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Sew a Simple Advent Calendar…for Christmas!

Today’s contributor is Crystal from Stitched By Crystal.  All posts written by Crystal for Make It and Love It can be found HERE.

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Hi Make It & Love It readers! It is Crystal, here from Stitched by Crystal with a tutorial for a fun holiday tradition!

I tend to stick to no Christmas until after Thanksgiving around my house, but this year I pulled out some Christmas crafting a bit early so I could get this advent calendar sewn up before December rolls around! Advent calendars are such a fun way to count down the 24 days before Christmas with your family and this tutorial will show you how to sew a simple advent calendar to hang in your home!

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An advent calendar has been on my “to sew” list for years, but I never seemed to get around to sewing it in time to start the countdown December 1.  We had one when I was a kid and I looked always forward to counting down each day on our advent calendar with my sister, it is a tradition I am excited to start with my little ones this year!


For my advent calendar I went with a pretty simple design and I love the way this linen calendar with stenciled numbers looks hanging in our home.  Plus we can use it year after year and will be easy to roll right up and store with our holiday decorations.  The little pockets measure about 3” x 4”, they are a great size for storing all sorts of little goodies.


This calendar sews up pretty quick (I have a few short cuts I will show you!) I was able to complete this calendar in just one evening, so you still have plenty of time to sew up your own before December gets here!


Want to sew a simple advent calendar? Great! Let me show you how!


You will need…

  • 1 yard of fabric.  Choose something with a bit of weight to it, I chose a linen for my calendar.
  • 3/8” wooden dowel
  • Fabric paint.  I used Martha Stewart craft paint in Tartan Red satin finish.
  • Number Stencils.  My numbers are 1.5”.
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Basic sewing supplies (here’s a list of common sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas) 

***As always, if you need a bit of help with the basic sewing skills used in this tutorial, don’t hesitate to check out the Sewing 101 post for more help.


Cut your fabric in a rectangle that is 22.5” wide and 33” long.  Hem the sides and bottom by folding the edge 3/8” towards the wrong side and then another 3/8” towards the wrong side and sewing along the fold.


Cut the remaining fabric into strips that are 4” wide.  Hem the top of the strips by folding the edge over ¼” towards the wrong side and then another ¼” towards the wrong side and sewing along the fold. Fold the bottom of the strips up ¼”.


Cut the strips into pieces for the pockets that are 4.5” wide.  You will need 24 pieces.


Find the center of each pocket piece and stencil your numbers on them.  I just eyeballed it, but if you like things perfect, you can use a tailors pencil to draw some lines on the pockets to get the numbers all in the same spot.  I think the imperfections add to the handmade charm ;)  The trick to getting nice stenciled numbers is to use a round sponge with just a little bit of paint on it and dab the paint on the stencil.


Once the paint dries, fold the sides of each pocket under about ¼” and press.  While you are ironing, iron over the numbers too to heat set them.


Lay out your numbers on your calendar.  Again, if you are the perfectionist type, you can measure for perfect placement; I just eyeballed it…more handmade charm!  Make sure you leave an extra 2” at the top for the dowel casing.


Once you are happy with your pocket placement, secure the pockets in place for sewing.  You can use pins if you like, I find that a regular kids glue stick works perfectly and is way faster than pinning.


Sew the pockets in place along the sides and bottom, make sure you back stitch at the top so the pockets are secure.


Fold the top edge of the calendar 3/8” towards the wrong side, then another ¾” towards the wrong side and sew along the fold to create a casing for the wooden dowel.  Cut your dowel a few inches longer than the width of your calendar and slide it through the casing.  Tie your ribbon to the dowel on either side.


Fill the pockets with small trinkets, candies, or gifts and start counting down the days ‘til Christmas! I think I will be adding some envelopes with fun family activities to do each day this year too!


Have fun sewing!



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Check out Crystal’s blog here.  Her darling shop here.  Follow her on Instagram here.  And her Pinterest page here.

***ALL contributor posts by Crystal, can be found HERE.


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Didn’t that put you in the Holiday mood?

We know you’ll love these other fun Christmas tutorials that will have your home holiday-ready in no time!

Burlap Christmas Stockings:

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  1. Abbie says:

    I’ve been looking for a simple way to sew an advent calendar, and your instructions are so easy! I think, even with my extremely limited sewing skills, I can make an awesome Pokémon cards calendar for my son this year. Quick question though. Can I use felt instead, for the pockets? Hoping to eliminate the need to neatly hem all those pockets. Also, can I do the paint stencil on felt? Total newbie here. Thanks for you help!

  2. Ruth S says:

    Thanks for the advent. I couldn’t decide how to do numbers. Stencilling is the perfect idea,and I had some in the drawer. My grandson will be delighted with his first advent calender. Must get on with it……

  3. Tina Olsen says:

    Great idea. It’s simple and classic and can be used for years to come. This is great! Thanks!

  4. Alayna says:

    I’ve ordered my 25 days of Christ ornaments but they haven’t arrived yet. Can you tell me if they will fit in these pockets or if I will need to adjust the size?

  5. Crystal says:

    I have always loved the idea of an advent calendar but never liked having to worry about trinkets and candy (especially first thing in the morning). I finally decided to make one and use small Christmas ornaments for each day. It works out great! Each of my three kids alternate putting the ornament on but on the last day there is three bells; each child gets to hang one. They love it and I love that I don’t have to buy extra trinkets or deal with candy. Love the look with the linen too!

  6. Desiree says:

    Looks great! Never thought of using a glue stick this way but makes sense, but does it gum up the needle at all? Also really like your stencils. Did you make them? Thanks for the great tutorial.

  7. Nina says:

    The advent pockets are a great idea. I have already bought the chocolate ones this year…next year! I have never seen glue stick used like that but I am so trying it! Thank you!

  8. lindsey says:

    woops forgot to say i love this idea – i too have been meaning to make one for agggges! but never seem to get round to it – maybe this year i will finally get it done – thanks for a great tutorial xx

  9. Ellie says:

    Super Cute.

    I need more info on using a glue stick to hold the pockets in place. I’ve never seen that before. How much glue do you use? Do you put it on both pieces or just one? Do you have to wash it off? I think this trick could be life-changing!

    1. lindsey says:

      hi ellie, i have used this trick before when sewing zippers onto lined items and it works really well just glue one side and stick down it holds well enough to sew over without the peices moving away from each other and saves loads of time pinning just use a little smear as you would glueing paper and no you don’t need to wash it off as this type of glue dries clear you would never know it was there!!! hope that helps lindseyx

    2. Ellie says:

      This is awesome! And perfect for zippers because there’s no good way to pin them. I’m so excited to try it!

    3. Crystal says:

      For this project you just need a line of glue on the three sides of the pocket that are folded under then slap it in place! The glue stick trick is awesome, it is a staple in my sewing room, I use it to tack trims in place, align zippers perfectly and to keep dress linings where I want them when I top stitch. Try it! You will be stocking up at the back to school glue stick sales every year like I do! ;)

  10. Stacey says:

    So very cute! Thanks for sharing the idea and the shortcuts!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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