The days leading up to Christmas will feel merrier with an Advent calendar. Fussy-cut pockets are sized just right for candy and trinkets.
Christmas Countdown
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Designer: Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Finished size: 23-3/4 ×24-3/4"


Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42" of usable fabric width.

  • 10" square each of 25 assorted novelty prints (pocket flaps) (Designer Heidi Staples fussy-cut several flaps so that there was one image on the front of the flap and a second image on the inside.
  • 1-3/8 yard tan linen (pocket center, border, backing)
  • 3/8 yard muslin (pocket flaps)
  • 1/4 yard aqua stripe (sleeve)
  • 24×25" piece batting
  • Fabric-marking pen
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery floss: black
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Clover Hera marking tool (optional)
  • Basting spray
  • 3/8"-diameter wooden dowel: 28" long
  • Bakers twine for hanging (optional)

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

From each novelty print, cut:

  • 2—3-1/4×3-1/2" rectangles

From tan linen, cut:

  • 1—24-1/2 ×25-1/2" backing rectangle
  • 2—3-1/2×24-1/2" border strips
  • 2—3-1/2×19-1/2" border strips
  • 5—4-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles
  • 5—3-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles
  • 4—1-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles

From muslin, cut:

  • 25—3-1/4×3-1/2" rectangles

From aqua stripe, cut:

  • 1—3×24-1/2" rectangle

Embroider Border Strips and Number Rectangles

Click on "Download this Project" above for the Full-Size Embroidery Patterns.

1. Tape Full-Size Embroidery Pattern numbers to a light box or sunny window. Center a novelty print 3-1/4 ×3-1/2" rectangle over pattern, with bottom of embroidery pattern 1-1/4" from bottom edge of rectangle; tape in place. With a fabric-marking pen, trace number 1 pattern onto fabric to make Unit 1. Using one rectangle from each novelty print, repeat with 24 additional 3-1/4×3-1/2" rectangles and pattern numbers to make units 2–25.

2. Repeat Step 1 to trace Full-Size Embroidery Pattern saying "We Wish You" on one tan linen 312×2412" border strip. Trace "A Merry Christmas" on remaining tan linen 312 ×2412" border strip.

3. Secure a traced border strip in an embroidery hoop. Using four strands of black embroidery floss, backstitch on marked lines to make an embroidered border strip. Repeat to make a second embroidered border strip.

4. Using Step 1 units and two side-by-side rows of backstitches for each number, repeat Step 3 to embroider 25 number rectangles.

Assemble Pocket Center

Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Press seams in directions indicated by arrows on diagrams. If no direction is specified, press seam toward darker fabric.

Click on "Download this Project" above for Pocket Flap Pattern.

1. Layer an embroidered number rectangle right side up (with number reading correctly), matching novelty print 3-1/4 ×3-1/2" rectangle right side down (orient the design upside down if it's a directional print), and a muslin 3-1/4×3-1/2" rectangle. Pin together pieces in stack. 

2. Use pocket flap template to trace rounded corners on bottom edge of Step 1 stack (Diagram 1). Stitch 1/4" from traced line along side and bottom edges. Trim on traced line using pinking shears, or clip into seam allowance around curves. Turn flap right side out through top edge, then topstitch 1/8" away from seam to make a pocket flap. Keep top edge open.

Christmas Countdown

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make 25 pocket flaps total.

4. With wrong side inside, fold a tan linen 4-1/2×18-1/2" rectangle in half widthwise to make a 2-1/4×18-1/2" pocket unit (Diagram 2). Topstitch 18" from folded edge. Repeat with remaining 4-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles to make five pocket units total.

Christmas Countdown

5. Layer a pocket unit atop a tan linen 3-1/2×18-1/2" rectangle with bottom raw edges aligned (Diagram 3). Baste 1/8" from side and bottom edges. Repeat with remaining tan linen 3-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles and pocket units.

Christmas Countdown

6. Beginning 3/4" from left-hand edge, align top of pocket flap 1 with top of a Step 5 unit (Diagram 4); pin. Baste 1/8" from top edge. Position pocket flap 2 so that it is 1/2" from pocket flap 1; pin, then baste in place. Repeat with pocket flaps 3–5. There should be 3/4" remaining between pocket flap 5 and right-hand edge of unit.

Christmas Countdown

7. Mark vertical lines centered between pocket flaps using a Hera marking tool, or fold unit to crease vertical lines and then unfold. Topstitch along lines to make a pocket row (Diagram 5).

Christmas Countdown

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7, placing pocket flaps in numerical order, to make five pocket rows total.

9. Referring to Diagram 6, lay out pocket rows and tan linen 1-1/2×18-1/2" rectangles in nine rows. Sew together rows to make pocket center. The center should be 18-1/2×19-1/2" including seam allowances.

Christmas Countdown

Assemble Advent Calendar

1. Referring to Diagram 7, lay out embroidered border strips, tan linen 3-1/2 ×19-1/2" border strips, and pocket center in three rows. Sew together pieces in center row. Join rows to make calendar front. The front should be 24-1/2 ×25-1/2" including seam allowances.

Christmas Countdown

2. Fold in each short end of aqua stripe 3 ×24-1/2" rectangle 1/4" twice; topstitch 1/8" from folds. Fold rectangle in half lengthwise, wrong side inside. The folded rectangle should be 1-1/2×23-1/2" including seam allowances.

3. Center and align raw edges of Step 2 folded rectangle on top edge of calendar front; baste in place to add sleeve (Diagram 8).

Christmas Countdown

4. Center batting 24×25" rectangle on tan linen 24-1/2×25-1/2" backing rectangle. Use basting spray to adhere batting in place.

5. Aligning raw edges, layer Step 4 unit and Step 3 calendar front, right sides together. Sew around edges, using a 3/8" seam allowance and leaving a 5" opening on one side edge (Diagram 9). Use pinking shears or scissors to trim seam allowances to 1/8" except at 5" opening.

Christmas Countdown

6. Turn calendar right side out through opening. Hand-sew opening closed. Topstitch 1/8" around all edges to complete advent calendar (do not stitch aqua stripe sleeve closed). Add 3/8"-diameter dowel through sleeve. If desired, tie bakers twine to each end of dowel for hanging; otherwise, use nails or hooks to attach dowel to wall. Fill each pocket with a small treat.

Christmas Countdown
Christmas Countdown