Reusable advent calendars

Reusable advent calendars

One of our favourite things at Christmas time is advent calendars. That morning excitement and running to get your treat out for the day! It has become a tradition as well as a way for our small kids to learn to recognise numbers. It also builds excitement in the countdown to Christmas. The problem with store bought advent calendars is that they are usually made from plastic (on the inside) which is not easily recyclable, as well as wrapped in plastic when you buy them. So, this year I decided we will not go with store bought advent calendars. When looking at reusable advent calendars online, I really liked the look of the wooden drawer style but storage of one for each child between Christmases would be annoying as they do take up more space. There were so many styles of material ones which looked easy to fold but in some cases the pockets were tiny, and I found most of them very expensive. That led me to YouTube, which has a lot of DIY calendars. I could not find any that had measurements and detailed guidelines. In this post I will share detailed instructions (with my measurements) and photos.

My design is four rows of six pockets each, making the 24 pockets of the advent calendar. Depending on the amount of material you have available and what look you want, you can really adjust this design to suit you. You can do more rows and either have a very long one or cut it into a Christmas tree shape for example. I went for a conservative design using the maximum amount of the material I had available (to minimise wastage) as well as the easiest design to sew. I wanted a larger pocket size with a panel at the top for the kid’s names. I used two colours so that my kids could easily tell which was their own advent calendar.

Materials for a one-colour advent calendar:

195cm x 65cm piece of material

4 x 25cm long pieces if ribbon

matching cotton thread

fabric paint

mini clothes pegs

cardboard

Materials for a two-colour advent calendar:

175cm x 65cm piece of material

25cm x 65cm piece of material in a different colour

4 x 25cm long pieces if ribbon

matching cotton thread

fabric paint

mini clothes pegs

cardboard

Step 1: Fold the material to form pockets. If you are using one colour for your calendar, leave 20cm above the top of the first pocket and if you are using two colours, leave 3cm above the top of the first pocket. I made the folds that form the pockets 8cm deep and space the pockets 1.5-2cm apart. Pin the folds down to hold the material.

Fold the material

Pin down the folds leaving material above the top pocket

The folds that form the pockets are 8cm deep and spaced 1.5-2cm apart

Step 2: Draw the lines that make up the sides of the pockets. I made the pockets 9cm wide. You can vary the widths to have different size pockets. Make sure to give yourself space on either side of the pockets to sew the seams.

Lines drawn marking the sides of the pockets

Step 3: Sew all the way down both sides of the material to hold the folds together. Then sew down each of the lines drawn to create the pockets. Once complete, you now have your pockets.

Sew all the way down both sides of the material then down each of the sew lines for the pockets

Sew all the way down each of the sew lines to create the pockets

Now you should be able to see the pockets complete

Step 4: If you are using one colour, skip this step and move to step 5. If you are using two colours, then you need to sew the second colour onto the material above the top pocket. Put the two sides of material that are the front facing each other and sew along the edge. Then lay the material flat and iron the seam. You can sew along the seam to secure the extra material.

Pin the two pieces of material with fronts facing

Lay the material flat, iron and sew parallel to the seam line to secure the extra material

Step 5: Fold the material in half with the fronts of the material facing each other, ensuring that there is 1.5cm of material at the bottom below the pockets. Pin the two layers together so that you can sew along the edge of the material. Draw the seam line 1.5cm from the outside edge of the pockets. The top sew line on my calendars is 14cm above the top of the top pocket. Trim the excess material 2cm away from the line.

Fold the fronts of the material facing each other

Ensuring that there is 1.5cm below the bottom pocket

Draw the seam line 1.5cm from the outside edge of the pockets

The top sew line is 14cm above the top pocket

Trim the excess material 2cm away from the top sew line

Step 6: Fold the ribbon in half so they form a loop and pin the ribbon between the two pieces of material. Space them evenly apart and make sure they are secure.

Fold the ribbon in half and place between the two peices of material

Space the ribbons even distances apart and pin securely

Step 7: Sew along the edges of the calendar. Sew back and forth across the ribbon to secure them in place. Make sure you leave 20cm unsewn at the end, so the material can be turned the correct way round. Trim around the edges and the corners.

Sew around the outside 

Trim the edges and corners to make them easier to turn out

Step 8: Pull the material through the unsewn hole. Fold the seams inwards at the hole, pin it closed and sew all the way around the edge. This will close the hole and edge the advent calendar.

Pull the material through the unsewn hole

Fold the seams inwards where the hole is and pin closed

Sew and edge all the way around

To finish off the advent calendar

Step 9: Decorate the calendar. I used fabric paint for the kids names. You can paint the numbers on as well. I pegged cardboard numbers on, so that every year we are able to move the position of the numbers.

If you have any questions or need any tips, feel free to ask. Get sewing and enjoy making your own advent calendar, as well as filling it with awesome surprises. This is great fun for any age.



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