What you will need:
There is nothing wrong with getting a head start on your Christmas makes, and this Dashwood advent calendar is a perfect project for when you're feeling a bit crafty!
The advent calendar front and back is printed on each panel of fabric (we sell it by the panel, which you can find here) and there are instructions printed on it as well, however we thought we'd make you a step-by-step guide to help you through it.
Cut out the back of the panel around the edge of the red border
Cut out each strip of front pockets around the cream seam allowances that border them.
Fold the top edge seam allowance to the back of each pocket strip and press. Stitch in place.
Next comes arguably the trickiest part of the advent calendar; the box pleats! Once you get into a rhythm, they're not half as bad as what you think. They're just a bit faffy because they're so small and the iron is so big, so watch your fingers! What you want to do is take each pocket edge and make it meet the dashed turquoise line in between each pocket, folding the cream seam allowance underneath it as you go. It's really hard to explain in words, so here is a video to hopefully offer some assistance! (Excuse the filming skills - The Mother is many things, but Baz Luhrman she ain't!!)
Make box pleats in between each pocket.
Fold over the seam allowances on each side of the strips to the back, press and stitch in place (as in Step 3). Fold, press and baste the bottom seam allowances of each pocket strip in place. I found the best way to get a good, sharp finish of the bottom of the pleats was to pin each one in place and then steam over them. Remove the pins before basting (if you're doing it on the sewing machine) as they tend to get in your way.
Line up each front pocket strip against its corresponding coloured strip on the back panel and pin in place.
Sew the front pocket strips to the back panel along the dotted lines in between each pocket, which you have just used for lining up your box pleats. If you can't get right to the bottom of each line without the pockets getting in the way, it doesn't matter.
Stitch each pocket strip to the back panel along the bottom of each strip and remove your basting stitches.
Layer a piece of wadding the same size as the advent calendar to the back of the front panel and stitch around the edges to secure it.
Layer your backing fabric right side down against the right side of the advent calendar so the front is sandwiched between the backing fabric and the wadding and stitch around the side and bottom edges, leaving the top open. Turn the advent calendar the right side out so the wadding is now on the inside of the advent calendar. If you want to do some additional quilting at this point, then feel free to do so!
Whip stitch the top of your advent calendar closed to make a neat edge.
Create some tabs or loops to hang your finished advent calendar up with. I made 2 tabs for this one by cutting out 2 rectangles, each 8x3.5cm. I folded each one in half lengthways, right side in, stitched along the long edge and one of the short edges, cut down the corners then turned them the right side out using a loop turner. I made the corners crisp by using a point turner. I then closed the open edge by folding the raw edges inside the tab and top stitched close to the edge. The tabs were then hand-stitched onto each top corner of the advent calendar.
Voila! You have your very own handmade advent calendar, which you can use for years to come!