I have been having fun making these Dashwood Studio advent calendars from their Merry Little Christmas fabric range.
Claire asked me to make one up as a sample for the Pop Up Shop here in Witney, but each time a grandchild comes to visit and they see it, I get another request for one!
I am now up to number 4 and its only October!
I have learnt a few tips whilst making them, so have decided to share some simple instructions with photographs on making the panel and the quilting method I used.
Once made you can have fun, year after year, filling them with lots of little surprises!
1 x Dashwood Studio’s Merry Little Christmas Advent Calender Sewing Panel
50cm x 60cm of fabric for the back of the calendar (in this tutorial we have used an off cut of a fabric from last Christmas, but on the others we used a Kona Solid, available in a wide range of colours).
60cm x 50cm of wadding for the calendar – we recommend using fusible wadding to save time, and have used Vilene H650 in this tutorial. It is perfect for this project as you can fuse it to the front and back of the calendar and so avoid the need to quilt the layers together.
You will also need a doweling rod (42cm long) to hang your calendar (available at most DIY stores or wood merchants), or ribbon to create ties.
You can also buy all you need (except the doweling rod) as a kit at Prints to Polka Dots.
1. Cut the back section from your advent calendar panel following the outer edge of the red seam allowance.
2. Cut the pocket strips out of the other half of the panel, cutting around the outer edge of the ecru seam allowance.
3. Press over the seam allowance over along the top edge of each pocket strip.
4. Make a box pleat between each pocket by bringing the sides together to meet the dotted centre line and press into place.
5. Press the side and bottom seam allowances along each pocket strip.
6. Line each of the pocket strips up on the other half of the panel, using the printed coloured squares on the backing panel as a guide (the order of the pockets is up to you, as the idea of a calendar is to have to search for those numbers!).
Pin each pocket strip into place at the sides and through the middle of each of the pleats to form the pockets.
7. Stitch the pocket strips down where pinned (outside vertical edges and vertical seams that make up the pockets) – don’t forget to back stitch as those little hands will put stress on these seams!
8. Refold the pleats and press the pockets, then pin into place, making sure the pockets are straight and the bottom corners of each pocket are touching the neighbouring pocket corners.
9. Stitch along the bottom of each pocket strip.
9. You will now have a completed panel
My Method for Turning the Panel into a Hanging Advent Calendar
1. Measure panel and cut backing fabric to size
2. Lay the backing fabric down, so you are looking at the right side. Place the panel on top so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, you will be looking at the back of the panel.
3. You are now going to sew the two layers together along the left, right and bottom edges (NOT the top). IMPORTANT, start your sewing 3cm down from the top of one side (starting 3cm down will create the gap for the doweling to eventually go through).
Turn inside out (it should look like pillowcase)
4. Cut a piece of wadding the same size as the backing fabric to go in between the panel and backing fabric. (I used Vilene – Fusible Fleece 3 Fusible on Both Sides H650 as this does not have to be stitched through to hold in place).
5. Insert the wadding into your ‘pillowcase’ and get rid of any lumps (this is a bit like stuffing a duvet into its cover)!
6. Iron both sides of the cotton fabric, so that the wadding fuses on both sides
7. Topstitch along the sides and bottom excluding the 3cm left for the dowling on one side (the top edge will still be unsewn).
8. Make a loop for hanging using ribbon, fabric or bias binding folded in two and stitched. I cut a length the same size as the pole. But it is really personal choice – if you make your own loop, have fun with those stitches on your sewing machine for an extra special touch!
9. Turn the raw edges along the top of the calendar inside the calendar and press and pin the folds into place.
10. Lay the advent calendar out in front of you. The next step is to push about 1cm of each end of the loop strip in between panel and backing to make your hanging loop. I measured in 3cm from each side. Pin into place, making sure your hanging loop isn’t twisted.
11.Top stitch along the top of the calendar, as you did for the sides and bottom.close to edge along the top
12. Measure down 2cm from the first row of top stitches at the top of your calendar. Sew another line of top stitches along the top, keeping 2cm down from your last line of stitches, to create the space needed for your doweling rod.
13. Cut a piece of doweling 42cm long and push this through casing.
14. Close the gap you left for the doweling and sew.
Just need to have fun filling the pockets!!!