Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Calendar (panel) tutorial

As promised, here are the step-by-step instructions for this cute Advent Calendar.  Even though December has begun, it's not too late to whip this project together.  We have everything you need for this advent calendar at the shop.  It is a quick project, especially if you have your favorite Christmas music to keep you company!  

The finished calendar measures about 18" x 27"

Quick and easy handmade advent calendar

You'll need 1 panel (Happy Christmas by Northcott Fabrics), backing fabric and some thin batting.
(Some brief instructions are included as part of the panel as well.)

Step 1: Cut out the main panel piece and each of the pocket squares:

Advent Calendar Northcott fabric panel



advent calendar

Step 2:  On each pocket square there are dotted lines:

advent calendar

 Fold down the top of each pocket, right on the dotted line.  Press well with an iron to get a nice, crisp fold:

advent calendar

Step 3:  Next, fold that same raw edge down once more so that the raw edge meets the ironed fold:

advent calendar

Then fold over along that pressed edge.  This encases that raw edge:

advent calendar tutorial

Top stitch along this edge.  I used my 1/4" foot and it worked perfectly.
(note: use a coordinating thread for these next few steps.  All of the stitching on the pockets will show on your finished calendar.)

advent calendar tutorial

advent calendar tutorial

Repeat for all other pockets:

advent calendar tutorial


Step 4:  Press under 1/4" on sides and bottom of all pockets.  Press.

advent calendar tutorial

Step 5:  Place each pocket on its corresponding square and pin in place.  

advent calendar tutorial

Top stitch on the sides and bottom of each pocket, leaving the top open.  I recommend that you back stitch well at the two top corners.


advent calendar tutorial

All pockets are in place!

advent calendar tutorial

Step 6:  Cut your backing fabric and batting to be the same size as the top.  Layer the batting, backing (right side up) and top (right side down.)


advent calendar tutorial

Pin in place along all edges, leaving a 7" or 8" section open for turning:

advent calendar tutorial

I usually mark the part I want to leave open with double pins to indicate my stopping and starting points:

advent calendar tutorial

Step 7:  Sew around outside of calendar, pivoting at corners and watching for your 7-8" opening.  I used a 1/4" seam but there is some wiggle room here if you prefer a 1/2" seam. 

Step 8:  Turn calendar right-side-out.  Press and sew the opening closed.  I used a coordinating thread and an invisible stitch:

advent calendar tutorial

Step 9:  At this point you can just press the calendar well and be done.  I chose to do some straight-line quilting between each of the pockets and around the outside edge of the entire calendar, about 1/2" in from the edge.  

advent calendar tutorial

The straight-line quilting goes quickly (especially with a walking foot) and adds a nice finished look.

advent calendar Northcott fabric panel

Step 10:  This is an optional step, but I added a hanging sleeve to the back.  Cut a piece of backing fabric about 15" x 5".  Fold ends in about 1/2" in and press.  Then fold sleeve in half lenghwise, right sides together.  Sew, using 1/4" seam (you can see in this photo the ends that have been folded in and pressed:)

advent calendar tutorial

Turn right-side-out and press along seam to help it lay flat.  

Step 11:  To place it on the backing, find the center point of the calendar and the center of the sleeve.  Mark both with a pin.  Matching those center points, pin sleeve to the advent calendar being sure to keep the sleeve evenly spaced from the top of the advent calendar.  If the sleeve is sewn on crooked, the advent calendar will hang crooked - don't ask me how I know :)  

advent calendar tutorial

Step 12:  Using a needle and thread sew the sleeve in place.  Be sure your stitching does not go all the way through to the front of the calendar - just catch the batting and the backing in your stitches.

advent calendar tutorial


Your advent calendar is ready to hang and use!  Fill the pockets with small candies, or papers with ideas for fun Christmas activities.  


Advent Calendar Happy Christmas Northcott panel



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