So, I looked for an Advent Calendar online for weeks. I tried to convince myself just to buy a poster with little flip panels. I tried. But I couldn’t find one I liked. So, I looked at fabric ones and they were far too expensive for me. In looking at them, I thought, “I can just make it myself.” So I did. And I got it on the first try! (You know how something as simple as rectangles on a flat surface somehow becomes this ridiculously difficult project that takes you 20 tries to get right? *cough* crayon wallet *cough*)
So, here is what you need:
1/2 yard of burlap or other backing material. (Let me tell you, or remind you if you already know, burlap is awful stuff to work with. If you or your kids have allergies, you may want to consider making a burlap free home. The stuff is that bad. Plus, trying to cut it straight and sew it straight is a special kind of torture. If you’d rather use something more friendly on your nose and sanity, grab some duck, upholstery, linen, anything heavier in weight. If you want to go the trendy route or you happen to have a ton of burlap sitting in your craft room, like me, then go ahead and use the burlap, but brace yourself for the fight.)
If you want the different fabric colors, like I have, grab 1/8 yard of 5 different fabrics. You can grab 5 fat quarters, but you’ll have lots of leftovers. (The fat quarter choice is awesome if you want to make multiple as gifts! You can get at least 3 calendars worth of pockets from 5 fat quarters.) If you want all one fabric, grab 1/2 yard of quilting cotton of your choice.
You’ll need a 1/2″ wooden dowel that is 18″ long.
You’ll also need something to hang it with. Ribbon, ric rac, yarn, raffia, whatever you want to use. (I had this wide gold ric rac left over from making cowbell bibs, so I decided to use it. Gold ric rac only has so many uses in the world.)
Gather your supplies and get to cutting. Remember that burlap will fray like a devil, so if you’re using it, you may want to give yourself a little extra room for error. Cut your backing 16″ x 34″. With your quilting cotton, you will need 5 strips 5″ x 22″.
On the top, you’ll want to make a little channel for the dowel to go through. I made mine about an inch.
Sew the side hem. (If you need to make it a little wider, you can. You’ve got a little wiggle room here. Don’t go crazy making 1″ hems, but if 1/4″ hems are making you want to scream, you can be a little more liberal with the size. I like the challenge of the small seam.)
You’ll do the same with the top edge of the pocket. Fold, press. Fold raw edge under, press. Sew. For the top edge, I did need to pin the hem on the far right side (the side sewn last) to keep everything together while sewing. Pin as needed.
One you get all your pockets sewn sides and top, you may notice that they aren’t all equal. (I did not measure out the 22″, I simply went with the width of the fat quarter, which can vary.) It isn’t a big deal. You’ll never notice. It is fine, I promise. Put your OCD away and press on. It’s cool. Part of the charm of the project. (Did that line help you? It always helps me to say my oddities are charming, rather than just off.)
Now, you’re going to put it all together! First, mark off the lines on the burlap or backing fabric of where the bottom of each pocket will go. I used a marker and it took forever to mark the burlap. Use chalk. I was too stubborn to get up and go get my chalk, but I should have sucked it up and done it anyway. From the bottom of your burlap, measure 6″ and put a line, 6″ above that- another line, 6″ above that-another line, 6″ above that- another line. See how that worked? You should have 4 lines marked on the burlap and the bottom is the final line
Pin the fabric like I have it in the picture above. Right side to backing, unhemmed side up. Pin the sides first. Then gather, tuck, pin, whatever all the way across. These pleats or gathers will add depth to your pockets to hold the little treats. Here is what I did: Ever 3″, I pinned and made sure there was a bit of extra fabric between the pins, then I folded those into pleats. If you aren’t cool with winging it like that, you’ll want a pleat or small gather at 1.5″ and then 3″ from that pleat, then 3″ from that pleat, then 1.5″ from the opposite side, then 3″ from that. See why I just opted to wing it?
Once you’re pinned, sew it down. I sewed closer to the edge first, the sewed another line a little further in. This is the inside of the pocket. Perfection is not necessary.
From the edge, measure 3″. Now sew that line. If it isn’t exact, it really is okay. You just want 5 little pockets across. They’ll be about 3″ each. If you’re picky, measure. If you’re like me, you’ll measure, hold a finger on that spot (as opposed to actually marking it), and sew about on that line.
You’ll mark 3″ from the opposite side and sew there. Then 3″ from each of those lines (one of each side) and you’ll have 5 pockets. This remind me of those brain teasers they’d give you in grade school. “If you want to make 5 pockets, and the outer edges are already sewn, how many lines will you have to sew?” (The answer is 4, if you’re not so great at that sort of thing.)
Do this for all the pockets. Now, take a deep breath. You’re almost done!
(This is an awful picture, so if you Pin this, don’t use this picture, I beg you.) Now, stuff each pocket with little treats. You can put little cards in them with Bible verses on them or different Advent activities to do. I just stuffed mine with candy. 4 pieces of candy per pocket, one for each kid. You could also number your pockets if you wanted to. I opted not to number them, but you can number yours if you want. I think these would make adorable gifts.
As always, do what you want with this tutorial. Make them for yourself, give them as gifts, sell them- whatever. Just share the free and point other crafters back this way for the tutorial. Free crafting for all.