fashion show in the nursery. Sew your own heirloom crib quilt or hand the task over to a talented grandma or doting aunt. Cut the fronts of the doll clothes away from the backs so they are one layer of fabric and not too bulky. Applique the doll clothes in quilt squares for a one-of-a-kind soft sculpture to hang on the wall over the crib. You can use outfit fronts in some squares and backs in others, or make the quilt with a different outfit in each square to display a boutique-full of tiny couture for your future fashionista.
4. Flags and Frames
Celebrate your exuberant child with a parade of high-energy colors and fabrics that flutter in the breeze. Cut elongated diamonds from multicolored and patterned materials, applique a letter of a message or the baby's name to half of each diamond, fold the fabric over a ribbon or cord, then stitch halves together. The pennants make a long banner that stretches over a changing table or along a wall. A cheerful message such as "Sweet Dreams" adds a lively note to the nursery. Create an instant gallery of framed art with a row of unusual fabric swatches, pasted to cardboard backing and displayed in identical frames. Chosen fabrics might be nostalgic scraps of family mementos -- a piece of Dad's first coveralls, a bit of sailboat curtain from your childhood lake house -- or the "Pow! Zap! Bang!" of a favorite comic-book character captured on cotton.
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