I have been wanting to make an Advent calendar for awhile now but I wasn’t sure where to begin. Thanks to Pinterest I found my inspiration. I found a couple of Advent calendars that I really liked but they were not exactly what I was looking for. In the end, I combined what I liked about the Advent calendars and made one that I really liked.
I wanted something that the boys could use from year to year and that they would really enjoy. I have been trying some felt projects lately and the advent calendar tutorials that I used were made completely out of felt. I really liked the end product but this project took way longer than I had anticipated! It was definately worth it but I should have started it much earlier. I did cut a couple of corners because I was running out of time but it still turned out beautiful.
I found my Pinterest inspirations here at While Wearing Heels and here at Shannon Makes Stuff. They both have templates and some great ideas.
I started out by making a template for my Christmas tree. I did this freehand and it turned out surprisingly well as I am not great at drawing. I drew it on a piece of muslin that I had so that I could keep it as a pattern. You could probably draw half the tree and just place it on the green felt on the fold and cut it out. However, I ended up just laying my entire piece of muslin on the floor and drawing the entire tree. I needed that visual to see how it was all coming together.
Once I had my pattern I folded it in half and I placed it on the fold of my green felt and cut it out. My tree pattern had a flat top because my piece of muslin was not quite long enough. I just estimated that part when I cut out the felt but, even still, the top of my tree still had a flat spot. I had decided to put an angel on the top of the tree and her skirt hid the flat part so all was good.
Fold the pattern and place it on the fold of the green felt.
You can see where I needed to make an adjustment on the top of my tree because my pattern was too short.
Felt tree after I cut it out from the pattern.
Now that my tree was finished I set it aside. The next job was to begin the ornaments. This was really a trial and error thing. I cut out 25 white ornaments and 25 colored ornaments. I sewed one colored ornament to one white ornament. Eventually, the colored side will have the number and the white side will have the design. I left the top opened so that I could put a treat in each ornament for the boys. I just left the tip of the ornament opened and that really was not enough room. I would suggest leaving a little larger of an opening so that it’s not so hard to get the treat in and out of the ornament.
This opening was really not large enough and it was difficult to fill with treat.
I originally sewed each ornament together individually but they were not turning out very neatly. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist so I was not real happy with the ornaments so I decided to start again. What I ended up doing was tracing 6 ornaments on a sheet of white felt and pinning the white felt to a sheet of colored felt. I then stitched on the traced line of each ornament and ended up with 6 stitched ornaments on two sheets of felt. (NOTE: I ENDED UP USING WHITE THREAD AS MY TOP THREAD AND THEN A COLORED THREAD IN MY BOBBIN TO MATCH THE COLORED FELT. THAT WAY THE THREAD MATCHED EACH LAYER OF FELT INSTEAD OF HAVING THE WHITE THREAD SHOWING ON THE COLORED FELT.)
Stitched ornaments. I left the top open so that I could put treats in them for each day. You may want to leave a larger opening than I did.
I used a tracing pen that I purchased from the fabric store that is supposed to be easily removed with a damp cloth…supposed to be! I took a damp cloth and blotted it on the blue color from the fabric marker and it removed the blue color beautifully. I left the felt sitting on the ironing board overnight to dry (I may have used a bit too much water on the damp washcloth) and when I went to check on it in the morning the blue line was still gone but it was replaced with blue smudges along the edge of the ornaments! I then took a less damp cloth and very lightly blotted out the blue smudges. I had to do it a couple of times and while most of the blue did not show back through there was still a little bit that did. You will have to experiment with what works best for you in terms of tracing the pattern.
You can see the blue smudging on the bottom of the ornament.
Once I finished with removing as much as the blue smudges as I could I cut out each ornament close to the seams. I then cut a small slit in the top of the ornament so that I would be able to slip a length of red and white striped baker’s twine through it for hanging.
The next step that I did was to glue numbers to the front/colored side of each ornament. I ended up using those number shaped plastic refrigerator magnets as my templates and they were just the right size.
Used these refrigerator number magnets as templates.
I traced them right onto my glitter felt, cut them out and then used my hot glue gun to attach them to each ornament. Prior to applying the numbers (or any of the decorations) to the felt ornaments, I took my Sharpie marker and stuck it inside the opening to separate the two layers of ornaments. I was afraid that the two layers would get stuck together if the hot glue leaked through the top layer. Once I glued the number onto the ornament I just slid the Sharpie marker around to make sure that the two layers were not touching and then I set the ornament off to the side to dry.
Numbers traced onto glitter felt.
The next step was probably the hardest and most time consuming for me…decorating each ornament for each day. From my Pinterest inspiration found at Shannon Makes Stuff, the original instructions called for a different decoration for each day. She also provided a story to read along with the advent calendar for each day. The story would explain the significance of that day’s decoration. I, however, ended up not doing that. The original tutorial was beautiful and she gave you all of the templates. I tried to do them all but I just don’t have the patience to work with such tiny pieces of felt and glue. After awhile I decided to just choose several of the decorations and use each one a couple of times. Even though I didn’t do the story portion the boys were still very excited to see the deocorations that I did choose.
I cut out all of the felt first and then glued the pieces together. I then glued the final piece to the ornament in the same way that I did for the numbers above. Here are the ornament decorations that I used:
Once all of the ornaments were finished I strung a length of red and white striped baker’s twine through the cut that I had made in the top of the ornament and tied the string in a loop. I used this loop as the hanger for the ornament.
The next step was to add the buttons to my tree so that I could hang the ornaments on them. In the original tutorial she used hooks from a hook and eye set which I thought was a great idea and probably easier than what I did. All she had to do was hang the ornament from the slit cut into the top onto the hook and she was done. I, however, liked the look of the buttons and the baker’s twine so I opted to do it that way.
First, I laid out all of my ornaments on my tree and then used my black Sharpie marker to mark on the tree where each ornament needed to be attached. I then sewed on a button on that spot. I used a variety of buttons that I had on hand in my stash.
I marked the spots on the tree where the ornaments would be hanging.
Buttons sewn on the tree.
Once all of the buttons were sewn on I placed the tree, the angel and the tree trunk (the angel and tree trunk were cut from templates from the original tutorial) onto a large piece of white felt that I was going to be using as the background. I then pinned everything in place. I sewed on the tree trunk first, then the tree and then the angel. I folded the felt over an inch or so and sewed it in place so that I could use it as a casing for the dowel rod. My Husband cut a notch on either side of the dowel rod and then I used a red cording and tied it to the dowl rod inside the notches. The final project ended up being larger than I thought so it really only fit, barely, on the back of our front door.
Front of tree prior to advent.
This is what the advent calendar will look like once all of the ornaments are turned over.
I really like this advent calendar but you will definately need to allow yourself enough time to finish the entire thing. I just didn’t have enough time or patience before Advent started to work with those tiny pieces of felt, so I just wasn’t going to have enough time to do the entire calendar just like the original tutorial. The biggest corner I cut was not using all of the ornament decorations. Part of me wishes that I would have just followed the tutorial exactly but, since I was pressed for time, I am alright with only having used a few of the decorations and then repeating them on more than one ornament.
For next year I was thinking of making some felt presents to stick on the background under the tree for Christmas morning. I was also thinking of making some stars to stick onto the background to make the tree look like it has the night sky behind it.
We shall see what next year brings! I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas and has a Happy New Year!!