How to make a DIY fabric advent calendar that your kids will love

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How to make a DIY fabric advent calendar  

Hi Creative Mamas! I am so excited to share with you a wonderful way to turn fabric scraps into an amazing DIY fabric advent calendar for this Christmas!

If you have fabric scraps piling up from previous projects this is the perfect way to re purpose and up cycle all of those fabric left overs.

If you have kids, grand kids, nieces or nephews you will certainly be super popular, the kids will love this advent calendar with pockets!

To create a home full of Christmas cheer you can make a Christmas Wish Jar for the kids so that they can fill the jar with their Christmas wishes.

diy fabric advent calendar using fabric scraps

I will show you a step by step tutorial on how to make an easy advent calendar made out of fabric scraps and applique patterns.

You can download your Free Printable Numbers Template from the from the Free Resource Library by completing the form under the Materials List.

How do you make an advent calendar that your kids will love?

In my experience kids will love anything that we present to them in an exciting way! An advent calendar is the perfect way to get them all enthusiastic about the beautiful spirit of Christmas and they will be expecting their little surprises that are hidden inside the pockets!

Also I have noticed that if the advent calendar is a bit bigger the kids tend to get more excited about it because there is more room for presents and treats inside the fabric pockets πŸ™‚ Making a fabric Christmas Angel is a great way to further decorate the calendar as well.

Attention Grandmas: A fabric advent calendar is a great gift to make for your grand kids and give it to them by the end of November.

You can fill it with little surprises inside the pockets and include little love notes to every grandchild. It’s the perfect way to be present with the grand kids even if you are not in the same household or city, or country!

The Christmas DIY Fabric advent calendar tutorial will show you how to make:

  • A fabric advent calendar with pockets
  • A fabric advent calendar using upcycled fabric scraps and a coffee sack
  • A fabric advent calendar with pockets
  • A reusable fabric advent calendar
  • A fabric advent calendar wall hanging

This tutorial uses applique as the main technique but you can explore mixing applique with other sewing craft techniques such as quilting and embroidery. Check out this great Beginners Guide to sewing crafts for inspiration.

How  do you make an advent calendar pocket

This tutorial will show you how to make fabric pockets for the days preceding Christmas. In this case the pockets are all made from fabric scraps and they are sewn as one piece to the base fabric.

Which number do you start with in an advent calendar?

The Christmas advent calendar starts with the number 1 and it goes all the way to number 24 to celebrate the days before Christmas.

Advent derives from the word coming in Latin. I like to remember this because when I was little I used to find those weeks before Christmas super exciting.

I feel that by making a fabric advent calendar with big pockets for my kids I can sparkle a little bit of that anticipation and excitement among them and it makes me happy!

How many pockets does an advent calendar have?

The calendar has 24 pockets, one for each day of December that precedes Christmas. You can fill them with treats for each child in the family or take a more random approach. I like to have assigned pockets for each child to make sure they all get a fair share πŸ™‚

DIY fabric advent calendar Tutorial

Please note that I made this calendar during a period of 2 afternoons and the weather kept changing which means the photos have very different tones depending on what Auckland weather was doing at the time.

Excuse the difference in tones, the fabrics are always the same but they look so different from picture to picture πŸ™‚

Be sure to check out the Adhesive felt Christmas templates for kids {FREE} so that you can get the kids involved in gift wrapping and making their own little Christmas gift tags and decorations using these simple self adhesive felt templates.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Materials and equipment

This tutorial is long and detailed so that you can get the most out of the process! If you would rather have a day by day action challenge on how to make your DIY Fabric Advent Calendar register for the Advent Calendar Challenge here!

Want to have the whole tutorial in a neat tidy Binder that you can print out? Check out this awesome Guide! 

Christmas Advent Calendar 5 Day Challenge Guide (40% OFF)

Step 1: Choosing the fabric for the advent calendar pockets

For the base you will need a piece of hessian fabric. I bought mine but you can easily re purpose an old coffee sack or potatoes sack if you get access to those!

Choose your fabrics for the pockets. Take into consideration fabrics that will look nice once they are combined with the hessian base fabric. Make sure they are 100% cotton since we will use iron fused appliques to it and it needs to withstands a very hot iron.

Cut 4 pieces of 11 inches by 26 inches. If you don’t have big enough scraps you can patch your scraps and make the pieces to this measurements.

If using a coffee sack unpick it and lay it flat on your working table. Cut the coffee sack fabric or the hessian fabric to measure 41 inches by 30 inches. this will be the base for the advent calendar.

