This is a project I did a few years back after looking for an interesting advent calendar and not finding anything to my liking: indeed this is how most of my DIY attempts come about! In this case I had an idea for a re-usable advent calendar which could be filled with chocolates each year. After some initial designs I settled on a nice Christmas tree design make out of felt since I didn’t have a sewing machine. To make this more advanced it could be made from something more durable – e.g. cotton – with embroidery on the pockets.
Also with this calendar you can adjust the contents to fit your audience: e.g. specific sweets they enjoy or if they don’t have a sweet tooth what about lego or another small gift?
The steps include tracing it all out in paper/cardboard first – whilst this does add more steps and time to the process I highly recommend it. The worst thing to do is cut a piece and realise you’ve made to too small to use.
|Technical||Cutting and a basic running stitch is all you need|
|Creativity||The pockets are your chance to personalise this; though you can default to numbers!|
|Time||Can be done in a weekend|
|Cost||Ingredients can be bought for <£10|
- Required: Various colours of felt, including one large piece of dark green; fabric scissors; fabric glue; scrap cardboard (e.g. cereal box) and paper ; a pen; pins
- Optional: Ribbon, bells
- First decide on the size of the pockets.This is key if you’re wanting to make an advent calendar to hold a specific chocolate – e.g. lindor balls or mini santas – then you need to ensure the pocket will fit these.In my version they are 5cm square. Allow a 2-5mm border around the bottom and sides for the stitching. It can be quite charming for the chocolate to peep out of the top though! Squares or rectangles are likely easiest, but a U shape could also work.
- Once you’ve done this cut out 24 (or 25 if you feel you’ll need choccies on Christmas itself!) of these shapes in paper and arrange in the layout you’d like on the scrap cardboard. I used 1-2-2-3-3-4-4-5 for the trees after some experimenting.
Leave few millimetres between each pocket.
- Draw a tree (or other desired shape) on the cardboard surrounding the paper pockets.
Doing this on the cardboard first, rather than the felt, allows you to have a few goes at making it perfect.
- Top tip: draw one half only, then fold in half and cut along the line: this will ensure your tree is perfectly symmetrical!
- Use this as a stencil to draw out the shape on the green felt and cut out. Put one to one side.
- If you’re embroidering the felt pockets, do this now. Otherwise if just adhering designs, do this later.
- Pin the felt pockets in place on one of the felt trees. Try not to pin them too flat, but pin the top of the pocket marginally closer than the bottom (see picture).This allows the pocket to bow slightly, and will hold your chocolates without stretching.
- Using a basic running stitch and whichever colour thread you prefer, stich the bottom three sides in place.Don’t worry about messy stitching or knots on the back – this will all be covered up! Focus on making the front stitching as even and straight as possible
- For the trunk of the tree, cut a rectangle of brown felt, 10cm by 8cm. Fold in half and stitch along the long side and one short side. Do this a little into the edge, as this will “bulk up” the trunk once turned inside out. Turn inside out and ensure the corners are pushed out. Stitch the open end to the centre of the bottom edge of the tree.
- Take 15cm of ribbon or other felt and create a flat loop as shown in the picture. Stitch to the top edge for hanging the calendar.
- If you’re adding any bells or baubles to the advent calendar, sew these on now.
- Take the second tree and pin to the back – this will cover any messy stitching on the back, and give more weight to the advent calendar.
- Use either a running stitch or, more time consuming, a whip stitch to stich the two trees together. The latter in a darker green thread vs the felt gives a nice “needles on the branch” effect to the tree.
- Using felt, sequins, or whatever you want decorate the pockets! Make a design for each pocket and use fabric glue to attach these to the calendar. If your design is using layers of felt (e.g. the Christmas pudding) then I would suggest gluing the design together and letting dry before then gluing to the pocket to avoid the design moving as you apply it. Ideas include:
- Christmas motifs in felt- holly, candy canes, snowmen, Christmas pudding
- Numbers – simple or elaborate numbering (in any order)
- Designs unique to you or the future owner of the calendar – e.g. books if they’re a bibliophile, dinosaurs, flowers etc
- A sequin (or other applique design) instead if you want a more simple / less technical design.
- Leave to dry fully according to the glue instructions!
- If desired, attach a star to the top of the advent calendar with some fabric glue.
- Fill with goodies, et voilà! Your calendar is ready for Advent!