Christmas Advent Calendar 37


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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
How To Make A Christmas Advent Calendar

Free tutorial - how to make a large advent calendar

This year I decided that I didn't want the usual chocolate calendar or have to think about how to fill a different pocket with something imaginative, so I thought what better than to make a calendar of epic proportions that once made can be used year after year with no extra thought! The daily gift is simply a new decoration to add to the Christmas tree so that by the time you get to Christmas day, you are just adding the star to the top of a perfectly decorated tree.

What you will need:

1m Green Felt

Assorted scraps of felt/mixed colour pack

I cheated and bought a set of 1-25 felt numbers but you can cut them out yourself if you prefer.

Heavy Iron on interfacing approx. 40cm x 75cm

2 metres of 4oz wadding

Enough backing cotton to cover your chosen door (front and back) (Mine was a total of 185cm x 150cm =75cm width panel once folded in half)

Extra cotton for making pockets / door fixings (approx. half meter in total)

Elastic (approx. 2/3 - 3/4 the width of your door depending on how wide and stretchy it is)

Fabric Glue

3m Ribbon

How to make it:

The decorations:

I made my decorations by first cutting up 24 squares of paper 7cm x 7cm to draw my designs on. I then cut them out in a backing piece of felt (one piece that will take up the entire pattern size.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics planning felt xmas decorations
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics cutting christmas decorations

I then cut out and stuck on any extra parts I wanted to decorate my advent tree pieces. For eyes and small dots, I rubbed a small piece of felt until it started to fluff up then rolled it into a tight ball before fixing in place with fabric glue. I flipped my pieces over and glued the ribbon to the back. I used 12cm ribbon for each decoration.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics glue felt christmas ornament decoration reindeer
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics gluing ribbon to felt christmas decorations

To make them stiffer and more durable, I used heavy iron on interfacing to back them with. For those with straightforward shapes, I lined them up on a strip, but for those that had pieces that came up higher than the ribbon attachment, I cut a notch out for the ribbon.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics  ironing on interfacing christmas decorations
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics iron on interfacing cut out

Once bonded, I trimmed off the excess. You may find you need to re-iron again if the edges aren't quite sealed. If you are feeling a little artistically challenged, I have put close up photos of each one at the bottom in case you need to cheat and print the picture to use as a rough guide for your template.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt christmas decorations

I made the star for the top of the Christmas tree a little differently to make it stand out more. I cut out 2 pieces of felt and a piece of 4oz wadding in the same shape and size. I then trimmed off 1/2cm from each side of the wadding so it would sit comfortably just inside.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics making christmas tree padded felt star

I lined up the wadding between the 2 pieces of felt and pinned some ribbon in so that it would come out either side of the top star point. Using an over edge (overcast) sewing machine foot. I sewed a zigzag stich all around the sides of the star to seal it closed.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics attaching ribbon to xmas tree star
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing felt xmas star

How to make the Christmas Advent Calendar Door Panel:

First, you need to decide how big your door is / how much of the door you want to cover, so go off with your tape measure to decide. My overall panel was 185cm height by 150cm width so once folded in half would be 75cm width (after seams 1/4 inch seams, approx. 74cm). I made up my panel from 3 different patterns - Holly on top, stars in the middle and poinsettia on the bottom. This means that to keep my 185cm height I had to add seam allowances to allow for the joins.

I used:

w150 x h12cm holly

w150 x h40cm poinsettia

w150 x h137cm stars

(-1/4inch for top and bottom seams for all = approx. 185cm)

I simply turned the pieces right side together, pinned them then have sewn the seams using a 1/4 inch seam guide foot to end up with one giant cotton panel piece. You may wish to finish your raw edges with pinking shears to increase durability.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics attaching christmas cotton top bottom

I made myself a xmas tree template from sticking some newspaper pages together. My tree was 80cm high and 70cm wide. I folded my paper in half down the height and drew half a tree to get a symmetrical look when I cut it out.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics cutting xmas tree felt

I made a trunk from brown felt 17cmx17cm, and making sure I tucked the top of the trunk just under the bottom of the Christmas tree, I attached it to the backing cotton with just a top stitch as felt doesn't fray. Position your tree centrally on half of your cotton width (the other half will be your backing against the door).

