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: Autumn Leaf Tablet Sleeve

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Autumn is breezing its way into our lives, but as I’ve been told this is no excuse to start hibernating, I’ve barely had a moment to stop and admire the colours of the season! The brief glances I’ve snatched between returning my attention to my new limb (read, permanently attached mobile device) have sparked some simple inspiration though – and with an adorable new tablet cover I can take the falling leaves along with me everywhere I go.

This falling leaves device sleeve is super-duper easy as well as both cute and practical! It’s a quick project to slip in during your downtime and use up scraps, and once it’s finished you can admire it everywhere you go.

Getting ready

Supplies

Felts (your base colour, and then two or three extras for your leaves)

Thick iron-on interfacing

Buttons

Ribbon

Leaf templates (optional, you can freehand draw your leaves, or use a template you’ve bought/printed out/made from actual leaves… whatever works for you!)

Sewing your sleeve

Your first step is to measure your device – if it’s a bit of an awkward size round UP to the nearest half inch, rather than down. My device measured roughly 5.5”x8.5” but yours might be slightly different. Cut two pieces of interfacing the size of your device. For your first felt rectangle, add an extra ½” to the width and length (allowing for ¼” seams). For your second felt rectangle add an extra 1/2” to the width, and an extra 4” to the length (to allow you to make the flap at the top). Iron your interfacing onto each of the felt squares – placed ¼” up from the bottom and ¼” in from each side.

Now it’s time for the sewing machine! First take your longer felt square to make the closing flap. I’ve added a hidden branch to the underside of my flap, so you see it when you open the sleeve up to get your device. If you’re adding a hidden branch like I have, cut a branch shape just slightly narrower than the width of the sleeve, and under 2 inches high. Once it’s cut, sew it into place right at the top on your rectangle, upside down, on the side with no interfacing.

Once your hidden branch is in place fold the top section over on itself. You want to fold away from the interfaced side and onto the plain side, so the branch is hidden away. Sew down the two short edges to secure your flap and leave the long edge open – this is because we’ll be turning the flap inside out later to hide the stitching and reveal the branch.

Take your shorter rectangle, and pop a pin about 2″ from the top so you know how far down the flap will come. Cut out enough leaf shapes to fill the space below the pin to your satisfaction (I used 6). Fold each of your leaves in half, and gently press them with an iron. This will give them a subtle 3d effect once they’re sewn in place. Arrange them in your blank space, pin in place, and sew each one with two or three lines of straight stitch straight down the middle.

Now take your front and back felt pieces, and pin them together with the interfacing facing outwards. Sew with a straight stitch around the two long edges and the bottom edge, 1/4″ in. Your straight stitch should just miss the interfacing, ensuring your seams aren’t too stiff for you to turn the sleeve out! Remember to strengthen the start and ends of your sewing by reverse sewing back a couple of stitches.

Now you can turn your sleeve inside out, and turn the flap inside out as well. Lightly press the sleeve into shape around the edges. To close the open side of the top flap, I ironed a little piece of iron-on hemming tape between the layers, but you could just as easily use a pretty decorative top stitch.

Finishing up

To finish your tablet sleeve, choose two largish buttons and a piece of ribbon. Sew one button in the middle of the flap, and one just below it on the main body of the sleeve. Tie a short length of ribbon around the base of the lower button, and pop a hand-stitch on it to secure. Finally, pinch your leaves back up a little if the sewing has flattened them out, and you’re finished! To close the sleeve, wind the ribbon a few times around the buttons in a figure of eight, then tuck the rest away underneath. Congratulations, you’re ready to grab your coffee, throw on your scarf and head out the door!

If you make a falling leaves sleeve yourself, 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. We’d love to see what colours you choose, and how you get creative with your shapes!