Making an Advent Calender

I am lucky to be in the position to see the advent panels from many of the fabric suppliers in the Summer months, which means I can order them ahead of time. Two weeks ago a bold of gorgeous advent panels arrived from Dashwood Fabrics. I have some new Junior Sewing Bees this year who will love making these up, but it is always good to have one ready-made for them to follow.

Most advent panels will be exactly like this – so if the one you have bought is a little different, the process is likely to be the same.

Panels generally come with instructions written on them. Following these instructions will get you to the stage of the panel sewn-up with no wadding or backing. Normally the panel is split into two parts, one that has the background of the panel and the other which has the pockets ready to be cut out on it. For the pockets, depending on the design of your panel you will cut out a strip of pockets or a single pocket. For my 2018 Dashwood panel, I had 5 strips of pockets to cut out. Read the instructions carefully so that you cut around the right lines.

Once your pockets are cut out, the normal next step is to iron down a hem on the top and bottom of the pocket or pocket strip and then go on and sew them he down on the top of the pockets or pocket strips. Next, the fold in the pocket needs to be ironed in place. For a single pocket, all that may be needed is a hem ironed down on each side of the pocket (meaning all sides are now folded over with the top one also sewn down). If you have a strip of pockets as I did, you will need to create box pleats between each of the pockets (as seen below) and then the ends are simply turned under.

Whichever way you need to iron the pockets, the next stage is to pin them on the other background piece and sew around them (side-bottom-side).  If you are using pocket strips, you will also need now to sew a line to create divisions between the pockets on your strips. This is quick and easy to do and there is a printed line to follow.

With the panel now complete with the pockets on the background, you can now trim around the background as directed in the instructions.  It is important to keep the panel as large as possible when you trim it as it will become smaller again when it is completed.

To give the calendar more body I used fusible wadding to iron onto the back. I only ever use fusible wadding for small projects, like bags, purses and calendar. It is pretty useless for larger projects. Once the wadding is ironed onto the back of the calendar use this combined piece as a template to cut out fabric for the back of the calendar. I used a Dashwood Flurry in Cream as it is in the same colour range as the panel itself.

At this point, I also added in some ribbon to create loops to hang the calendar from. I used four 8″ strips of 3/4″ ribbon. I fold them in half and placed them equidistant along the top of the calendar with the loop/fold pointing inwards and down onto the calendar (opposite to the way you may think they need to go). The backing fabric is then placed on top, with right sides together, and then sewn around with a small gap left for turning. The calendar is then turned the right way out, pressed and then topstitch all the way around, tucking-in and closing-up the turning gap.

Voila!  We are ready to pop in some chocolate coins for each day of Advent.

Doodle Groups – What we have learnt..

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a Doodle Fiesta going on in a little part of the internet. This internet-based event was built upon the GillyMac Doodle Challenge that ran for 6 weeks over the Summer. In the Summer over 150 doodle novices put pencil to paper and over 6 weeks learnt 30 different doodles and many went on to follow my lead and sew them up into pictures.  The success of the doodle challenge meant that nobody wanted to leave it until next August for another challenge, and so the October (two weeks) Doodle Fiesta idea was born.

The reason we are doodling is to improve our understanding of doodle shapes so that the doodling movement becomes effortless. This takes time and practise, but once you have a few doodles learnt well, applying them using the sewing machine and darning foot is far far easier. The end goal is to increase your repertoire of free motion patterns which you feel secure in applying to your quilts.

For the Doodle Fiesta Event, instead of learning new doodles, I wanted to share how the same doodles (learnt in the Summer) could be grouped to provide a totally different look. For each of six days last week, a new doodle group was published and the doodlers got busy practising them. For this week, they are sewing up those doodle groups with great success.

The key points which have been learnt over the Doodle Fiesta.

  • Doodles can be combined into groups and layers to provide more interest than a single doodle.
  • Grouping doodles of different intensities works best eg. avoid using all doodles with lines close together or far apart, instead using a mix works well
  • Groups and layers are made up of the doodles you know. Whilst they look complicated they can be broken down into known parts.
  • Creating shapes to doodle within and around adds a simple new element to showcase your doodles from.
  • Doodling is free and provides the BEST training for free motion sewing – keep doodling

Our next doodle meet-up will be motifs for Christmas… nothing complicated … single line doodle shapes that can be learnt and used on paper or on fabric ~ this will start on 10th December and run for 5 days. Everybody is welcome to join – watch out on this blog, subscribe to the GillyMac YouTube Channel or ideally join our facebook group – ‘GillyMac Doodle Challenge 2018‘.