Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Stuart Hillard's Christmas collection with The Craft Cotton Company this year is my favorite! It includes 5 prints, stockings, gift bags and this advent calendar panel. This is the 4th advent calendar I have made from the Craft Cotton Company and this one is my favourite. I love the bright Christmas colours but I also love the style of the pockets. Although a little fiddly I found it took less time than sewing the pockets on individually or making individual stockings like the others I have done.
I have filmed myself making this one so I can show you how super easy it is. If you are like me you might not need help with certain parts of the process or you might not be able to sit and do it in one go so I have put estimated times on each section.
YOU WILL NEED
Backing Fabric 48cm x 39cm
Batting 48cm x 39cm
Rotary Cutter and Ruler
Iron & Ironing Board
1 - Cut out your panel - Cut along the dashed lines. You should have one panel and 5 strips of numbers. NOTE do not cut the numbers out individually. I have used the edge trimmings to make loops to hang it with so keep them to one side.
2 - Batting - Cut some batting the same size as your panel. It is around 48cm x 39cm. I happened to have an offcut left from a quilt that worked perfectly. Pin it to your panel. (from 4 mins 50 sec on video)
3 - Baste - You need to baste the panel to the batting so you can do this anyway you like. I have sewn around the rectangle numbers and free motioned over the Merry Christmas. (from 5 mins 40 sec on video)
4 - Press - With the strips of numbers you need to press a 1/4" seam allowance on the top and bottom and a double 1/4" hem on the short sides. (from 11 mins 20 sec on video)
5 - Sew on Numbers - First sew a straight stitch on the top hem. You will notice that the strips of numbers are longer than the panel - don't panic. Match each vertical pocket edge and pin into place. Sew, back stitching at each end. (from 14 mins 40 sec on video)+++
6 - Pleat - Match up each end and pin down. Now you need to make box pleats by turning into the sew line you have just made. This makes much more sense on the video around 16 minutes in. The bottom edge should now be flat and ready to sew. Straight stitch down the short edges and bottom edge.
7 - Hanging Loops - You could use ribbon but I have used some of the offcuts to make hanging loops. They are 6" long and folded in half. I have basted them around 2.5" apart.
8 - Add backing - Cut the backing the same size as the panel. I have used the gift tag fabric from Stuarts collection. If you buy a pre cut fat quarter pack they are often half a yard and won't be long enough however if you buy from a shop (like me!) that cuts the fat quarters to order in the UK they will be half a metre and big enough to back your calendar. Pin right sides together and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around but leave a gap to turn it out. (from 23 minutes on video)
9 - Finish - Turn your calendar out, push out the corners, I used a knitting needle, and press. (from 28 mins on video) Top stitch around the edges, ensure you catch the opening and you are done!
In the summer I was featured in Quilt Now magazine as part of their Story of My Quilt competition. I was lucky enough to win a place on a workshop with Stuart himself to make a surprise project. The day after making this calendar I attended the workshop with Stuart Hillard and we made this same calendar.
We made it with a twist though so I thought I would share the extras we added in case you are feeling a bit more adventurous. All the extra bits were from fat quarters but it ends up being slightly taller than half metre. If you order the fabric from me or any where else that offers long quarters, a half metre and long quarter (cut in one piece) will be plenty for the backing and could also be used for some of the borders.
We sewed the pockets onto the panel before basting it to the batting.
We then added a flange border. This was new to me but I loved the dimension it gave. It is basically an extra flap in between the panel and the border. Using the longest part of a fat quarter cut four 1 1/4" strips of fabric. Iron them in half long ways and baste them close to the edge. Do the longest sides first and trim the excess.
Now for the outside border I used the candy swirls because they were not directional. Keep this in mind when you pick your border print because you will need to cut your fabric in the same direction. Cut four strips from one of your fat quarters full width and 2 1/2" wide. Sew the long edges on first using 1/4" seam allowance.
Press the panel and pin the batting on. The only basting we did was on the outside border and close to the edges.
We also added some bunting style flags to the bottom. We used freezer paper as a template which is a fantastic quilting tool if you haven't used it before. Cut your desired sized template in freezer paper. The beauty of freezer paper is that it can be ironed on and peeled off up to around 10 times. You can do it on the front of the fabric and see through it so you can easily fussy cut. Cut around it, peel off and reuse.
Make your flags in the usual way, remember to trim the points before you turn them out and press them. Baste them to the bottom edge of your panel. I made three but some others in the group made 5 and they looked fab. I think I will add some bells or pom poms to the points to add a bit more fun too.
Instead of adding hoops to hang the calendar, you could add a tube for a dowel to feed through. Do this by cutting an 8" x 17" piece of fabric. Double hem the short edges. Sew the long edges together with right sides together, turn out and press with the seam to the centre. Sew this onto the back panel about 1" from the top along the two long edges.
Instead of bagging out your calendar on the side edge you can do a neater trick to keep the opening hidden on the back. Make your backing fabric an inch or so taller than it needs to be and cut it in half. Sew it back together again but leave a gap in the middle to turn it out. Press the seams open. When you have sewn the front and back together, turn it out through this gap and hand stitch the opening to finish.