I love counting down the days until Christmas. Grandpa Leibbrand always had a calendar and daily gift for us. Sometimes Mom would buy the cardboard advent calendars with doors that would reveal a piece of chocolate for each day. I remember sneaking some of the chocolates early. One year we had little box ornaments that were filled with candy and opened for the countdown. Some of the simplest advent calendars I used were ones I made with paper–often a chain with 24 links and I would tear one off per day.
This year, I wanted to make an advent calendar, but I wanted something a little more sophisticated and something that would last for years to come. With my new hobby of sewing, I thought an advent calendar of fabric would be perfect. I surfed the web and found several ideas and inspiring designs.
This is what I ended up with:
I bought the cute mini ornaments from Jo-Ann Fabrics.
The ornaments had ugly gold threads. I cut them off and hot glued ribbon loops on the backs of the ornaments.
I think the ornaments look happier!
I wanted to use my Hobby Lobby Christmas music fabric for the background, so I laid out the ornaments and buttons to figure out how large my tree would need to be.
Based on the size of the ornaments, I cut a Christmas tree shape out of wrapping paper.
I pinned the pattern to my beautiful Jo-Ann Fabric’s material and cut it out.
Now, I should have sewn the buttons on the tree, but I like to make things difficult and appliquéd the two sides of the tree on the music fabric first. :}
I pinned the tree to the background.
This green fabric was really difficult to work with (I have a knack for choosing tricky material). I had to garment hem the edges and then appliqué the tree. The garment hem kept the fabric’s weave from falling apart with the slightest tug. I ended up going around the edges twice when appliquéing.
After I appliquéd the tree, I positioned the buttons and pinned them in place. I ended up using more than 24 so that I can switch up the placement of the ornaments from year to year.
All of the buttons are sewn and make the tree look festive even if it is void of ornaments.
Next, I stuffed the Christmas tree to give it some body and added interest.
I needed to “quilt” my stuffed tree so that the stuffing wouldn’t settle at the bottom of the tree. I chose really tiny jingle bells and stitched them in alternating rows.
I liked the bells so much, I had to add them to the tips of each branch. They make the cutest jingle sound!
The pockets for the ornaments took quite a bit of time and they are the reason my advent calendar couldn’t start on December 1st this year.
I cut out two sets of of rectangles for either side of the tree (ornament pockets). The dimensions are 13″ X 5″; 10.5″ X 5″; and 8″ X 5″. I garment hemmed them all. The final pocket (#25 for the star) is 9.5″ X 5″.
I then pressed them in half (“hotdog” style). The 25 “trunk” of the tree is a “hamburger” fold.
I used a disappearing ink fabric marker and wrote each number for the pockets. I then embroidered the numbers with bright red floss.
The pins indicate the pocket size. They are approximately 2.5″ in length. The pockets are pressed so that the backside of the embroidery is covered by a length of fabric and thus protected from ornaments snagging it.
I then pinned the pockets to the music fabric.
Next step, appliqué the pockets. Once the pockets are appliquéd, I straight stitched the pockets.
The ornaments are ready to go!
After all of the pockets were done, I quilted my advent calendar.
My backing is green flannel. After pinning the layers, I quilted around the tree and pockets. I then used red binding and added a “sleeve” so that my advent calendar could hang on a curtain rod. I did not include quilting instructions because I am clearly a novice, and there are many wonderful tutorials currently on the web.
Since this project took me so long, it’s already the sixth day of advent.
I can’t wait to pull the star out of this pocket.