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics fixing christmas tree felt
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics topstitching christmas felt tree

Next, you want buttons all over your tree to be able to hang your advent xmas tree decorations on. I wanted mine to match and yet look like baubles all over, so I used 23mm self cover buttons and the poinsettia cotton.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics cloth covered fabric buttons
Self cover cloth button tool tutorial sewing bee fabrics how to make your own

I wanted my buttons to have a random placement look so I scattered my felt decorations all over the tree to see where to attach the buttons while leaving enough space. Sew them on by hand.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing on cloth buttons
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics random buttons

Next, you need to make somewhere to keep all your decorations for each day, so I made my pockets as 2 side strips. I took 2 pieces of the holly fabric in 110cm length and 10cm width. I hemmed the right side on one and the left on the other.

I then pressed the other edges under and stitched them directly on to the panel, so that the hemmed edge remained free as the pocket opening. I lined the top up with the top holly piece so that it looked like a continuous border, and centred the other piece so it would sit down the side once the cotton was folded.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics hemming the pockets
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics fixing pocket material to the cotton

Next, I marked both pieces at equal intervals to make 12 pockets, then just sewed straight lines through the holly piece and underlying star cotton to divide them.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing pocket dividers

I did the same for a large pocket at the bottom with a poinsettia piece that was 70cm x 40cm, by hemming the top, turning under the other edges, then stitching it on to the bottom part of the main panel.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics hemming bottom pocket
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing on bottom pocket

This large pocket if left as it was would gape, so I decided to sew a mini-pocket into the centre so that the rest remained free for putting stocking fillers / xmas books in. I placed the star decoration over the centre of the pocket to make sure it would fit, then pinned a square around it to sew (leaving the top open to get your star in!).

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics adding pocket divider for star

Next I made the door fittings. I used 4 pieces of cotton h15cm x w12cm, and folded each in half vertically. I sewed close one short edge and the long edge and turned it back right side out. I also cut a piece of elastic that was approx 2/3 - 3/4 of the width of the door (you need it to fit snuggly when stretched so that it holds its position).

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics making door fixings

I took the whole panel and folded that in half vertically with right sides together, then pinned all around the top and side. I spread the door fixing pieces along the top seam, so the bulk of it was on the inside and the raw edge on the outside. I attached the elastic (also pointing inwards) in one of the side seams about 1-2 inches down (other side will need hand stitching later or the elastic pull will make it very difficult to quilt).

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing right side together

I attached the sides with a 1/4 inch seam then turned it back right side out. Your door fixings should now all be pointing outwards.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics sewing up top and sides of panel
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics door fixings right side out

To get the perfect size wadding, I laid the panel over the wadding and cut the wadding just slightly smaller, then put it inside through the opening at the bottom.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics measuring perfect fit wadding

I smoothed out all the surfaces, then with lots of pins, I attached the 3 layers together. As it was so big, I rolled some up as I went, but made sure to only ever roll up far enough away from the secure pins so that it would not make the fabric move.

I quilted the layers together by doodling around the stars with a free motion sewing machine foot on the centre panel.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics pinning layers together
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics free motion quilting

I tucked the bottom raw edges inside and sewed closed with a top stitch, then carried this stitch on around the whole piece. I changed thread colours for the different sections to make it less obvious

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics quarter inch guide seam edge
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics finishing top stitching the edges

I hand stitched the loose end of the elastic into the other side seam, then folded all the cotton flaps over the elastic and sewed a straight stitch across, making a channel for the elastic to move freely inside. The cotton pieces will sit over the top of the door and the elastic around it above the top hinge.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics making elastic channel door fixing
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics  christmas door fixing back

Lastly, I glued my numbers on to all the pockets.

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics glueing on the numbers 1-24

Then I hung it up on the door ready to start the count down to Christmas!