You will have 4 lines of pockets in your calendar.

 fabric scraps

Step 2

Fold the fabric wrong sides touching each other.

making the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

Pin the edges and sew a straight line. Leave both ends open.

making the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

Do the same with all four pocket pieces.

making the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

Once you have sewn the straight line manipulate the piece so that the seam end up in the middle of the pocket piece as shown in photo below.

sewing the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

Press the seams to one side with a hot iron.

ironing the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

My pockets look like this. For one of the pockets I didn’t have enough fabric so I made it by using 2 different fabrics. The printed fabric will be in the inside area of the pocket so it won’t show in the final calendar.

ironing the pockets for the fabric advent calendar

Step 3

Turn the fabric advent calendar pocket inside out through the open ends.

turning the advent fabric pockets inside out

Give it a really good press leaving the seam in the middle of the pocket. Mark the top and the bottom edge really well with the hot iron.

ironing the fabric pocket for the fabric calendar

This is how the pockets should look like. I like these colors in combination with my hessian backing.

 fabric pocket for the fabric calendar

Step 4: Applique Fabric on advent calendar pockets

This is my favorite step in the whole process! Using these adhesible fusing sheets makes it super easy to create the applique numbers.

fabric applique

Download the Christmas Advent Calendar Numbers Applique Template (available in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY) by filling out the form below and trace the numbers.

Note that the numbers need to be traced in a mirrored way because you will applique it on the wrong side of the fabric.

Trace the numbers from the Printable Template onto the paper side of the iron on adhesive sheet. I made the template numbers in solid black so that you can easily see through the iron on paper sheet.

You need to have number combinations all the way from 1 to 24 πŸ™‚ If you are like me you will get a bit confused but don’t worry! I did 1 to 10 and appliqued that batch choosing my fabric scraps. Then I worked my way up from there 3 numbers at a time.

tracing the fabric applique

This is the time in which you choose your fabric scraps. I love this part because you can choose tiny pieces that you love or bigger pieces and just use the color bit that you most like out of the whole pattern πŸ™‚ It’s really a lot of fun!

I have chosen fabrics that mean something to me. The red flower fabric I bought it in china when I lived there for a few years, he blue one I bought it with my mom in Hawaii a few years back and the pink stripe one I got it for my daughter’s dress. All left over fabric from previous projects πŸ™‚

fabric scraps

Place the traced numbers on top of your fabric scraps making sure that you are fusing the part of the fabric that you want.

fabric applique on fabric scraps

Press with a super hot iron but without any steam. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for this step. Press for a few seconds and then release and repeat again until the paper fusing is totally stuck to the fabric.

ironing fabric applique on scraps

It should look like this.

fabric applique on scraps for christmas fabric advent calendar

Repeat this process with all your different fabrics to achieve all the number combinations.

fabric applique on scraps for christmas fabric advent calendar
fabric applique on scraps for christmas fabric advent calendar

Step 5: Sewing the pockets on the fabric advent calendar

Using your fabric marking chalk mark 1 inch away from each end of the pocket pieces.

making fabric pockets for fabric christmas advent calendar

Also mark lines every 4 inches. This will create the 6 separate pockets once they are sewn.

making the chalk marks on  fabric pockets for fabric christmas advent calendar

Draw the lines the whole way through so that it makes it easier to set the applique in the right place. Don’t worry because the chalk lines will rub off.

making the chalk marks on  fabric pockets for fabric christmas advent calendar

DIY fabric advent calendar Tutorial RECAP

By now you should have:

  • Cut the base hessian fabric
  • Cut, sewn and marked all four lines of pockets
  • Traced and fused all numbers on fabric scraps (from 1 to 24)

Make sure you download your FREE Applique Numbers Template by filling out the form below

applique fabric numbers on advent calendar

Step 6: Applique fabric scraps on advent calendar pockets

Cut around the fused numbers following your traced lines.

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Place the numbers in the desired position

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

When it comes to tricky numbers such as 4, 6, 8 and 9 you need to make an incision in the middle of the number. To do this simply fold the number, make a cut and then follow the inside traced line, easy!

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Once you have cut all the numbers and you are happy with the placement simply peel of the fusing paper. It will leave a glue residue on the back of the fabric.

