Did you have an Advent Calendar when you were little? We had one every year, but it was one of the cardboard calendars with the little windows that opened. Each window had a surprise picture waiting to be exposed. I always thought it was so much fun, but usually all of the windows were opened by the end of the first week!
Years later, I realized some kids had calendars with little pockets for real surprises! Imagine! Not a little picture of what you could possible have, but an actual surprise! Hmmmmm....
So, now that my kids are way beyond the Advent Calendar age...hehe...I decided to make a calendar for my niece to hang in her home. The pockets are just the right size for little softies, a bit of candy, or a candy cane, a matchbox car or my pretty pony!
If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the sneak peeks...I also had a few requests for a tutorial...
so here you go!
MOLLY FLANDERS ADVENT CALENDAR
Background fabric...22" wide X 39" long (I used Essex linen in Flax)
Pockets and Pocket linings....25 pockets and 25 pocket linings 4" wide X 5" long (I used Essex for the pockets and Liberty for the linings)
Numbers from number printed fabric, or number stamps, or fabric to make your own numbers and a fusible webbing...more on this later
Embroidery floss or Perle cotton for stitching...I use size 8 Valdani Perle Cotton
A disappearing marker such as Frixion pen
Begin by cutting 10 inches off one end of your background fabric, leaving a 22" wide X 29" long section and a piece measuring 22" wide X 10" long. Set these aside.
Making the pockets
Cut 25 exteriors for the pockets 4" wide X 5" long and 25 pocket linings, also 4" wide X 5" long.
Place the lining and exterior together with right sides facing and using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch both long sides and the top short side....leave the bottom short side open
Turn the pocket right side out. Push out the sides and the corners and press well. A chop stick works well for getting into small corners.
With the pocket exterior facing up, fold down the top end about a half inch, exposing the lining fabric and press again.
Stitch across the lining edge by machine or with floss/perle cotton....
For each pocket you will need a number so the kiddos can count down the days!
I used a fabric with numbers that I could cut apart, other options would be to make your own numbers with fabric and fusible webbing. If you have a Silouhette or similar cutter, this would be perfect for making numbers. Also, there are many sites to download fonts. So you can easily print out numbers and even change the size in your printer. Another option would be to embroider your own numbers (you may want to embroider before you add the lining fabric). Or you could stamp numbers using stamps and ink. How about making your own stamp! Get the kids involved and have them help make potato stamps! So many possibilities!
Stitch the number to the center of each pocket exterior and then go back over the machine stitching with floss or perle cotton. Be sure to leave at least a 1/4 inch from the bottom open edge free. This area will become a seam allowance for your pocket.
**note: if you don't like raw edges you can either turn under the edge or use fusible webbing**
After you have the numbers on the pockets, turn the pocket over so the lining side is facing up. Using a disappearing marking tool or a Frixion pen, mark line 1/4 inch from the open raw edge.
Placing the pockets
Take your background piece of fabric measuring 22" wide X 29" long.
Measure 3" down from the top edge and, using a disappearing marking tool or a Frixion pen, draw a horizontal line from one side to the other. This is your top margin. From this line measure down 4" and draw another line from side to side. And continue dropping down 4" and drawing a line from side to side until you have drawn 6 lines. These lines are for placing the pockets. So you should now have 7 lines total from side to side. Whew!
Skipping the first line, go to the second line (4" down from the 1st line). Starting at the left hand side and on the second line, place a little mark on the line about 1.75" in from the left hand edge. Now place your ruler edge at that mark and make marks on the line at 5", 10", 15".....
here you can see a small mark 1.75" from the left edge...
placing your ruler at the first mark on the line...make a mark at 5", 10", and 15"...these are guide marks for placing the pockets.
Repeat this process for the rest of the lines (lines 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)
Remember the very first line at the top is just to mark the bottom of the top margin or the header.
Sewing the Pockets onto the Banner
Take pocket #1 and flip over so the lining is facing up and upside down. The raw open edge should be at the top and lines matching....like this....the left edge of your pocket will line up with the small register marks you made on the line.
Pin in place and stitch on the drawn line. Back stitch at the beginning of the pocket edge and at the end.
Flip the pocket up so you can see the number and finger press. If you have marked with a tool that disappears with heat or is set with heat, make sure you simply finger press...don't put the iron to it!
