How-to | Adorable DIY Advent Calendar

This weekend I made an adorable advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas.  I used fabric and ribbon to create these little stripped bags that now hang from our tree. I pulled out our LED tree.  This is the same tree that we used in the tiny apartment we lived in before we purchased our townhouse.  The space had been much too small to put up our large tree.  It now is the perfect accoutrement for our holiday calendar.


Last year the husband and I talked about creating our own advent calendar.  We were a bit too busy last holiday season to plan and coordinate what we wanted to do for ours.  This year I have planned ahead and it is going to be spectacular!

Interested in making your own advent calendar?  Follow the steps below to create your own adorable DIY advent calendar:

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

  • I picked up one yard of navy and white pillow ticking fabric and one yard of a contrasting fabric for the numbers.  I like the pillow ticking fabric as it is durable, thick, and quite on trend.  I chose navy and white, although many options are available.
  • I also picked up two 10 yard spools of white polyester ribbon
  • Navy thread for sewing (pick a color of threat that matches your fabric)
  • Scissors
  • Push pins
  • Pencil
  • Fabric glue (optional)
  • Stencils for numbering
  • Paint for numbering
  • Small paint brush

Step 2: Cut your fabric.  Cut your fabric into 24 rectangles or squares, leaving space to sew seems along each side.  Cut contrasting fabric (optional) for numbering the bags.

Step 3: Stencil the contrasting fabric to cut into circles.  I used a spool of ribbon to trace each circle with a pencil on the back of the fabric. I then cut out each circle.

Step 4: Sew the contrasting fabric circles to the front of each bag.  If you are going to sew on the contrasting fabric, as opposed to using fabric glue, you will need to do this before you start sewing other aspects of the bag.  I sewed slowly, moving the fabric around the needle.  You may want to practice with scrap fabric if you have a) never have done this before or b) care that the seams aren’t perfect.

Step 5: Sew the bottom seam.  The next thing I did was to sew the bottom of each of my bags. I used a straight stitch across the bottom of each bag.

Your bag should now look a bit like this:

Step 6: Sew in the ribbon.  The ribbon was the most difficult part of this project.  I first ironed a crease into the top of each side of the bags.  This helped to create a path for where I needed to place the ribbon and to make it easier to guide the machine.  I placed the ribbon under the side of the fabric, folded down my nicely pressed fabric, and pinned the fabric in place.  The pin was placed through the top of the fabric and the ribbon.  This made it easier to not sew on the ribbon. I then sewed a seam down the front of the bag and then down the back of the bag.  Remember not to sew your bag closed!

Your bag should now look a bit like this: 

Step 7: Sew the side seams.  There are two side seams: side A and side B.  Side A is the side that the ribbon crosses through.  This is NOT the side from which the ribbon hangs from.  (That is side B.)  Sew a seam from the top of the bag on this side all the way to the bottom.  This will secure the ribbon so it does not come out of the bag, while still leaving the ability for it to be cinched closed.

On side B, start your seam under the ribbon.  There should be space for the ribbon to be cinched so the bag can be closed and subsequently opened.  Sew this seam all the way to the bottom of the bag.

Turn your bag outside in and your bag should now look a bit like this: 

Now that the bags have been sewn, it is time to number them.  I picked up a set of stencils for less than $5 that included numbers in various sizes.  I ended up using numbers that were about an inch tall.  This is the set of stencils I used.

Step 8: Using the stencils, or freehand if you have that skill, paint a number on each bag.  The numbers should start with 1 and go to 24.  I practiced stenciling numbers on a few pieces of scrap fabric before starting on my bags.  It was easy as long as I was careful not to use too much paint.  I recommend going slow.


I am incredibly impressed with how adorable this advent calendar is!  The bags aren’t perfect and neither are my painted numbers.  However, this is what gives it character.

I tied each of my bags to an LED tree.  You can tie your bags to your banister, hang them from the fireplace, or even place each of them into a lovely basket.

(3) Comments

  1. […] husband and I went to Micheal’s on Black Friday.  I needed to pick up stencils for my advent calendar.  As I was walking to the aisle to look at stencil options, I saw that they had 20 clear ornaments […]

  2. […] those of you new to the blog, I sewed an advent calendar (you can read the entire post here).  There are 24 little bags, like the one in the image below, hanging on my tree.  Every day for […]

  3. […] To get you up to date, the husband and I put together an advent calendar.  I sewed these delightful little bags, one to fit a present for every day from December first to December 24th.  It has been such a fun thing!  If you would like to know how I made this, you can read the entire post here. […]

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