Ho ho sew! How to make an advent calendar

How to sew an advent calendar

Make the days running up to Christmas even more exciting with this merry and bright house advent calendar! Sewing your own is a great way to create a new family heirloom that will last for years and become a firm favourite part of childrens’ festive rituals! This free sewing tutorial was created by Rebecca Reid – our ever-so-clever Technical Editor, and it’s one of our favourite festive sewing projects from the Simply Sewing archives.

Read on to find out how to sew your own DIY advent calendar, including scrap-busting pockets in pretty patterned fabrics with space in each one for a little treat.



How to make an easy-sew advent calendar

You will need:

  • Main fabric: 80x75cm (32x30in)
  • Window pocket fabric: see instructions for details
  • Wadding: 80x30cm (32x12in)
  • Felt: charcoal, two sheets 20x30cm (8x12in)
  • Felt: white, three sheets 20x30cm (8x12in)
  • Bondaweb: 40x90cm (16x35in)
  • Stranded cotton: green
  • Small red beads
  • Small button for doorknob
  • Dowel: 48cm (19in)
  • Eyelet: black
  • Ribbon to hang
  • Matching sewing thread
  • Advent calendar free sewing pattern

Materials used

We got the fabrics for our version from our local Hantex stockist:

  • Main fabric: Imprint by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery fabrics. Crossthread Pure. Ref: AGFIMP10454
  • Pocket fabrics:
    Festive by Jo Clark for Cloud9. Fairy Lights (ref: C9FES140233), Festive Peppermint Twist (ref: C9FES140506), Festive Snowflakes (ref: C9FES140702)
    Curiosities by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery fabrics. String Lights Carmin (ref: AGFCUR29133)
  • Felt: 1mm thick 100% charcoal and white felt from Wool Felt Company

Notes

Use a 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance, unless otherwise stated.
Download our Advent calendar free sewing pattern here

Get sewing: step-by-step

Cutting out the fabric

Step one Cut the main fabric into two pieces, 80x30cm (32x12in) each, for the front and back of the house. Cut two binding strips 4x26cm (15/8×101/4in) each, for the dowel casing.

Step two For each window pocket cut two squares 9x9cm (35/8×35/8in). You need to cut 23 pockets so use a variety of fabrics to make them. We used the house fabric to line the pockets but you can use the same fabrics for both the front and back of each pocket if you prefer.

Cutting out the felt

Step three Trace over all the numbers from the template then draw over the back of them so you have them traced in reverse.

Step four Place the bondaweb paper side up over the reversed numbers and trace over them.

Step five Iron the traced bondaweb to the felt, using charcoal for numbers 1-23 and white for number 24. Cut out all the felt numbers along the traced lines then remove the paper backing.

Step six Trace the roof snow and ground snow from the template. You need to trace two of each of these onto the bondaweb but one should be the mirror image of the other so turn the traced snow over and trace the reverse for the second piece. Press each of the snow pieces to the white felt and cut out then remove the paper backing.

Step seven Cut a 10x6m (4×23/8in) rectangle of charcoal felt for the door.

Making the window pockets

Step eight All the pockets are made in the same way and you can either appliqué the numbers on them so they are placed randomly or all in order. Decide which fabric you want to go where and which numbers to place on them before you start making them.

Step nine Lay the cut out felt numbers centrally on top of each piece of front pocket fabric and press into place.
Stitch your numbers in place carefully either by hand or machine.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial fig 1

Step ten Take the front and back of two pocket fabrics and place them right sides (RS) together. Stitch together all the way round the edge leaving a small gap along one side for turning.

Step 11 Clip corners then turn the pocket right sides out and press the turning gap under. Topstitch along the top edge of your pocket.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial step 2

Making the door

Step 12 Press then stitch the white felt number 24 to the felt door piece following the positioning guide on the template.

Step 13 Draw a circle for the wreath on your door using white pencil. Stitch around the circle using four strands of green stranded cotton in backstitch. Stitch small lazy daisy stitches around the circle to form the wreath. Stitch small red beads around the wreath to decorate. Sew the small button into position for the doorknob.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial step 3

Attaching the pockets

Step 14 Trace the outlines of the house (not including the snow) and cut it out. Place the template centrally on the wrong side (WS) of one of the house fabric pieces, draw round it and cut it out. Cut the other house fabric piece and the wadding to the same size using the template.

Step 15 Place one piece of cut out house fabric RS up and, following the template for positioning, place the windows and door onto the house measuring accurately to pin them into place so they run in straight lines.

Step 16 Stitch the pockets and door into place by topstitching just 2-3mm (1/16in) from the edge, down the sides and along the bottom.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial step 4

Making the dowel casings

Step 17 Take the dowel casing fabric and turn all edges of each strip under by 1.5cm (5/8in) all the way round. Press.

Step 18 Pin one piece of casing to the back piece of the house 3cm (11/4in) up from the bottom and 1.5cm (5/8in) from both sides. Machine stitch into place close to the edge almost all the way round, leaving one short end open.

Step 19 Repeat for the other casing strip but position this one 19cm (71/2in) down from the top of the house’s roof.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial fig 5

Assembling the house

Step 20 Lay the house back with casing attached RS down with the wadding on top then the house front with pocket windows and door attached RS up on top, aligning all edges.

Step 21 Take one binding strip and place it RS together down one side of the house front matching raw edges. Stitch in place all the way down the length of the house.

Step 22 Take the other strip and stitch down the other side of the house in the same way.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial fig 6

Step 23 Turn the binding strip over to the back of the house, turn the long edge to meet up with the line of machine stitching and top stitch into place.

Stitching the snow

Step 24 Take the roof snow pieces and place one over the top of the assembled house, bondaweb side down. Place the other behind the back of the house, bondaweb side up following the template for the positioning and making sure they encase the cut edges of the house. Press into place so they are bonded together.

Step 25 Topstitch the two snow pieces together all the way round close to the edge of the felt.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial fig 7

Bond and stitch the ground snow pieces to the bottom of the house in the same way.

Finishing off

Step 26 Cut the dowel in half then slip one length through each casing. Slip stitch the short side closed to hold them in place.

Step 27 Punch an eyelet in the top of the house in the centre of the roof and loop the ribbon through this ready to hang.

Fabric advent calendar tutorial fig 8

Hooray now your advent house is complete! Fill the pockets with small sweets or gifts with a special one in the door for Christmas eve. Don’t forget to share a photo of your finished advent calendar with us using the hashtag #simplysewingmag – we really would love to see!

And if you like this festive fun tutorial, come back and see us soon – we’ve got lots more quick and easy beginners sewing projects for Christmas planned for the next few weeks! Happy sewing everyone.