How To Sew: Advent Calendar Bunting

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The winter air is filling with the smell of gingerbread and pine, and the fairy lights are creeping over every surface. Even the most stubborn of us will be accepting that there are only four precious weeks left until Christmas! The buzz word for a crafty Christmas this year is bunting, and we love it – but why not take it further! A lovely row of bunting is stunning, but you can make it practical fun too. Turn your bunting into a beautiful homemade advent calendar, ready to be stuffed with goodies. Say goodbye to chalky advent calendar chocolate, and hello to your new Christmas tradition!

Getting ready

Supplies

  • Fabrics – A bright outer felt, and a white or cream lining (felt or cotton). Buying your felt in squares means you can guarantee you have enough for every pocket
  • Metallic thread for top-stitch decoration
  • Triangular card template
  • Bias binding to match or contrast your outer fabric (How much? 25 x the width of your template, plus 24 x 2 inches, plus 2 X 6 inches)
  • Tailors chalk, ruler, matching threads

To create your template first, consider the length of the wall you can hang it on, and what you want to put inside. Make sure your template includes your 1/4″ seam allowance to ensure all your triangles will be exactly the same size, and you won’t be surprised by pockets that are too small. Once you have a template a good size for you, you’ll need to cut all your fabric.

First off, trace 50 of your template on to your outer fabric, and cut them all. Once they’re cut, separate out 50 pieces for the front of the pocket, and fold over roughly the top quarter. Pin the fold, iron for a sharp line across the top, and then trim the excess fabric off the sides to leave you with a triangle shape again.

 

Piecing together the pockets

Once you have all your outer fabric pieces prepared, it’s time to cut your linings as well. Cut 50 pieces using the template as it is, these are the back pieces of the lining. For the front piece of the lining, you’ll want to adjust your template. Place one of your outer front pieces on top of your template, and cut your template down to 1/2″ above the front outer piece.

Cut 50 front lining pieces with this new template, and fold the 1/2″ at the top down. Pin, iron and trim in the same way as the front outer pieces. Once you’re finished you should have 100 large pieces (50 outer, 50 lining) and 100 short pieces (50 outer pieces with a large front fold, and 50 lining pieces with a short fold)

 

Before piecing the pockets together, you’ll want to top-stitch your front outer pieces. Using a contrast thread (we used metallic gold and silver), secure the fold along the top and bottom with a decorative top-stitch. We’re using the wave shaped stitch on our machine, but any decorative stitch of your choice will work fine!

Once your front pieces are top stitched, pin your front outer to your back outer with the top-stitching facing inwards. Sew along the two bottom sides, starting from one corner of the short front piece round to the other side.Remember to backstitch at the start and end to secure the pockets firmly. Once the pockets are sewn together, trim right along the edges and clip off the bottom of the triangle. This will help the pockets lie flat. Turn the pockets inside out, use a pencil end or similar to poke the point out fully, then press flat.

Sew your lining pockets together with the flap facing outwards rather than inwards, then trim them the same way. Don’t turn your lining pockets inside out, but do press them!

To attach the lining to the outer pocket, start with your lining facing short side upwards. Place your outer pocket on top of the lining, also short side facing upwards. Line the edges up to match corner to corner, and pin the two pockets together. Once the two pockets are flush together, sew them together – you’ll be sewing the three edge you haven’t sewn over yet, the top sections with only two layers of fabric rather than four.

With the top section sewn together, trim the edges and top two corners. Then, fold the sewn section inside out, bringing the lining pocket to the front. Tuck the lining pocket inside the outer pocket. Press the pocket, then slip stitch the front of the pocket to join the tops of the short lining and outer pieces together.

Completing the bunting

Once all 25 of your pockets are completed (hooray!), it’s time to attach them together as bunting. Leave 6 inches at the start of your bias binding for hanging, then pin your first pocket halfway up your bias binding. Leave two inches between each pocket, and another 6 inches at the end. Once all 25 pockets are pinned, run a straight stitch over the length of the bias binding, 1/4 of the way up. Once the pockets are attached, fold the bias binding in half over the tops of the pockets, and iron flat. Run another straight stitch as close to the bottom edge of the bias binding as you can.