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Press in place with a hot non steamy iron. Press in intervals of 6 seconds aprox until its fully fused to the backing fabric.

ironing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

The fused numbers should look like this πŸ™‚

ironing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket
ironing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Here are all my numbers nicely fused πŸ™‚

ironing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Step 7: Sewing the applique numbers of the advent calendar

Now its time to sew around your fused numbers so that they are set in place forever and ever and this calendar can be part of many many Christmases to come. This advent calendar is so awesome that it will be a heirloom on your household πŸ™‚

sewing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Sew around the edges with a regular thread and a regular stitch length. You can go around it once or you can sew a few times around the number, its up to you and what effect you like πŸ™‚

sewing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

sewing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

This is how mine looks so far! How does yours look?

sewing the iron on fusing applique on fabric advent calendar pocket

Step 8: Sewing your DIY fabric advent calendar

Fold the top and bottom edges towards the wrong side of the calendar by 3 inches. This will be the hems.

diy fabric advent calendar

Sew a straight line using a zig zag stitch. I sewed from the front because I wanted to make sure that I was happy with the way it looked on the right side πŸ™‚

diy fabric advent calendar

This is how mine looks like πŸ™‚

diy fabric advent calendar

Place the 4 pocket pieces with all the appliqued numbers on top of the base hessian fabric.

diy fabric advent calendar

ok, now its time to sew the pockets to the base hessian fabric. Pin the 4 pocket lines in place. Divide them evenly and make sure there is enough space in between them to place the goodies for the kids.

diy fabric advent calendar

Sew the side edges of all 4 pocket pieces. You won’t see this seam its just to set the pockets in place.

diy fabric advent calendar

Using the same zig zag stitch that you used for the top and bottom hems sew a straight line to attach the pocket piece to the hessian fabric along the bottom edge of the pocket piece.

diy fabric advent calendar

This is how it should look like!

diy fabric advent calendar

Using your quilting ruler re draw the chalk lines every 4 inches. These will be great to sew in the right places.

diy fabric advent calendar

Using the same zig zag stitch sew the pocket divisions following the chalk marked lines.

diy fabric advent calendar

diy fabric advent calendar

This is the base of the advent calendar finished! Make sure to trim the edges on each side. Leave 1 inch on each side in order to finish it with a nice binding tape which is the next step πŸ™‚

diy fabric advent calendar

Cut 2 strips of fabric 39 inches long by 4 inches wide. I had enough fabric to use the same by sewing pieces together but you can also have a combination of different fabrics.

Place the binding tape right side touching the right side of the calendar. Make sure that the tape edge is on the edge of the pockets so that it will cover the stay stitch that was made initially to hold the pocket piece in place.

binding the edges of the fabric advent calendar

Pin in place and sew.

binding the edges of the fabric advent calendar

Turn the advent calendar to the wrong side and fold the binding tape in itself and pin. Sew this side of the binding tape by hand. Almost there!!!!!! One more thing!!!!!!

binding the edges of the fabric advent calendar

After you finish sewing the binding tape, fold the ends twice to conceal any raw edges.

binding the edges of the fabric advent calendar

Sew these ends by hand as well. VOILA!!!!!!!!! The advent calendar is done!

binding the edges of the fabric advent calendar

How to make an advent calendar wall hanging

Ok so now you have this amazing fabric advent calendar , let make it into an amazing wall hanging advent calendar.

Cut 3 stripes of fabric 6.5 inches by 5 inches. Fold in half and sew a straight seam alongside the 6.6 inches length. Press.

Fold in half so that one raw edge is inside the fold and the other is facing down. Place the looped fabric on the top edge of the calendar with raw edge facing the hessian fabric.

Sew in place using the same zig zag stitch. Sew one at each end and one in the middle of the advent calendar.

Now we are done !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You did it!!!!

Hang it by inserting a wooden or metal rod through the fabric loops and hang it on your favorite Christmas spot πŸ™‚

Join the 5 day DIY Advent Calendar Challenge!

A 5 day step by step guide to creating a beautiful advent calendar using fabric scraps and applique! FREE

Check out these Fabric Advent Calendars made by creative mamas!

This Advent Calendar was made by Ros for her grandkids. This is her littleChristmas message:

“Thank you for the Advent calendar pattern. I made three, one for each of my three daughters and grandchildren. All the children really loved the calendar, so again, thank you.
Have a great Christmas”

This other beautiful Advent Calendar was created by Diana. This is her sewing story:

“Giving this to my 13-year-old cousin. I didn’t have access to burlap (I’m guessing that’s what you call Hessian fabric,) so I subbed the music fabric instead. The recipient is quite a good violinist, so I thought she’d appreciate it.”

2 thoughts on “How to make a DIY fabric advent calendar that your kids will love”

  1. I will try my hand at this however making 8 of them may take me more than a few afternoons. Thank you for the great idea. These are very beautiful and sweet.

    Reply
    • Thanks Amy! Wow yes 8 is a lot! There will be lots of happy kids this Christmas in your family this year!!!!!

      Reply

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