Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No-Sew Fabric Advent Calendar

I’m finally recovered from Thanksgiving (and my son only going to preschool for one day last week, as opposed to the usual three…) and am ready for Christmas!

And how could I not be after seeing all the Christmas eye candy in blogland? Wow, I have seen so.much.good.stuff. out there in the last few weeks, I have to consciously practice some restraint and *not* compile a gargantuan list of crafts to make, or decorating vignettes to attempt. (Okay, so I may have a mental list because my mind is always awhirl with project fantasies, but that'll remain just that for the sake of my sanity!)

Since I want to keep these next few weeks relatively simple, so as to enjoy the lead-up to Christmas, the one big project I decided to do this year was an advent calendar. I grew up with paper ones—particularly Tasha Tudor calendars, as my mom simply adores her—and it was such a joy to anticipate opening the little paper doors each morning as a kid.

After seeing wonderful inspirations for fabric advent projects at Rosebud & Bluebells and Maple & Magnolia, I cobbled together my own hybrid version utilizing a khaki-and-cream ticking and budget-friendly, linen-look fabric.

Now, I have to interject for the sake of transparency that I actually put off starting this project because I’m a ridiculous wuss. See, my first inspiration, Donna’s calendar/garland, involves {gasp} SEWING! 

Rosebud & Bluebells

And I don’t have my own sewing machine, and even if I did, I can never remember how to thread the bloody thing, and then I always end up jamming the needle at some point which means pulling out the bobbin…GAH! I wasted at least three days by going through these sorts of mental gymnastics and hand wringing.

Fortunately, that’s when I ran across Susan’s calendar, which shared a tangentially similar feel to Donna’s thanks to the use of neutral fabric and stamped numbers.

Maple & Magnolia

However, this calendar required much less sewing and employed hot glue (schweet!) for attaching the pockets to the backing. That was a total relief, because just before finding Susan’s calendar, I was seriously considering stringing paper envelopes embellished with Christmas paper and calling it a day.  That’s how scared I was of sewing.

So, I bought a handy-dandy quilting square tool that allowed me to trace perfect 4-1/2” squares on the linen-ish fabric. After cutting them out, I stenciled the numbers in traditional red and green using craft paint, laid out the squares on the ticking to determine the size of the overall of the calendar, and marked the edges for cutting.  

At this point, an absolutely beautiful and ironic turn of events occurred. After all my worry over sewing this thing, followed by the grudging acceptance of the fact I could and should at least hem the ticking (my friend Sara had her sewing machine out and was willing to help this absolute novice), I looked at the pinking shears I used earlier to cut out the pockets, and realized I could just cut out the ticking with it. SAY WHAT? So I cut out the ticking with the shears, attached the dowel with dabs of hot glue, and there were no needles or thread involved with the making of my advent calendar!

There you have it. I have successfully evaded yet another sewing project.
I added the twine hanger, rick-rack and felt holly embellishment to finish it off—using hot glue, of course.

In each pocket is a square of parchment paper with an activity. I was going for an old-timey feel (we do live in a cabin after all) and so I printed the following activities in Blackadder font on the paper to complete the calendar:
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • See Christmas lights at Tanglewood
  • Watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
  • Go the mountains and get a fresh Christmas tree
  • Make a Christmas wreath for the front door
  • Paint sun-catcher Christmas ornaments
  • Listen to Christmas music with the lights off (except for the Christmas tree)
  • Make chocolate soothers with marshmallows
  • Stud oranges with cloves
  • Deliver cookies to family and friends
  • Make pinecone bird feeders
  • Take canned and non-perishable food to OCIM
  • Snuggle together and read Christmas books
  • Buy a new family Christmas ornament
  • See Santa Claus
  • Go to the Mebane Christmas parade
  • Set out the Christmas village
  • Write and mail Christmas cards
  • Make a paper chain garland
  • Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
  • Make salt dough ornaments
  • Give the gift of a hug and a smile
  • Go to the Duke Chorale Christmas Concert
  • Read “Twas Night Before Christmas” (illustrated by Tasha Tudor) and leave out cookies and milk for Santa
With my son almost four, Christmas is getting more and more exciting for us with each passing year. He was pretty cognizant of what was happening at Christmas last year, but he’s even more so now and I’m enjoying his unbridled enthusiasm. And now that he’s also interested in doing crafts and other activities, having the advent calendar allows me to focus our creative energies and really enjoy these next several weeks with him.  

Okay, off to start pulling out the Christmas decorations. I don’t begin decorating for Christmas until December 1st.  Does anybody out there still do this?  I think I may be the only one!

Linking to:
Transformation Thursdays at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Air Your Laundry Friday at Freckled Laundry
Catch As Catch Can at My Repurposed Life 


  1. I bet this Sara person is incredibly awesome and just about the coolest person you know. that being obvious, want to go to the parade together?

    you're calendar inspired *mine* bit you know, mine is tackier. I mean more festive! I love the list, what a great mom:) kids make the best excuses ;)

  2. I LOVE your advent calendar! You did a great job. Gotta LOVE the hot glue gun!!! ;)

  3. Wow Erin,
    This advent calender is fantastic, you have done a wonderful job. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog too, that is very thoughtful. I'm so glad you let me know about your calender, it's a wonderful feeling to know you have inspired another.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Donna xx

  4. In the south, Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween. Didn't you get the memo after living here for 30 years? ;)


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