Stitch both sides of the pocket, leaving the top of the pocket open!!!
the dashed marked line shows the stitching area.
Repeat this for 24 pockets. You will have 4 pockets per line...don't add #25 yet.
Making the point for the Banner
Once you have all 24 pockets on the body of the banner, you are ready to make the pointy bottom section which will hold #25.
Take the other piece of background fabric that measures 22" wide X 10" long.
Fold in half so it measures 11" wide X 10" long. Place the folded fabric on your cutting mat so the fold is at the top. Line up your acrylic ruler from the top right hand side to the lower left hand hand side. Notice that when you cut from corner to corner, you will be able to open this up creating a large triangle.
Cut from upper right hand corner to the lower left hand corner...
Adding the last pocket
The last pocket will be placed on the triangle. Make sure to leave at least 1/4" clear around all edges for seam allowance.
I placed mine low enough to add a little easy embroidery to the triangle...
Draw a line for the pocket placement and stitch in place like the other 24 pockets.
I used my marking tool to mark a simple Swedish looking tree with a star on top. And using a backstitch, added a little simple embroidery.
Stitch the long edge of the triangle to the body of the Advent Calendar. You may want to trim the edge of the body of the calendar before stitching if you prefer less space between the last row and the beginning of the triangle.
Adding the Pick Stitching
Because I didn't want to add a binding to my calendar, I pin basted a piece of batting to the wrong side of the calendar and did most of my pick stitching (hand quilting, big stitch) on the front only...not through three layers. I stitched on the line marking the header, stitched each pocket line and between the pockets from top to bottom.
The black line outlining the entire calendar was done last...after I had added the backing...through all three layers.
You may want to embroider Merry Christmas or another Christmas motif in the header area....just a thought.
Because I used a Frixion pen...I pressed my calendar to make the marks disappear. It's always a good idea to test the Frixion pen with your fabric before you begin any project.
Putting the Backing Together with the Front
I chose not to do a binding all around the calendar so I could leave an opening and turn right side out.
To add the backing, I first trimmed any batting even with my calendar front. I stitched a small zig-zag stitch around the entire calendar front to hold the batting and calendar together. Then I pinned my calendar, right sides facing, with my backing fabric. My backing fabric was not cut to the size of the calendar. It was a large piece of fabric extending beyond the edges of the calendar. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch the calendar and backing together...BE SURE TO LEAVE AN OPENING FOR TURNING AT THE TOP OF THE CALENDAR.
I stitched with the calendar/batting facing me so I could follow the edge of the calendar. Make sure you use a 1/4" seam allowance and you may want to use a walking foot.
Trim the backing even with the calendar and turn right side out. Push out all points and corners. Stitch the opening closed by hand.
After all three layers were together, I went back and outlined the entire calendar with black Valdani perle cotton.
Are you still with me???
Adding the Tabs
The last detail is to add tabs for hanging.
Cut tabs 7.5" wide X 9" long.
Stitch in half along the length so you end up with a tube 3.5" X 9". Press the seam open. Turn the tube right side out and place the seam in the center of the back of the tube...press well. Turn under both short ends 1/2 inch and press again.
I added stitching all around the edge.
Pin the tabs to the top and machine stitch in place.
Just for fun, I added 3 large X's to each tab!
YOU ARE FINISHED!!!!
**a couple of thoughts**
I hope you enjoy this tutorial, but please refer back to me and this post if you make a calendar and post it online.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:
Valdani Perle Cotton size 8
Fons and Porter Utility Needles for pick stitching...I have tried many but these are by far the best. They are designed to be used with size 8 perle cotton
Nimble Thimble...I have small fingers and this is the only thimble for me!
Aurifil thread for piecing
About the fabrics....I am in the process of opening a web shop! Yay! My sister and I are working with a web designer to develop a web site...we are getting much closer to a launch date...but everything takes time. We are building inventory, and have some fabulous fabrics to offer. Lots of Japanese fabrics (like the number fabric), Liberty of London, fabrics from Sweden, and Australia, kits from the U.K.!!! It's all so exciting! I will be sure to keep you updated, but you will be able to find us at
Pinterest: Sunny Day Supply
Have a great weekend!