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics finished christmas advent calendar
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics finished advent calendar with xmas tree decorations

Close Up Photos of Advent Decorations

Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt bauble
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt bell
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt christmas pudding
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt candle
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt candy cane
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt chrismas tree
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt holly
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt cracker
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt bow
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt gingerbread man
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt mistletoe
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt fairy
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt mitten
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt penguin
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt sheep
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt poinsettia
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt reindeer
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics fet polar bear
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt robin
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt snowflake
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt snowman
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt snowy house
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt stocking
Advent calendar sewing bee fabrics felt present

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to linda@sewingbeefabrics.co.uk

Happy Sewing!


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37 thoughts on “Christmas Advent Calendar

  • Mary

    This is just darling! I love the decorations, they are so colorful! I am not sure that I would be able to draw them freehand so I might try to trace yours 🙂
    I have been wanting to make an advent calendar for years, my grandson will be 4 this Christmas so I think he would really enjoy this!

  • Lisa // Cucicucicoo: Eco Sewing and Crafting

    Oh my goodness, this is just such a wonderful idea! The little ornaments are just adorable, and I love the idea that kids can get excited about every day without always expecting candy or a little gift. And I know that my kids are always a little sad when we’ve hung up all our tree ornaments, so this is like extending the fun of decorating the Christmas tree all month long! Fantastic! Pinning and sharing! 🙂 Lisa

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That really is so kind of you. I’d love to see your stockings. They are still on my “I should prob make those” list!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      That sounds like a great collaboration! Plus it will be even more of a family festive feel to it if you have 2 generations putting love and effort into it.

  • Anna C.

    This looks amazing! I was in the hunt for a project like this! This will be my first Christmas as a wife so I want to bring the Christmas spirit to the max this year! 😀

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      How exciting! Now would definitely be a good time to start your own new family Christmas traditions! If you do make something like this, I’d love to see how it comes out

  • Anna Fraser

    You are one seriously creative lady! and I’m afraid you put my sewing skills to shame.

    I really love the tree decorations, they are so cute!
    Great tutorial … I may just give it a go. What have I got to lose!
    Anna x

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      A couple of years ago my sewing was like that too. It’s amazing what you can do when you decide to teach yourself something isn’t it. There are so many tutorials online that it’s easy to learn 😀

  • Kate +

    I’m planning to make an advent calendar this year so this post was really helpful. Not sure mine will be quite as complex as yours though… I’m not very gifted in the sewing department! The finished result looks amazing. And lovely to think your family can enjoy it for many years to come.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Just start small and you’ll soon find your confidence and skills grow. It would be easy enough just to make the felt decorations and hang them on a real tree instead 🙂

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Thank you! You are so right. It really is a family time and handcrafted makes it feel so much more special as you know that person’s love, thought and effort went in to it.

  • Sarah Golding

    That is a lovely idea. You are so creative. My toddler would love it. Last year I bought lots of felt to make a tree for the door with decorations that he could rearrange as he liked but ran out of time, must do it this year

  • Claire Kane

    I’ve been collecting Christmas ideas on Pinterest for my niece and nephew. I may need to run this one by their parents though haha. It looks amazing! You explain it very well too.

    I think I might even just make that little sheep decoration for myself. How cute is he?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Just tell their parents it doubles up as a draft excluder and they’ll never have to try to rescue chocolates that have fallen down inside advent calendars with a sobbing child looking on again! If you do make the little sheep, I’d love to see how he comes out

  • Zoe Alicia

    Oh my gosh, the amount of effort in this has left me speechless. I can’t believe you handmade all of this! Well done, it’s incredible, and I love how after the effort, you can use it again and again x

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Thank you,that’s very kind of you. I’m hoping it will be something that my children grow up with, getting excited about it every year. So much more fun than the little chocolate ones!

  • Vikki Holness

    I seriously wish i had your sewing skills because this Christmas advent calendar looks great. Unfortunately i don’t so i’ll have to stick with my homemade card one instead or bribe the grandparents 😉 xxx