Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Snowing! Advent Calendar & Bonus Table Topper + tutorial

I won a charm pack of Moda's It's Snowing quite a while back and I finally found the perfect project for it!

This year I'm hoping we can be more intentional in our anticipation of Christmas Day and what it means that Jesus came to earth that night. As part of that, I designed this Advent calendar, with the intention to put a card in each pocket with some scripture and an activity.

The charm pack had 37 squares, so after I was finished I had 12 left - paired with the same aqua and red that I used for the calendar I came up with this table topper as a happy bonus!

So here is a little tutorial in case you want to make your own Advent calendar this year!

Materials for Advent Calendar
1 charm pack (It's Snowing! by Deb Strain)
1 1/2 yard fabric for base/backing (53"x25")
26" long wooden dowel or narrow flat strip of wood
coordinating grosgrain ribbon
batting or interfacing
coordinating 1/2" single-fold bias tape
coordinating fabric for binding
Additional materials for table topper
18"x25" fabric for backing (will fit from the base fabric leftover from the calendar)
12 coordinating solid 5" squares
coordinating fabric for binding

First decide on 25 squares of the charm pack to use for the calendar (the leftovers, 12 if you have a pack of 37, can be used for the table topper). Arrange them in 5 rows of 5 and then sew each row together using 1/4" seam allowance. Then bind the top edge of each row with the 1/2" single-fold bias tape.

All the pocket rows pieced together with bound top edges.

Turn under the sides and bottoms of each row 1/4" and press. I first basted 1/4" all around the edges to make it easier to press.

From the base/backing fabric, cut a piece that measures 53"x25". Fold it in half (hamburger-style) wrong sides together, and sandwich either a piece of batting or interfacing between the two layers. The fold will be the top of the calendar and a casing for the dowel. (Alternatively you could use two different fabrics for the base and the backing and seam them at the top.)

Arrange the pocket rows on the base and pin. There should be at least 1" of the base fabric on all sides of the pockets, excess can be trimmed later. Topstitch the sides and bottoms of each row about 1/8", securing at each end with a backstitch. (see white stitching lines)

Then topstitch down the full length of the calendar, through all 5 rows of pockets from top to bottom and then back up again, 1/8" on each sides of the seam lines, securing at the beginning and end.

Now you should have 5 rows of 5 pockets each, with the bound edge of each pocket open.

You can use applique, embroidery, fabric paint/etc if you want to put on the numbers 1-25 on each pocket. I still want to find some small chipboard numbers I can hang from each pocket with ribbon...

Trim the sides of the calendar base to 1 1/4" around the pockets and the bottom to 1". Then fold under 1/4" and press the edges at the fold where the dowel will be going through; stitch. (pic1) Trim 1/4" from the sides to meet up with the casing edges. (pic2)

Bind all around the sides and bottom of the calendar, folding under the binding at the beginning and end for a neat finish. Then push the dowel through the casing. Determine the length of ribbon needed to hang the calendar and cut. Tie a bow at the centre of the ribbon and hot glue or handstitch the ends at the back of the calendar. Hot glue or handstitch a bow at each side over the ribbon.

Your Advent calendar is now ready for the pockets to be filled and hung!

Table Topper
The table topper is pretty simple - just half-square triangles (I used method #2 here) pieced from the remaining 12 charm squares and 12 solid squares.

Cut 12 5"x5" squares from the coordinating solid. With fabric pen and ruler, mark a diagonal line across each solid. Pair each solid with one charm square.

Right sides together, stitch across each pair of squares, 1/4" on each side of the marked line. I chained stitched all of them one way, turned the whole line around and back up.

With rotary cutter and ruler, cut each stitched pair in half along the marked diagonal line.

Once they were all cut, pressed, and trimmed, I was able to play around with arranging them - I chose a chevron pattern, but you could also do pinwheels or diamonds or flying geese... Here are some of the chevron layouts I was playing with (excuse camera phone pics):

Sew each row of your chosen layout together, being sure to match points. Layer backing, batting and top and quilt! I did a simple 1/4" echo inside the solid chevron. Then trim and bind and you're done! Bonus Christmas table topper!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013 - Attack of the Gauls!

Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix came knocking tonight!

Ian chose Asterix when his school had Book Character Dress-up Day this month - Asterix is his favourite comic! Obelix and Dogmatix are obvious choices for the other kids.

Asterix's pants/shirt/belt were from my friend and I was just going to make the hat, mustache and sword and keep it at that - until the night before dress-up day when he was very sad there was no sheath and no magic potion bottle. So I spent a couple of hours sewing up some leather scraps and Asterix was very happy.

A paint stir stick with some carved detail and a bit of paint made a nice sword and I just sewed the leather sheath onto the belt. (ICK! sewing the sheath was a pain. I ended up handstitching the tip because my machine wouldn't make stitches through 4 layers of leather.)

Bottle with magic potion inside (just some scraps of leftover tshirt fabric):

I couldn't figure out why Benjamin was reluctant to be Obelix until he said, "I'm not fat. I don't want anyone to think my tummy is so big!" He changed his mind when I assured him everyone would know there were pillows stuffing his pants... Speaking of which pants, really simply made - I just took a pair of his pants as a pattern, cut the pieces kind of in gores, extended for the torso part, all bargain sweatshirt fleece. Obelix's "chest slipped" (heehee) till I added a pair of straps to hold the pants up. The belt circles are craft foam with fabric glued on, attached to the pants by snaps so if it needs washing they come off.

The helmets: I simply draped an old tshirt over each boy's head and covered it with duct tape. The knobs are balls of tinfoil covered in duct tape, the feathers are layers of white craft foam cut to shape. Both mustaches are yarn tied to clear elastic, looped over the ears. Obelix's braids are also yarn, tied with fleece bows and attached inside his helmet.

Dogmatix: I pieced together the hoodie from largish scraps of white and black fleece on the shelf, added ears with a strip of boning inside each, and pinned a tail onto her (bought) black pants. Abigail's favourite part was the black nose! Here she is, stuffing her puppy face with chocolate and drooling over her spoils of war: