Festive Friends Advent Calendar Tutorial
We are bonkers in love with the Festive Friends collection by Aless Baylis for Dashwood Studio. And the advent calendar print is so darling! Kym whipped one up with lots of little embellishments and shows you how to make your own for someone you love, with plenty of time before 1 December rolls around. Take it away, Kym!
It’s almost that time of year again and for us sewists and crafters it starts even earlier as we begin to make lots of Christmassy goodies!
There are two different Advent Calendar Panels available at The Village Haberdashery and this tutorial applies for both of them. I chose to make the Festive Friends panel and it is so cute with the sweet little animals and fun colour palate.
Just to note… I didn’t follow the instructions on the top of the panel because I wanted to jumble up the pockets!
What you will need:
- The Advent Calendar panel
- A backing fabric and Wadding that are just slightly larger than the finished calendar (I used a fat quarter of Kona Cotton Solid in Lipstick and a left over piece of Dream Cotton Request)
- Small amounts of fabric to back the pockets with (I used some Kona Cotton Solids in Aloe, Lipstick, Primrose, Baby Blue and Shadow)
- Fabric for binding or ready-made bias tape
- Beads, bells, embroidery threads or any embellishment you like.
- 1m of wide Ribbon
- A pole or stick to hang the calendar with
- Water soluble pen
- Scrap fabric
- Point turner
- Basting pins or spray
- Masking tape
- Double sided sticky tape
- General sewing supplies: sewing machine, fabric scissors, pins, iron, hand sewing needle, coordinating thread
Start by giving your panel a press to get rid of any annoying creases then cut the panel in half to separate the pockets from the calendar front.
Trim the calendar front to size (in this case to the outer edge of the green border). I used a large quilting ruler and rotary cutter for this but scissors will do the job too.
Next cut out your pockets following the markings on the panel. I found this easiest using a smaller quilting ruler and rotary cutter but again scissors would be fine.
Embellish the pockets to your heart’s content! Add beads, pom poms, bells, embroidery, French knots and any other embellishments you like. I loved adding the Jingle Bells to the hats of some of the cute animals! Here are a few close ups of some of the finished pockets…
Once you have finished all your embellishments, interface the backs of all the pocket pieces. This secures the back of the stitches as well as giving more strength to each pocket. To do all the separate pockets more quickly place a towel on top of your ironing board to help protect the beads and bells, then on top of that place a piece of scrap fabric or an old tea towel (I used my old ironing board cover!). Lay your pocket pieces face down on top and place the interfacing sticky side down so it covers them.
Double check that you have your interfacing laying sticky side down and then press your iron on top of each piece in section until all areas have been covered.
Peel the whole thing off your scrap fabric and cut out the separate pockets.
If you decide not to embellish the pockets you may wish to interface the pocket side of the panel before cutting out to save on some faff!
Back the pockets
Start by cutting squares of matching fabrics the same size as the pocket pieces.
Place a pocket piece face up and then a new square right side down on top and pin together.
Sew around the square following the edge of the coloured block on the front of the pocket for the stitching line. (You may wish to draw this line onto the wrong side of the piece to make it easier to follow). Leave a 2cm (approx.) gap for turning on the bottom edge and don’t forget to back/lock stitch at the start and finish.
Trim the seam allowances and chop off your corners.
Turn the pocket piece to the right side, a point turner or knitting needle will come in handy here.
Press the pocket piece making sure to fold in the seam allowance at the gap.
Repeat for all the pockets!
Sew on the pockets
Phew! Now they are all sorted it is time to arrange them on your panel front. Choose your layout and then set your pockets aside in the correct order. It is easiest to sew the pockets down one at a time…
Pin on your first pocket lining up the bottom edge with the bottom of its square on the front panel.
Stitch around the two sides and the bottom keeping your stitches as close to the edge of the pocket as possible. Finish each end of your stitching with a triangle in the top corners to help strengthen your attached pocket further.
To do this mark your triangle points with a water soluble pen and using your machine, pivot your work at each point. The marks will help to keep all your triangle the same size.
A problem I found when sewing on my pockets was that no matter how well I was lining them up, they always ended up being wonky once sewn! To solve this, I started at the centre bottom of each pocket and sewed across then up to the top of one side and then started again in the other direction (hopefully the diagram below will make more sense of this for you). Doing it this way meant that I was able to manoeuvre the second side as I was stitching to make sure it was straight!
Don’t forget to tie off your thread ends on the wrong side to prevent the pockets coming loose. (I know tying off all those threads is very time consuming but in this case it gives a much neater finish to back/lock stitching).
Back the Panel
Now all your pockets are on (yippee!) it is time to back the calendar. Lay your backing fabric right side down on a solid surface and tape it down with masking tape to pull it taut.
On top of this place your wadding and smooth it down with your hands. Then place your calendar right side up on top of this and smooth it out too.
Baste the layers together using your preferred method. I prefer to pin baste with curved safety pins but you could spray baste or sew using long running stitches instead.
Quilt your panel as you wish. I decided to just quilt around the two border lines as I felt the panel was already quite ‘busy’. I used my machine with the walking foot accessory to quilt but you could do this by hand if you prefer.
Trim the edges so they are in line with the panel front edge. A quilting ruler and rotary cutter make this job very easy.
Bind the Panel
Almost there now!
I chose to make my binding so as to get a perfect colour match but readymade bias tape works just as well.
Sew your binding to the front of the panel, not forgetting to mitre those corners and then turn and stitch to the back either by hand or machine with a stitch in the ditch. (There is lots of help on youtube for how to do this if you are unsure!)
Hanging the Panel
Cut your ribbon into 3 equal lengths. To neaten the ends and stop any fraying follow the pictures below using double sided sticky tape to create a point on one side and a neat hem on the other. (Double sided tape is your best friend when it comes to shaping ribbon!)
Sew the ribbons so they form loops along the top of your calendar. To do this I used 4 strands of matching embroidery thread and a blind stitch. Add bells to the points if you wish.
Find a stick or a pole to thread through the loops, fill up your calendar with goodies and enjoy!