One of the questions I get asked most often this time of year is, ”where is advent calendar from?” When I sewed it a couple years ago I never would have thought so many people would be interested in it. For that reason I didn’t think to document the process. I also tend to be a “wing it” type of crafter so documenting things for tutorials isn’t something I’m good about doing. Sorry about that, haha. Because I get asked so often, and the fact that I feel bad that I can’t offer a better response than “I sewed it myself” I had the idea I’d buy the materials and create another one following the process as closely as I remember doing it. This time documenting the process along the way. Our family celebrates Advent each December. We like to use scripture cards to read each day of Advent and I really wanted a physical display to follow the days and also keep our scripture cards in. The boys love getting the cards for each day out of the pockets. There are a lot of different calendars out there, ranging from fabric one, felt, legos, paper, the list goes on. I wanted something simple and minimal and handmade. I personally love handmade pieces especially around the holidays. To me it’s more sentimental when you’ve created it with love for your own family with your own two hands. This post will walk you through the process. It is a little time consuming, but definitely a project you can complete in a weekend. There may certainly be other ways of creating one, maybe even a simpler way, but I like the finished look of this one. It can be a little tricky at the pockets, but overall the sewing skills needed are minimal. Just be sure to measure twice and cut once. Get your iron out and your pins. Measuring, pressing and pinning are not steps your want to skip. If you have a serger that would make the pocket sewing on the backside much easier and not so thick because you’d only need to fold it over once rather than twice to create your hem. If you have that I would suggest using it!
Should we get started?
- 2 yards of cotton duck canvas – you will have extra, but I always like to have extra in case I mess up
- Coordinating thread
- Sewing Machine
- Scissors – a pair of pinking shears would be helpful but not necessary. Pinking shears helps to keep fabric from fraying. This is especially useful if you don’t have a serger.
- Measuring tape – the sewing measuring tape is what I like best
- Yard stick
- Fabric Chalk pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Black Felt – I chose to cut out my own numbers. For an easier option you could stencil your numbers on with fabric paint or get pre-cut felt numbers from a craft supply store. I personally like the look of the hand cut numbers.
- Dowel Rod
I found it helpful this time around to use my cutting mat and rotary cutter, but this isn’t necessary.
- Step One: Lay your cloth down and press it with your iron, I like using the steam it helps to get those deep set wrinkles out. You’ll want to lay and cut your fabric on a large flat surface.
- Step Two: Measure your main piece 37″x 28″ – I like using at least one of my salvage edges – it helps to not have to hem at least one of the sides
- Step Three: Fold and press your edges – I used a salvage edge so one side I only had to fold over once the other I folded about 1/2” pressed it and 1/2” again. You’ll want your long sides to be a finished size of about 26” so that gives you two inches for your seams
- Step Four: Press and hem your bottom edge. I folded mine about 1/2″ then a 1/2″ again.
- Step Five: Press and hem your top. Folding about 1/2” and then fold again this time fold down further. Mine was about 3 1/2″. This creates a pocket to put your dowel rod in. Kind of like a curtain pocket.
- Your finished main piece should measure about 32″x26″
- Step Six: Cut five pocket pieces measuring about 6”x30” – This is where my cutting mat and rotary cutter came in handy.
- Step Seven: Press your top and bottom edge of your pocket piece – your finished size should measure about 3 1/2″ You only need to sew the hem of your top pocket piece. The bottom will get a top stitch when you attach it to your main piece. Just make sure the bottom is folded over twice to create a clean hem and pressed well.
- Step Eight: Time to place your pockets pieces and attach to your main piece.
- Measure one inch from the bottom of your main piece, line up the bottom of your pocket one inch from the bottom edge of your main piece. Make sure you center your pocket pieces so that you have over hang on both sides. The extra on both sides will get folded over twice and attached to the backside to create a clean hem. Pin in place carefully measuring that the pocket is straight and positioned one inch from the bottom. Sew in place along the bottom edge of your pocket as close to the edge as you can.
- From the top of the pocket you just placed, measure two inches, this is where your next pocket’s bottom edge should be be positioned. Again measure carefully that the bottom edge is two inches from the top edge of the previous pocket. Repeat until all pockets have been positioned and sewn.
- You now have all your pockets sewn on. It’s time to clean up the edges and hem the sides of your pockets. Fold over the sides of your pockets once, pressing them with the iron. Fold over again to create a clean hem. Pin in place and sew along the edge of each of your pockets. Because the fabric is thick this is the trickiest part of the whole project. Don’t be like me and snap your sewing machine needle in half. Slow and steady. Pinning and pressing helps a lot in this step, so don’t skip that part.
- Step Nine: Now it’s time to measure and sew your pockets. I measured 6 inches from the left side and marked my pockets, then I measured about 4 3/4″ inches from there. Then 4 3/4″ again and again one more time. You will be sewing 4 lines to create your pockets. Giving you five pockets for each row. When you sew your lines be sure to sew from the bottom of your pocket to the top. This keeps the lines crisp and your pocket from bunching.
- Step Ten: Time you cut and attach your numbers. I just used a word document with a font that I liked. I think my numbers were around 200 ish in font size. I cut them out and just traced the numbers on to the felt using a chalk pencil. Again you can choose to stencil your numbers instead or try to find pre cut numbers. It’s a little time consuming, but I really like the finished hand cut numbers personally. Attach your felt numbers using fabric glue.
- I chose to use a dowel rod, I had my husband cut it down and I stained it. You could go the same route, you could also use grommets instead or just tack it to the wall.
That’s it folks, that’s all she wrote. I really hope this tutorial is helpful and it encourages you that you can create your own for you and your family to cherish year after year! If you have any questions about the tutorial just let me know in the comments.