 

Once your advent calendar bunting is complete, congratulate yourself! This project is simple but time consuming, and finishing is quite an achievement. Once you’ve hung your bunting, why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account. We’d love to see your finished advent bunting, full of treats and ready to go! Hopefully you’ll be using it for years to come.

How To Sew: Christmas Bauble Pockets

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It’s nearly a month ‘til Christmas, and we’re starting to feel festive! Nothing makes the festive season feel more personal than spending an evening making your own decorations, which is just what we’ve done! These cute little bauble decorations have a pocket inside to put sweets and treats in, and we think the hidden treasure inside make them twice as fun to have around!

christmas pocket baubles

 

This project is an easy one that’s great for beginners or children (with supervision of course). That’s not to say you experienced sewers won’t enjoy it of course – although these quick little baubles are simple to put together, there are endless possibilities for decorating and you can get as extravagant as you like. With accessories, cut outs, hand embroidery, fabric painting or even with some of the decorative stitch settings on your sewing machine! As well as being festive fun, these are a great use for fabric scraps, ribbon, and left over craft items and good to clear out stash leftovers. Get as creative as you can!

Getting ready

Supplies

Fabric of choice (felts or stiffer fabrics work best)

Thread

Ribbon for hanging tabs

Card for template if required

Extra ribbons, beads, fabric, felt, glitter etc. for decorating

Tools

Sewing machine

Scissors or rotary cutter

Pins

Pen or pencil

materials and supplies

Our first step is choosing the pattern! I used a simple round shape, but more vintage bauble shapes like elongated drops, stars or hearts could look lovely. You could use a mix of shapes and sizes for something a bit more fun. There are plenty of free templates on the internet if you want to try something more exciting! For this plain circle template, you can simply draw around something of the right size, about 5 inches across – I’m using the spool my ribbon came on! For other shapes, draw a template out on to some card, and cut carefully around it.

Making the baubles

On to your fabric, draw around your template – remember for each bauble you need two of the shape you’re cutting, one for the front and one for the back. Cut out the pieces and match them up into pairs. For each back piece, cut a length of ribbon 4 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half, and pin with the two ends roughly ¼ of the way down from the top of the bauble. Sew a wide zigzag over the ends of the ribbon to secure the hanging tab and stop the ends from fraying away.

Adding the tabs

Before you attach the back piece to the front piece, you’ll want to make sure any decoration that has to be sewn on is completed (if
you’re hand sewing or gluing bulky decorations such as beads or buttons on, or using fabric paints and glitter, leave these until the
end instead). A great easy decoration is to take a length of ribbon the width of the bauble, pin it across the middle and sew along the long edges in a decorative thread.

Once your front pieces are decorated, take the back pieces and pin one to each front. Because these decorations are so small, I’m using a decorative sparkly thread and am letting the stitching show – the plain sides of both fabric pieces are inside. If you have a thinner
fabric, or prefer not to have the stitching visible, have the decorated side and the tab side facing each other on the inside when you pin. (For this method, you may have to cut small notches into the edge of the fabric up to the stitching, to allow you to turn it inside out without wrinkles). When you sew around the edges, remember leave an opening about an inch down from the top of the bauble, so that you can pop your little presents inside!

Attaching the pieces

Finishing up

When the tabs, front and back are attached, simply tie off and trim your threads, iron flat if necessary, and hang them up! Once you’ve finished your baubles, they’re very versatile to use around the house – why not use them to hang sweets on your Christmas tree, or small toys for children? If you have the time, making 25 and hanging them as a wall bunting is a great alternative to a traditional advent calendar, with toys or treats in for each day! You can even make the decorations into to numbers to help kids count the days until Christmas!

hanging the baubles

Happy sewing everyone! If you make a set of these, we’d love to hear about it. Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account! Tell us what you used to decorate them, and how you’re using the finished thing!