I've never been good at spotting constellations in the sky. I've always wanted to be because there's something endlessly appealing about laying back and seeing all those pictures in the sky. Maybe I'll try again this summer once it's warm enough to sit outside at night for long periods!
I created this project to learn about and celebrate the beauty of the constellations. It's perfect for elementary-aged kids, tweens, teens, or even adults. Even if you've never picked up a needle, you should be able to create these fun constellation wall hangings.
Dark blue (or black) felt
White embroidery thread
Ribbon (for hanging)
Before beginning this project, you need to decide which constellations you want to create. I used this constellation guide at StarDate.org. You can also find printable constellation maps at Mr. Printable. I chose a few to create (Canis Major and Cygnus) and drew them on paper.
Cut your felt into small rectangles. I had sheets of craft felt and cut it into quarters. This left me with 4-3/4 inches by 6 inches per rectangle You will need two rectangles per wall hanging. Next, transfer your constellation drawing to your felt. This step doesn't need to be difficult. I used one of our washable markers and lightly made dots on my felt for each star. If you keep your markings small, your stitches will cover it.
Start stitching your stars. Embroidery thread is thick with six strands of thread combined. Cut off a length of thread and then pull the strands apart, so that you are stitching with three strands instead of six. For each star, I stitched an x over top of a +. Some stars were bigger than others according to how the constellation was pictured. Then, I stitched long lines in between each star, using my drawing as a guide.
Once you've sewn your constellation, you'll want to label it. I tried two different methods. For my first constellation (Cygnus), I chose to stitch the name with my embroidery thread. Honestly, this method was a bit difficult and you wouldn't want to try it if you are a beginning sewer. The second method was to attach a label. For Canis Major, I used a scrap piece of fabric and wrote the name with permanent marker (a Sharpie). I cut it down to fit on my picture and simply stitched it into the corner. I prefer this method because it was easier and I thought it looked much better than the stitched name.
After you are finished and satisfied with your constellation, it's time to cover up that ugly back. No matter how good of a seamstress you are, the back never looks good. I used another rectangle of felt, cut the same size as my wall hanging, to cover the back.
Instead of sewing my back on, I used Tacky Glue. (This stuff is amazing and will hold the felt together. I'm not sure if any other brands of glue would work as well.) If you prefer, you can sew the front to the back using thread that matches the color of the felt.
If using the glue, run a line all around the edge. Cut a piece of ribbon for hanging and stick it down on the glue (see picture below) before attaching the back. If you let your glue dry completely before hanging, your ribbon will stay put.
Once your glue has dried, hang your creations on the wall. Make a few or a lot. I think it would be stunning to make a small gallery of your favorite constellations.
For more information about the constellations:
- Play the Constellation Hunt game at Astronomy for Kids. This game challenges you to spot the different constellations in the night sky.
- Read the book, A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky by Michael Driscoll. This book covers everything and is perfect for a kid who is fascinated by the night sky.
- Print and make a star finder at Nasa.gov. You can also find kid-friendly information about finding these constellations in the sky.