Friday, November 22, 2013

Advent Calendar

When I was a kid, we used to get a paper advent calendar with perforations around the little doors so you had to carefully tear open the door to reveal the picture behind it. Sometimes the pictures were of various Christmas symbols, like a candle or an ornament or a star. Even more fun were the calendars with pictures or phrases that worked together as a story or scene when they were all opened. I was one of the impatient children who opened multiple windows, then tried to push the flaps shut so I wouldn't be found out. Especially when it was my sisters' calendars I opened. (I apologize, sisters!)
The detailed drawings, with glitter, were delightful!
Trader Joe's ( a popular grocery chain that was exclusive to CA, and is expanding throughout the country)  raised the bar when they started selling advent calendars with the same perforated cardboard doors to tear open, but behind the door is a piece of chocolate shaped as a Christmas symbol! And even when you remove the chocolate, there is a picture printed behind it. Of course, TJ's isn't the only store to sell them, but they were readily available, and inexpensive, which were big improvements over trying to find something in a catalog and ordering it by mail. Remember, no internet then.
I loved getting these for my kids, who actually got tired of them,
and usually didn't even open all the windows.
I guess the chocolate isn't really very good. 

Being a crafty person, I always wanted to make an advent calendar with drawers or pockets to fill with little toys or candies for each day. With four kids, though, I thought it would be overwhelming to make something big enough, and to come up with enough items to fill it. 

When one of my online-sewing-bee mates mentioned she was making an advent calendar for her newly adopted son, though, I was inspired. She was working on this adorable advent pocket quilt at SewMamaSew
Cute! But I think it needs a heading,
and the pockets are flat, so it won't hang right if they're full.

Then I saw this tutorial at Hunter's Design Studio, and I like the long, narrow shape, and the dimensional pockets. I also like that Sam made a blog post detailing the construction of the calendar, very generous of her.  I ordered the paper pattern, and two days later, it arrived in the mail. Good thing, too, because I was excited to get started on it! (PS: Sam's patterns are excellent!)

Now I want to write the prequel, and tell you about the project before this advent calendar!
I attended a workshop sponsored by the quilt guild and taught by Bobbi Finley, whose specialty is needle-turn hand applique to make tile quilts, which look like puzzle pieces fitted together with grout in between. I cut apart a project I'd started a year ago and didn't like very much, and used the cute snowman panel, and snowflake fabrics from my stash. 

Someone said this looks like a snow globe,
an idea I like very much.

I added snowballs stolen from that old project, and pieced together the last bits of the snowballs' background fabric.

The stripes are an element picked up from another guest speaker who came to our quilt guild. I love how they highlight the panel. 

It all came together in this wall hanging, with ribbons on the ends where I intend to hang plastic snowflakes that are somewhere in my Christmas decorations bins. They'll make an appearance after Thanksgiving.

Now, back to our story of the advent calendar...

There were some forlorn, unused pieces left over from the project that I stole the snowman and the snowballs from. Since they represented a fair bit of work, I couldn't stand to just stuff them into my Christmas fabric bin, because then they would get in the way of other, new projects that came along. (Yes, I feel a deep responsibility in my relationship with fabrics. Kind of ridiculous, I know, but that's part of the fun!) I made a pillow with some of the leftovers:

And that's when I saw the tutorial for the advent calendar, and I knew it would be the perfect place to use the other snowman panel in my fabric stash. 
Snowflake buttons added.
I'm sorry I don't have a better picture!

The pockets are filled, and are stitched shut. 
It will just take a snip with scissors to cut the thread, and open the pocket.
No cheating! No peeking!
There are a few items that don't fit in the pockets. The pillow above is one of them, and so is this little pachyderm, also made from the leftover fabric from last year's project.

The too-big items have been wrapped and numbered, and their corresponding pockets have little tickets to be redeemed for the packages. 

Now it's all been bundled up into a cardboard box, and mailed off to the granddaughter in Pittsburgh. I hope she'll have as much fun with it as I'm having!


Grace said...

Ok, I'm screaming OMG OMG OMG! It's amazing how those snowmen evolved into a fantastic wall hanging. And I LOVE the advent calendar. Especially the part where you sewed the pockets shut, for added suspense. What fun!

Meghan Elaine said...

I love this!!!! Lucky Poppy!!! I've been almost ordering one online but I just can't stomach the pottery barn price. Thanks for sharing, it's so so cute!

Bethany H said...

Poppy is one of those kids who will open a week's worth of doors in an advent calendar in one day if I didn't put it out of reach. Good thing you sewed the pockets shut Mom, P is going to die of suspense! Excited face pictures to come :)

Sam said...

What a fantastic idea to stitch the pockets closed! And what a great panel for the calendar! Bravo!!! - Sam (who made the pattern!)