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Sunday, December 1, 2013

DIY Advent Calendar

I've meant to write this post for the past 2 years BEFORE hitting December and I've done it again. It's December 1st and here I am, technically a day late for an advent calendar, but I'm still going to write it!

Growing up, we had an advent calendar that hung on the coat closet door in our foyer. Every day, we'd take turns (aka fight over) putting little ornaments on the felt tree. This little calendar signifies Christmas to me and my siblings, but there was only one of them. The original is at my Dad's house, so I decided to copy the pattern and make them for all of us now that we've grown up and moved out.

For this project, you'll need...
  • Red felt
  • Green felt (with or without sparkles)
  • 24 large gold brads
  • 24 small ornaments, threaded to be hung
  • Glittery puffy paint
  • Thin wooden dowel cut to 15"
  • 1 yard thin ribbon
  • Rotary cutter/scissors
  • Measuring stick
  • Hot glue gun
These are the colors/materials that I used, but its up to you what colors you want to make things.

To start, cut the backing of the calendar to 15" x 27". This makes it long enough while still having a little at the top to fold over the wooden dowel. I used a rotary cutter and cutting guide, but some careful scissor work will do the trick as well.

Next, you'll need to cut out the strips that will make up the pockets. There are four strips, each 2.5" x 15". After cutting the strips, lay them out on the backing to space them properly for sewing. The edge of the bottom strip should line up with the bottom of the backing. Each subsequent upper layer should be tucked 1/4" under the one beneath it. This layers them so when you sew across the bottom, the stitches are hidden by the next strip.

Pin the top strip in place, removing the rest for now. Sew across the bottom of the strip. Take the next strip laying 1/4" over the first one and sew across the bottom. Do this with the next two.

Next, sew down the sides of the strips.

With the strips in place, its time to sew the individual pockets. In order to turn 4 strips into 24 little pockets, we need 6 in each row. 15" inches divided by 6 = 2.5" pockets. Using a measuring stick or cutting guide, pin or mark every 2.5" across the entire strip.

Then, sew down the five lines you just marked off, creating 24 little pockets. 

Next, fold down the top 1" to create a sleeve for the wooden dowel. Sew it in place with a 1/4" seam. Slide the dowel through along with your ribbon. The dowel keeps it stiff and the ribbon allows you to hang it. Tie the ribbon to a desired length for hanging and pull the knot through the sleeve so it is hidden.

It's time to make the tree! I used glittery green felt for this part. I free handed the tree by folding the felt in half to get symmetry, but you can also look for a template to print and follow. Make sure that the height of your tree doesn't exceed 15" or it won't fit on the upper part of the calendar.

Next, take your 24 brads and push them through the green felt sporadically. The ornaments will hang on these brads.

To attach the tree to the calendar backing, I used hot glue for ease of use and to make sure I didn't run over any brad legs with my machine. Metal + sewing machine needle = not good.

Almost done! With your puffy paint (I use the pens rather than the little bottles), write numbers 1 to 24 on the pockets. Allow the calendar to dry flat so the numbers don't run. When everything is dry, stuff each pocket with a tiny ornament.

I got my ornaments at Michael's in the Christmas section. There was a surprising number of different kinds - bells, little twinkle lights, snowmen, snowflakes, presents, horns, drums, etc. I also found a small start to top the tree, but you can also use a small angel or special ornament. Hot glue does the trick.

It was our tradition that there was only ONE Santa ornament though and he, of course, went in the 24 pocket for Christmas Eve.

If you end up making this calendar, I hope your family enjoys it as much as we have over the years. If you make it, I'd love to see pictures of the finished product! Happy December!

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