Friday, November 14, 2014

Liberty and Linen Advent Calendar!

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!


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
Thin Batting
Backing fabric
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 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 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!


**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.

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
IG: sunnydaysupply
Pinterest: Sunny Day Supply

Have a great weekend!
xo mary



  1. Absolutely darling! Looking forward to hearing more about your shop.

  2. Очень красивый адвент-календарь! :-)

  3. What a fun idea! Thanks for sharing!

  4. how lovely Mary. thanks for the tutorial and the needle recommendation!

  5. What a great tutorial. How exciting that you are opening a web shop!!! I love the name .

  6. This is so adorable! I wish your shop was already open so I could order the linen and numbers! Maybe I can make it my 2015 Christmas project? Thanks for sharing your expertise with us Mary- surely a magazine would have paid handsomely for it......

  7. best of luck with your on line shop.
    Very clear tutorial thanks for sharing it with us

  8. I look forward to stopping at your new shop and thank you so much for sharing the tutorial!

  9. I am looking forward to hearing more about your shop, I love your quilting and expect you will pick lovely fabrics too.

  10. just beautiful Mary. Thanks so much for sharing. I chased down the number fabric and hope to make one as soon as fabric arrives. Also, how very exciting about your new online store. Yay!!!

  11. This is amazing Mary! Your tutorial is so great. I bet you will have so much fun counting down the days til Christmas with this! And in so much style with your Liberty!

    I can't wait to shop with you online! Cant WAIT!

  12. If I make one, I would have to make two - one to keep and one to give as a Christmas present.
    A shop? Oooh! I wait to hear when the web designer has it up and running.

  13. Terrific tutorial for a charming Advent calendar. I hope your niece loves it as much as we all do! I went on IG to follow you at sunnyday, but it seems I already am following you! Yay!!