See the item at my ETSY shop here!
Post note: having now gone sailing with Mickey twice, I can say that my finished 9 1/2 inch may be a little wide...it still fits, but perhaps try a 6-8 inch finished width to be safe, especially on the larger ships of the Fantasy and Dream.
So we have been planning for the Disney cruise for TWO YEARS, the WHOLE EXTENDED fam, and my hubby finally starts researching and learning the week before. 11 pm, T minus 4 days and he comes in the bedroom as I'm settling in to mention the phrase: "Fish Extender. Just Google it."
I NEED a new project! I ALWAYS need a new project! Why didn't you point this out three weeks ago when I told you how anxious I was about the trip and that I didn't "have much else going on"??? Now I need to make one. Or maybe three.
So I don't really know if I'm part of the 'club'... I didn't get on the Disney World forums and start pre-making cruise friends so that we could exchange "fish extender gifts", but I'm a sucker for a good sewing project.
Apparently a "fish extender" extends the ability of the fish that is hanging outside your cruise room door to hold your itineraries, excursion tickets, and also possibly, gifts from strangers who want to be you or your child's friends. Could be cool! Express myself a little? Sure.
For the purposes of this project, consider it a soft mailbox/wall-hanging. Hmmmm...college dorm room maybe? I'm always inventing new ways of embarrassing my children.
So I Googled some images and came across some patterns, and modified them to make my own. I ended up making three because I wanted my parents to have a little classy mailbox for their door, and my nephews to have one, and of course, my children to have one to check on throughout the week.
When I'm looking for a tutorial, I often wish they just had a cheat sheet up at the top for reference and if I'm in a rush to find a certain measurement or info/materials needed I can race to it. And let's face it, I'm always in a rush. So let's start with:
Quick & Dirty Guide
- 16" x 10" folded in half for each pocket
- add appliques to pockets
- 22" (or shorter) x 10" for front
- 22" (or shorter) x 10" for back
- Fold under bottoms of pockets and sew them on front piece
- Put right sides together of front and back
- Sew 3 sides of front and back pieces together (with pockets); leave top open
- Pull through
- Turn under top hem and fold over back to make dowel loop
- Add strap
Slow & Painful Guide
First let's start with the appliques. Appliques are the pictures, images, and letters you are going to add to your mailbox to embellish and personalize it.
You gotta have some mouse ears at the top!
Mickey Mouse Template
Print out the page, cut out the image, and trace this onto the back of your fabric (I have some tailor's chalk, you could probably use a regular pencil to get you by.)
People seem to put these at the top of the hanging with their family name and some cute saying like "Cruisin' with Mickey!' I don't have an embroidery machine and don't even want to start trying to figure out Disney Font, plus I never have the time, so I'm just going to do the quick & dirty way and cut out the first initials of my kids' and nephews' names.
I used to print out and trace letters as well, but I now find it easier to cut squares and then free-hand cut the letters out of those boxes (for letters like H and I, you can fold the square and one cut will give you two consistent sides.) As long as you try to make all of your line thicknesses the same, they will match each other. In this case, the boxes were originally cut 4" high and 3" wide.
Next your cuts of fabric: Disney and/or pirate themed fabrics seem to be the most popular.
- 2 cuts of 22" x 10 1/2 " (one front of hanging, one back of hanging) (you'll need it longer than 22 if you have more than three 'pockets', shorter if you have less);
- 3 cuts of 16 " x 10 1/2" (one for each pocket; you're going to fold them in half so that they are 8" high)
- 1 cut 12" x 4 " for your hanging ribbon, unless you just want to use ribbon or string
Add your appliques to the pockets. Go ahead and sew straight through the two layers. You keep the fold at the top, because this is the top of the pocket and will remain open and clean.
Next, sew the pockets onto the "front" piece. I honestly did not measure the spacing of these--just eyeball'd 'em. I'm guessing about 3" between the top of one and bottom of another. You want to turn under the non-folded side of the pocket and sew it onto the front.
|Be careful! Here's what happened when I go too quick and dirty. That's my foot stuck on the bow tie.|
Ok, now attaching front and back piece. Put "right sides" together and pin a few points. You are going to sew the sides and bottom together, then pull through to turn the whole thing right side out.
In this pic I folded over the hanging to show you both sides.
Once you have the right side out, iron it so it's nice and flat.
Next you are going to focus on the hanging mechanism. There are so many ways to do this, but since I actually had an extra dowel in the house left over from another project, I decided to fold the top around to the back of the hanging about two inches as a sleeve for a rod. I saw some women use beautiful mini drapery rods, or simply use string and no reinforcement. Honestly I think you could glue two chopsticks together and just hide them on the inside; you just need some help. Up to you and your level of ability and the precious limits of time and material.
I attached my handmade strap to the last two inches of the back of the hanging (upside down) before turning it down and sewing it through. You have to attach the strap first, so that when you sew down the entire "loop", it is actually a loop to insert the dowel and not closed on the sides from your strap hem (have done this obviously.) (Maybe many times over.)
<-- Once again: the dirty. I forgot to sew my strap together before attaching it! Quick fix after the fact. No one will notice.
To make my strap, I start with the same technique used to make binding. Cut a 4" wide strip of your fabric (about 12" long is good) and fold each side length-wise to meet in the middle. Iron in the sides into the middle, then fold again and iron the whole thing flat. I sew down the open side, and turn in the ends and sew them shut to make it complete.
ALL DONE! Simple, right? Now go make dinner, the kids are going apesh** downstairs.
AND HAVE FUN ON THE CRUISE!! I'll let you know how it goes for me, if I end up looking like a total poser or if I shine with glee every time I pass one of mine in the hallways....
I don't think I looked like a poser. There were only 4-5 other extenders from what I saw, so it may have just been cruisers who brought theirs, not having bonded with other cruisers pre-trip, but rather, used it as a marker of where the room was, and as a little mail box. My sis-in-law and I had fun using them to surprise the kids with little toys that the 'fairies' must have brought them. Another little fun aspect to our trip!