One of the best things about the countdown to Christmas, is counting down to Christmas!
It’s a great idea to make a reusable Advent Calendar – not only is it great for the planet, it is also creating a family heirloom for future generations to enjoy! The panel we've made up today is designed by Dashwood Studio is really pretty with modern Christmas images, in lovely bright colours. We also sell other designs of advent panels, and these instructions can be applied to them all.
There are instructions written on the fabric panel, but they do assume quite a lot of experience, and if you’ve never made one before, we hope this blog gives you much more help and guidance - especially the photos!
You will need:
- Preprinted Advent Panel - we have a selection to choose from!
- 1/2m Wadding - we recommend 80/20 cotton/poly wadding from our shop
- 1/2m Backing Fabric
- Basic sewing kit and machine
- Walking Foot
- 505 Spray
- Wooden Dowel and Ribbon to hang
Step One - Prepare Your Fabrics
We start by cutting out the backing panel, leaving a quarter inch grey border around all four sides. Then we need to cut out the pockets leaving them together in a long strip, with a quarter inch white border along the top and bottom and along each side. This is easier to do with a rotary cutter and a long ruler, but it is quite possible to do it with fabric scissors, a normal ruler and a fabric marker pen.
Step Two - Create Your Pockets
Some designs will have 24 individual pockets to sew on, treat them the same as the longer strips
Take all the pocket strips and fold over the top edge, press it in place…..
And stitch all along the top edge of the pocket strip (you can see the red stitching on my panel in the photo below)
Next, using an iron, we bring the edges of the coloured squares (on both the left and the right) in to meet the dotted line and thereby create box pleats like this …
And then use pins or Wonder Clips to hold the box pleats in place. Here is the front view and the back view -
Now we need to tack or baste stitch along the bottom edge to keep the box pleats in place, using a very long stitch length and a contrasting colour to make it easy to remove (you can see the yellow thread in this photo).
Step Three - Attach Your Pockets
Our next step is to match our pocket strips to the relevant colour background. I had to turn my background panel around 180 degrees to get this right!
We are nearly there! Now we need to pin the bottom of the pocket strip to the backing panel, and stitch along the sides and bottom of the pocket strip.
Finally we need to match the dotted line to the line between the coloured squares on the back panel and sew along that line. Don't forget to remove the basting stitches.
Step Four - Attach the Wadding and Backing
Now that all the pockets are sewn onto the back panel it’s time to make a quilt sandwich with some soft wadding. I like to use 505 fabric spray to hold my fabrics in place because it is quick, easy and effective.
After joining the fabric panel and the wadding with the 505 spray, I recommend stitching around the sides and bottom edge of the rows of pockets, to make sure those pieces of fabric will remain fixed together if the advent calendar ever needs to be washed.
Now it’s time to make the full quilt sandwich, by adding your choice of backing fabric. I chose a lovely red polka dot by Rose and Hubble. We always stock a great range of colours in the polka dot! It’s best to start with a piece of fabric that is bigger than your panel on all sides, and to remember to use your 505 temporary spray glue. I forgot to do this, and my fabric layers moved under the machine- look what happened …..!
An evening of unpicking later …. I used my 505 spray to fix my backing fabric to my wadding, and I borrowed a walking foot to see if I could do a better job. I’m really delighted to say I did!! And I was so pleased with the way the walking foot made light work of my three layers, that I have made it the first item on my Christmas wish list!!
Step Five - Create Your Hanging Sleeve
The last thing you need to do before adding your edge binding is to think about how you are going to hang your Advent calendar. I decided to make a ‘sleeve’. I cut a long rectangle 3” wide, and a little shorter than the width of the calendar. I turned the edges under and stitched them and ironed it along the centre line as you can see in this photo.
The next thing to do is to pin it wrong sides together, and tack it in place with the raw edges lined up with the raw edges of the body of the calendar. It will be stitched properly when you put your binding on, to finish off your project.
Step Six - Bind your Edges and Finish your Calendar
Binding your advent calendar like a quilt is the prettiest and tidiest way of finishing it off. It's quite involved, so I would recommend checking out this tutorial from The Sewing Directory to guide you through the steps. It's my go to reference.
Don't forget to fill the pockets with a little chocolate or gift!
Here is a photo of my finished project – ta dah!! I put a thin pole through the ‘sleeve’ and attached a piece of red ribbon and put it straight up on my picture rail. Now I just have to wait for December to come around – and we all know how quickly that seems to happen!!
I’m really glad I got this done in plenty of time – it’s been much more relaxing and enjoyable. Happy sewing everybody!