Advent Calendar Tutorial….
Finally done! It only took me a year! If you make this (or anything else using my tutorials), please post to my Flickr group. I would really love to see the things you’ve made!
I’ve been wanting to make an advent calendar for several years now and am glad I finally got around to it. I’m really excited about how it turned out, even with my VERY limited embroidery skills. I’ve only embroidered two things before this, so anyone can do this, even if you’ve never embroidered anything. These are excellent instructions on the different stitches. There is also some basic embroidery info here.
I used the split stitch for the wreaths and trees (I’m having to look this all up….I couldn’t remember the names!), the stem stitch for the numbers, the back-stitch for the candles, and french knots for berries and parts of the garland. I used my machine to make the window panes. I used Wooly Nylon in Dark Brown, but I think you could also use two threads threaded through the same needle.
– 1 yard natural linen (you will only use half, but you need the width)
– 1 yard background fabric (I used home dec….I think quilters cotton would be flimsy, not to mention the extra width is nice…felt would work well too)
– about 2 yards unbleached muslin…maybe a little less
– embroidery floss (Joanns has a package of a ton of colors for a great price…it might not be quite as nice to DMC, but it is cotton and the price is right)…you will need green, red, white, black, and gold/yellow…..or whatever you choose to use
– hand sewing needles with large eyes
– black or brown thread for the window panes
– small dowell or stick
– Advent Calendar Embroidery
– 46 4″x4″ muslin squares
– 2: 4.5″ x 7.5″ from door fabric (I will be using the same fabric as the background)
– 27″ x 32.5″ of background print
– 29″ x 24″ of linen and muslin for house….we will be cutting it into a house shape
– 30″ x 4″ pieces of background print fabric for hanging loops
I used a 1/4″ seam allowance on the muslin squares and on the chimney. I used a 3/8″ seam allowance on the rest of the house, because of the linen liking to unravel.
Take the linen for the house. Fold it in half so the two long sides meet . Take a ruler and draw a dot (with chalk or a disappearing pen) 3.5″ from the top. Using a ruler, draw a diagonal line from the top center to the dot. Unfold. Draw a chimney…mine is about 2″ about 4.5″ from the edge. Really it’s whatever looks good to you. Cut along the roof line, making sure you don’t chop off the chimney! Use this piece as a template to cut out a house from the muslin. Now all your pieces are cut and you’re ready to sew.
Take two muslin squares and sew them right sides together (if you can tell which is the right side, you’re a better sewer than me!), leaving a couple inches to turn them. Repeat with the remaining 44 squares. Turn them right sides out and press. Topstitch along one side of each square…this will be the top of the pocket.
Now using black or brown thread, stitch along the middle of each square. You could mark each square with a pencil, but I just used my machines stitching lines and it was close enough. I did it chain piecing style, one after another without cutting the thread in between. Then take all the squares again and do the same thing, but perpendicular to the other lines, so you will be making a cross. You could do this by hand, but machine is so much quicker and really, I think it looks just fine. Now all your windows are ready to embroider!
The embroidery is obviously the most time consuming part of the project, but I think the results are well worth it! It’s so nice to have something to do while you’re watching a movie, especially this time of year! The link for the embroidery patterns are above, under the supplies list.
Once you’ve finished emroidering the squares, you can the background ready. Take the background print and fold each edge over 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again to hem it. Stitch it down.
For the house, take the linen and muslin and sew them right sides together. I pinned like crazy and I think it is kind of important, since both muslin and linen like to stretch out of shape. Leave a couple inches for turning. Turn it right side out and press. Center it on the background and topstitch all around. I used my edge foot, with my needle as far left as it will go. Again, I used a lot of pins (I’m not a big pinner, but sometimes it is very helpful!).
Sew your door pieces right sides together, leaving a couple inches unsewn. Turn it right side out and press.
Once your windows are ready to go, use your ruler to map out the placement of the windows. Or you can eyeball it. They will be a wee bit less than an inch apart side to side and a wee bit more than an inch up and down. You can see in the picture I chose to put mine in order, but I suppose you could just place them randomly. Stitch the door and windows on along the two sides and bottom of each one. Don’t sew the tops or you will have nice little patches instead of pockets!
Now we’re going to make the loops to hang the calendar. If you wanted to, you could cut the background fabric bigger and make a sleeve to put a dowel in, but I wanted to do it this way.
Take the 30″ x 4″ rectangles. Fold it in half lengthwise(basically, you’re making bias tape). Press. Unfold and fold the two edges so they meet along the center fold line and press. Now fold it in half again and press. If this is confusing, look up making bias tape. I’m such a terrible picture taker when it comes to tutorials! Stitch along each long edge. Cut into three pieces about 7″ long each. Take one of the strips and fold it half so the two short sides meet. Stitch it to the top of the back about two inches from each edge and in the middle. Use a small dowel or stick to thread through each loop to hang.
One thing I realized after making this is the door is really tall…as in…hard to get stuff out of. I’m sure you can come up with a more creative solution than I can. If not, candy canes work well! 🙂
And you’re done! All you have to do now is hang it up and remember to put stuff in it! And bask in the glow as your kid’s proclaim you the best mommy in the world.