Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Felt Advent Calendar

Last Fall I wanted to make something special for my friend's birthday. I wanted it to be something along a Christmas theme since her November birthday comes just before the holiday season and because she loves decorating for Christmas. Also there's a nine-year old in the home and I felt it would be nice to make something that he would enjoy too. I decided that an Advent calendar would fit the bill.

I started with a sketch  which depicted a cheery holiday scene. It featured many traditional elements that are commonly associated with Christmas. A Christmas tree of course, along with a fireplace complete with stockings and a wreath hanging over the mantle, and a kitty resting on a pillow basking in the warmth of the fire. Placed in front of a window that showcased a cold winter scene was a soft, cushiony chair waiting for Santa to come and relax in while eating cookies left especially for him. There would be presents under the tree and a toy train completing the picture- perfect holiday scene.

My original intent was for individual pieces of the scene to be unattached and over the course of Advent a new piece would be added each day until final the scene would be complete. After much thought, considering the wear and tear of taking pieces off and on, I changed my plan and decided to make the scene complete and intact and make numbered pockets that would be used to count down the days to the big day.

I re-drew the sketch to scale  and set about making individual patterns for each piece of the "puzzle."

Here's an example  of the chair which is  made up of eight separate pieces. And here you see several baggies of different elements and all their pieces just waiting to be cut, pieced, and sewn together.

In this close up you see the "glass" and the "milk" 
And finally a close up of the chair with its side table with milk and cookies on it.  The closeup gives you a sense of some of the detail involved: embroidered to show depth in the chair and tiny delica bead chocolate chips in the cookies. If you look close, to the right and behind the chair, you can see the "wood grain" of the hardwood floor.

With a few of the key pieces complete it was time to start putting it all together. I found myself constantly altering things as I went along, a lot of pinning and unpinning was involved in putting it all together. But in the end the overall result was pretty true to the initial vision.

A photograph of the finished product followed by a few more closeups

The fireplace ... 
If I had it to do over again I would make one big change ... the stockings would not be sewn down, but would hang freely. They do however, remain open at the top to allow for stuffing candy canes in. I also would have made the wreath more 3-D by sewing individual holly leaves on it but would definitely keep the bead "berries."

Here's a little closer view of the candlesticks which were made with bugle beads  and the curtain made of patterned fabric instead of felt, complete with curtain rod and finial.

What's Christmas without a fuzzy grey kitten
  perched on a lime green pillow. For some reason it looks like kitty only has whiskers on one side but I know that's not the case.

Nestled beside the easy-chair is mama's basket of knitting. The basket is complete with balls of yarn and tiny knitting needles.

Another closeup of the chair includes a look out the window    where you 'll see sparkly snowflakes falling as well as a snowman, tree branch, and shivering robin.

A view of the other side of the room shows the tree and the train. To be honest, the train was my least favorite part of the calendar. It did not come out as 3-D as I wanted nor did the track. You do get another view of the "hardwood" floor and the rug that covers it. I used a patterned felt for the rug and added fringe to the edges, though it is hard to see in the photograph.

One more closeup, this time of the tree, shows more of its details.   Tiny strings of lights, miniature red bells, and white snowflakes deck the tiered tree made of sparkly felt.

Once again, the finished result.  I hope my friend will get many years of enjoyment out of her Advent calendar. She is a kind and generous person and this gift was made with love, in appreciation and admiration for the person she is.


  1. This is SPECTACULAR, Sherri. You are truly an artist. Thank you for sharing your process as well as your finished product with us!

  2. Holy cow (somehow I was not following your crafty side blog)...this is AMAZING. She must be a fantastic friend ;)