Countdown to Christmas with Joy Margot’s handmade advent calendar!

Hello again! I’m notoriously terrible at leaving seasonal makes to the last minute so I thought that arranging to write a blog post about this advent calendar would help me finish it on time. Full disclosure: I still need to do a little hand-stitching, but it will definitely be ready to fill with tasty treats come December…

I had admired these advent calendar panels last Christmas, but I wasn’t sure that my sewing skills were up to the task. This year, with another 12 months of sewing experience and a fancy new machine under my belt, I fancied tackling something new! I’d love to have a go at quilting, and I thought that this would be a great introduction to some quilting techniques.

I couldn’t resist this thoroughly charming panel by Makower, which I got from Escape and Create.

This project is quite preparation-heavy. I started by cutting out the pockets with a rotary cutter, ruler and self-healing mat. The instructions didn’t say to finish the edges of the pockets, but I chose to do so. I don’t have an overlocker, so I used the overcasting stitch (10) and presser foot (G) on my Brother Innov-is A60SE:

As the overcasting stitch only uses two threads, it was really quick and easy to change thread colour for the different pocket colours. I have used cream, red and black threads throughout this project, and I think taking the time to switch threads has really added to the polished look of the completed project.

With the edges finished, it was time to get pressing! I started by pressing down the top of each pocket, following the lines on the panel:

Next, I used my blind stitch foot (R) to evenly topstitch the top of each pocket. These hems are really tiny!

With the pockets topstitched, I pressed the sides and bottoms of all of the pockets and pleated the double pockets. Thankfully, there’s a little diagram explaining how to do this at the top of the panel.

Once the pockets were pressed, it was time to attach them to the backing panel. I used a lot of pins to keep them in place while I stitched them on. Again, I switched between cream, black and red threads for the different pockets:

I stitched one pocket with my blind stitch foot (R) but felt that the stitching was too far in, so I switched to the zigzag foot (J) and stitched as closely to the gold lines of the pockets as possible.

After attaching the pockets, I needed to add the backing. The instructions suggest sewing the panel, backing and wadding RST and turning out, but I decided to treat mine like a mini quilt, and bind the edges.

First, I cut my backing fabric (I used plain black) slightly larger than the front of the panel. I then cut a piece of fusible fleece the same size and applied this as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, I added a channel for a wooden doweling rod to help the calendar keep its shape: I cut a long thin strip of backing fabric, sewed it a tube, turned it inside out and stitched it to the top of the back panel.

Once I had layered up my “sandwich” (advent panel – right side up – fusible fleece, backing), I added curved safety pins at 10cm intervals over the entire panel, and quilted the edge of the house to keep the layers together. This would be a great opportunity to use a walking foot if you have one! I matched my top thread to the image on the panel and used black bobbin thread so that my stitches wouldn’t show on the reverse.

Next, I trimmed the edges of the backing and wadding, and applied my binding using this method. I made sure I kept the doweling rod channel out of the way when attaching it to the top.

All that’s left to do now is hand-stitch the binding on the back which I’m looking forward to doing in front of a Christmas movie this weekend! I’ve never done a mitred corner with binding before, and I’m pretty pleased with my first attempt.

Thanks so much for reading! You can see more of my sewing projects on my blog and Instagram.


  1. Lovely stuff! And a great blog full,of useful hints and tips. Thankyou!

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