Easy DIY Advent Calendar

The most wonderful time of the year is coming fast, and there’s nothing quite like holiday crafting. Having your own DIY Advent calendar is such a fun tradition for the kids, and this one is made with an easy design you can stitch up yourself. Decorate it any way you’d like.

I added appliqués of gingerbread men, mittens and candy canes; embroidered numbers; an embroidered saying, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”; silver sequins; and a running stitch border at the top.

I also tied ribbon into bows at the corners to make hanging loops.

If you’d like to stitch yours like this, download my Advent Calendar template sheet here. It includes the text, the numbers and the appliqué templates. It looks like this:

Some supplies you might want to gather for decorating:

Now let’s get started on the main construction.

Things You’ll Need

  • 3 strips of red-striped fabric for pockets, 21 inches by 2 3/4 inches
  • 3 strips of assorted prints for pocket bindings, 21 inches by 1 1/2 inches
  • 1 rectangle of mint fabric for the calendar top, 21 inches by 7 1/4 inches
  • 2 rectangles of mint fabric for the calendar middle pieces, 21 inches by 4 inches
  • 1 strip of mint fabric for the calendar bottom, 21 inches by 1 inch
  • 21-inch-by-15 inch cotton batting or fusible fleece
  • 21-inch-by-15-inch lightweight interfacing (if desired)
  • 21-inch-by-15-inch backing fabric
  • Marking tool (Hera marker, disappearing ink water-soluble pen, Frixion pen)
  • 2 lengths of ribbon for hanging, 6 1/2 inches each

The finished calendar measures approximately 20 1/2 inches by 14 1/2 inches. Use 1/4-inch seams unless otherwise noted.

Bind the three pocket pieces. Align a binding strip to the top of a pocket piece (right sides facing) and sew a 3/8-inch seam. Press the binding strip up, flip over and press a scant 1/4-inch fold along the long raw edge. Now press the folded edge to the stitch line on the back of the pocket piece. Pin or glue in place. Top stitch from the front, making sure to catch the folded binding edge on the backside. Repeat for all three pocket pieces.

Tip: If you will be embroidering or adding appliqués to the pocket pieces, now is the best time to do it. Each pocket piece is divided into eight 2 1/2-inch pockets with 1/2 inch reserved on each far side of the strip.

Lay out your arrangement of pocket pieces on top of the mint fabric. The top pocket is aligned to the bottom of the 21-inch-by-7 1/4-inch piece of mint fabric. The middle and bottom pockets are aligned to the bottom of 21-by-4-inch mint fabric pieces. The 21-inch- by-1-inch strip of mint fabric is sewn at the bottom, like this:

Back the front of your calendar with fusible fleece or cotton batting and lightweight interfacing if desired. With a Hera marker; water-soluble, disappearing ink pen; or Frixion pen, mark off the pocket divisions, starting from the very bottom to the top of the binding of the top pocket. First, mark 1/2 inch in from either side, and then mark every 2 1/2 inches for the eight pockets. Top stitch along these lines, starting at the bottom, traveling up to the top edge of the top pocket piece and all the way back down again. Top stitch all nine vertical lines.

Fold each ribbon piece in half, and pin the raw edges to the upper corners of the front of the Advent calendar. Baste stitch in place.

Pin the backing piece to the front of the Advent calendar, right sides facing. Sew around all four edges, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning along the bottom. Turn right-side out and stitch the opening closed by hand. Press well.

When you’re all done sewing and decorating your Advent calendar, it’s time to have fun with activity tags.

Sure, finding candy canes and chocolate coins in the pockets are sweet, but kids also truly love the holiday traditions that come each year, such as building a gingerbread house, decorating sugar cookies, visiting Santa, going ice skating, watching a special movie — you know, all the things your family loves best at Christmastime.

In light of keeping things simple and festive, I used washi tape to add a touch of color to my activity tags and finished them off with an assortment of twine. Tuck them into the pockets along with some treats and sweets.

When your Advent calendar is complete, hang it and wait for December (it’s coming fast!) This calendar will bring joy to you and your family for years and years.