Instructions for making a large fabric Advent Calendar suitable for a care home
Rough dimensions when complete:
Height – 80 cm (not including the hanging squares)
Width – 60 cm
Pocket width – 9 cm
Pocket height – 11.5 cm
Space between rows of pockets – 3.5 cm
Rectangle at top which contains the embroidered words – 32.5 x 12 cm
To make your material Advent calendar, take your main piece of material the size you want to make it and lay right side up on the table. Lay over it your backing material (calico or anything cheap) so the right sides are together, and lay over this your quilting wadding. Pin around the edges, leaving the bottom narrow edge open. Set aside and, before sewing, make three or four material loops for the top.
To make the material loops, take a 25 cm strip of material. Fold the right sides together and sew the long edge. Turn it inside out. Cut it into three or four equal lengths and press. Top stitch each edge (optional). Fold each loop in half and pin into the top narrow side of your Advent calendar. You need to place them in between the main material and the backing with the loop side hanging down.
Sew the three sides. Trim the wadding up to the seam and turn inside out. It should now look like figure 1. Press and overstitch the edge (optional).
Now make your title piece. Cut a rectangle of material and calculate the number of letters and spaces on each line.
e.g. Field House (10 letters and a space)
Advent Calendar (14 letters and a space)
Think and measure how you are going to space the letters using a water-soluble pen and a ruler and centre each row. Draw the letters and embroider. I used chain stitch. You can do some appliqué to decorate (optional).
Appliqué this onto your Advent calendar using your sewing machine.
Now to make your pockets you need 24 – four rows of six pockets.
In the same way you made your loops, take a whole width of your material and fold the right sides together and sew a seam. Turn inside out and press your four rows. (If you want to strengthen them you can iron on some interfacing before you turn inside out.)
You now have four lengths of material which are much wider than your Advent calendar. You now need to do some maths. How big do you want your six pockets? Find the middle of your strip and draw a vertical line. Draw a similar vertical line on your Advent calendar. Now measure your pockets to fit the width of your calendar with equal spaces between the pockets which are folded. I found it easier to draw these vertical lines and then pin the folds. (see picture above).
Before you sew on the rows of pockets, embroider on your numbers.
Then calculate the spacing of your strips of pockets on your Advent calendar. I found it easier to draw on the horizontal lines so the pockets were evenly lined up. At this point you can finish off your bottom piece - trim it to the length you want it and tuck in and sew. Then sew your vertical lines first to attach your strips of pockets.
When you sew your horizontal lines you will be going through several layers of fabric with your folds, so take it slowly.
Then thread a stick through your loops. Add a matching ribbon and fill your pockets with love and prayers.
P.S If all this sounds just too difficult, another friend is using the 24 sheets of words but putting them into hessian bags with a gift – one bag for each day, presented in a large basket with a ribbon!