Countdown to Christmas and craft yourself a soon-to-be treasured family heirloom with the Peppermint Christmas Tree Advent Calendar! This hangable tree counts the days to Christmas, nestling a shining star in numbered pockets on its journey to the top of the tree. You can tuck some tiny treats in the pockets to sweeten the interminable days in December for the little people in your house, add little pieces of a puzzle or a toy that will be completed at the end, or maybe place little notes every night with challenges, heartfelt messages, trivia or jokes!
This merry make has a few sections that can easily be split up between multiple people, making a fun group project for you and your loved ones. It’s also a great opportunity to use up fabric scraps, particularly ones that feature fun or festive patterns.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED
1 metre green felt off the roll
1 metre backing fabric – a stiff heavy weight canvas will help the calendar hold its shape while hanging – alternatively you could affix a strong iron-on interfacing to more lightweight fabric
1 sheet yellow felt
1 sheet black felt
60cm of ribbon
A healthy scrap pile – or some festive fat quarters
Sewing machine and associated accoutrement
LET’S GET MAKING!
STEP ONE // Draw a triangle with a base of 60cm and a height of 60cm.
STEP TWO // Using that triangle as a guide, sketch out a Christmas tree shape. You can go for the classic three tiers, or try for a more naturalistic tree shape. This may take some experimentation. Don’t worry, you only have to get one side perfect as we will be cutting the pattern on the fold to achieve symmetry.
When you’re happy with your tree, cut out one side – if you want to save paper, or don’t have big enough pages, you can start by drawing a right angled triangle with a height of 60cm and a base of 30cm but this might make it harder to visualise the tree shape in its entirety during the drafting process.
STEP THREE // Using your paper pattern on the fold, cut out two trees, one in your green felt and one in your backing fabric. Remember to account for seam allowance. If you feel your materials will not hold shape you may also choose to cut out and iron on some interacting at this stage.
STEP FOUR // Cut out 24 8cm x 8cm squares out of assorted fabrics for the pockets. Take the time to arrange these squares in a pleasing formation on your tree and then take a photo or otherwise note down your preferred order.
STEP FIVE // Prepare the numbers to affix to your pockets. There are many options for doing this. You could use a stencil and some fabric paint and stamp them on. You could print out some templates for cutting out numbers. We freehand cut out all 24 numbers with tiny bird scissors using black felt cut into 4cm strips. Channeling the, likely apocryphal, wisdom of Michelangelo when sculpting David: simply look at the felt and cut away everything that wasn’t numbers.
STEP SIX // Take your first square to the ironing board. Press the sides and bottom approximately 1cm inwards. Double fold the top edge in by 0.5cm each time, encasing the raw edge and top stitch down. Centre the felt number within the now smaller square and stitch it in place.
STEP SEVEN // Repeat step six 23 times with the rest of the pockets. This is a great spot to set up a production line with a couple of friends to lighten the ever so slightly repetitive load – remember teamwork makes the dream work!
STEP EIGHT // Take your newly numbered, slightly smaller squares and pin them in position on your green felt tree – remembering to take seam allowance into consideration in their placement, particularly in regards to distance from the edge.
STEP NINE // One pocket at a time, topstitch your pockets in place, starting on one side, pivoting on the corners along the bottom and finishing with backstitch on the other side. Remember to leave the tops open!
STEP TEN // Place the pocketed green felt and the backing fabric right sides together and pin in place. Leave a section along the bottom roughly the distance between three pockets open to flip the tree right sides out later.
This is the point where we attach the ribbon that keeps the star tethered to the tree, and the loop that allows you to hang the tree. For this loop you can use leftover ribbon or take a strip of your remaining backing fabric, fold it in half, stitch and flip inside out to create a neat strip. Then place the length of the ribbon and the loop of the hanger, sandwiched between the right sides of the two trees with only the ends hanging out the top of the tree. Stitch securely over these as you go along the outside of the tree.
STEP ELEVEN // Clip the inner and outer corners of the tree and flip inside out using the bottom opening. Make sure to poke out the outer corners of each “branch” and press the tree. Fold in the edges of bottom opening and hand stitch closed using a mattress or ladder stitch.
Now it’s time to create the star!
STEP TWELVE // Sketch out a star shape on paper, small enough to fit into the pockets (but large enough to poke out cutely). Using the yellow felt and your paper pattern, sketch out two stars. Make sure to include seam allowance – a helpful trick is to mark the inner and outer angles of your star with notches and dots to aid you in sewing your shape.
STEP THIRTEEN // Pin the two star shapes right sides together, sandwiching the end of your ribbon between them. Stitch around the star, catching the cut end of the ribbon in the seam and leaving the long part of the ribbon in the gap that you will use to flip the star right side out.
STEP FOURTEEN // Flip the star right sides out using the ribbon to pull the far end through the gap. Poke out all its pointy bits – this can get a little finicky. If you don’t own a point turner, you may substitute any pointy but not sharp household object like a crochet hook or the rounded edge of a bobby pin.
STEP FIFTEEN // Procure some stuffing – you can use craft stuffing, cabbage fabric or chop up the leftover yellow felt into stuffing sized bits. Stuff your little star, filling out the points, and then hand sew up the gap with a ladder stitch.
Your Christmas Tree Advent Calendar is now complete! Hang it up and fill your house with festive cheer and jolly expectation.