Monday, May 9, 2011

How To: Make Your Own Felt Advent Calendar

quilted felt advent calendar

The rush of awesome Christmas projects that flood the craft blogs in December is agony to a procrastinator such as myself. Who has time to make treasures between making treats and presents and trying to make or keep traditions? No, if anything Christmasy is to be done in my house, it had best start now! Which is why I was thrilled to receive this beautiful advent calendar from my very talented sister this Christmas. It only needed to be quilted and bound, and it took me 5 months to  get around to it  do it! I asked Anna to answer a few questions for us:

quilted felt advent calendar beading detail

Q: Could you please tell us a little about your style?

A: "My style... I love small prints. I love needlepoint pillows. I love embroidered things... Pretty much if you find it at an estate sale for a woman in her 80's, I will like it. All of my friends refer to me as "an old soul," not because we believe in reincarnation, but more because I would fit in a lot better if I had been born at the beginning of the 20th century than at the end. I am currently obsessed with grey and white, as far my decorating goes, inspired by a fabulous shower curtain from Target."

Q: Where did you get the idea for this advent calendar? And where did you get the silhouettes from?

A: "I got the idea from a fabulous website that I discovered one day while browsing the web for free knitting patterns. I LOVE this industrious wife and mother's innovation and style. Totally me. Anyway, she had instructions for a similar calendar, and it made so much sense to me to make a reusable advent calendar, rather than the kind you throw away once the windows are all open! Her calendar can be found here. I am obsessed with felt, (Tacky Felt Projects, I call them...) and so this was right up my ally. I decided to take a different twist on it though, and instead of making the them snowing presents, I made it the best present of all... my precious Savior. I cannot draw for anything in the world, unless I have something to go off of, so I had to steal someone else's art."
Lydia's Note: Because she drew it, not printed it, it was not actually stealing. However, I searched for "free nativity scene silhouette" and came up with lots of copyright free options you could re-size and print for patterns.

Q: I love your choice of colors here, as always! But what made you think "Christmas! I think I'll use pastels!"?

A: "I'd love to say it was my idea, but it was pastels in the photo. But that is something that I loved about the photo. And of course, traditional doesn't quite come natural to me. My colors do vary from the photo... But I guess I was going for the rising dawn look? I don't know. Just took some felt and went with it!"

quilted felt advent calendar snap detail

Q: How did you put it together? (Materials, adhesives, did you have patterns for everything or just eyeball some of it?)

A: "I just looked at the photo and freehanded the characters onto a legal pad, cut out the paper pieces and pinned them onto black felt, then cut out the felt. I'm quite sure there must have been an easier way, but the long way is therapeutic. That's what I like to tell myself. Everything came from Michael's and Hobby Lobby, as (regrettably) we do not have better stores in Odessa! The felt is from Michael's. The background is just muslin from Hobby Lobby. I used textile glue (which was kind of difficult to use, because it doesn't spread well and is a pain to squeeze out of the bottle...) to affix the felt to the muslin. If I were ever to do something like this again, I'd explore different options. If can sew, maybe that would be a good option, but I personally didn't want the stitches to show... I was going more for the flannel-graph look! The beads came from Michael's. Just seed beads and nylon bead thread. The stars each have a snap on the back to attach with each day of December leading up to Christmas. I put beads on the stars to distract from the ugly stitching for the snaps, (and because color in unexpected places is always fabulous!)"

Lydia's Note: Other options for the felt might be hot glue or a fusible web like Wonder Under or Heat n' Bond.

quilted felt advent calendar back

General Instructions to make your own calendar follow after the jump:

Starry Dawn Advent Calendar

Beige muslin 20"x 20"
Felt in assorted pastel colors (shown here, pink, lavender, light blue, off-white, and white)
Black felt
1 1/2 yds. Wonder Under or Heat n' Bond
Seed beads in gold and assorted pastel colors
Gold sequins
Nylon beading thread
Sew on snaps (23 small, 1 larger)
Beige sewing thread
Thin quilt batting
Fabric for quilt backing
Fabric marker  with disappearing ink
  1. Download or draw an advent silhouette. Size and print on the computer. 
  2. Pin the printed pattern to your black felt and cut out the pieces.
  3. Cut out cloud and wave shapes from the pastel felt as strikes your fancy.
  4. Use your fusible webbing to adhere the felt to the muslin ground fabric in layers. Begin with the cloud shapes and end with the nativity scene.
  5. Cut 23 small star shapes from felt, (ours are about 1" tall) and one larger one (about 2").
  6. Use gold beads and sequins to embellish around manger scene.
  7. Sew male sides of snaps to stars reserving the large snap for the largest star.
  8. Embellish stars with pastel beads.
  9. Sandwich quilt batting between muslin and backing. Hand baste to hold in place. 
  10. Mark swirls to quilt with fabric marker.
  11. Hand or machine quilt around the clouds, the swirly sky, and anything else you would like to.
  12. Trim edges evenly and stitch on quilt binding.

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