Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Framed Advent/Count Down Calendar-2 Ways!!

WAIT! CAN I JUST SAY HOW EXCITED I AM TO BE SHARING THIS WITH ALL OF YOU? I SERIOUSLY HEART MY ADVENT CALENDAR!!! That is not to say that I won't have a pizza pan one and probably one or two of the others we are planning to share. Can you have too many? Naw, I don't think so, unless you can't find a place to store them the other 11 months. ;)

Unlike my husband's family, my family didn't have an advent calendar that was used year after year. I remember that there were some years that we had Advent Calendars with the chocolates behind the windows. For years I had been wanting an advent calendar. I had been on the look out for just the right one. Alas, I didn't care for the ones you can buy in the store. My sister has a great one that is a little ceramic tree and every day you put a ornament (with a peg on the back) that you stick into a slot and it says how many days are left till Christmas. I have looked and looked but could not find one like it. For years I would look through catalogs trying to find one I liked.

Last November I sat down and worked like crazy to get this done in time for December 1st. Lucky for you that I took notes and have my template saved. Also lucky for you that I am sharing this before November 1st! Unlike me you will have plenty of time to make this before December first. This count down calendar involves sewing and a fair amount of it. If you don't sew, scroll to the bottom and see how I made this with Fun Foam (foam sheets you get at the craft store) the first time around.

First you will want to gather your fabric.

I had found some green holly fabric in the remnant bin that I thought would work well for my tree. I love the remnant bins!! I also found some white flannel fabric in the remnant bin that is perfect for the snow covered ground. I used a small piece of brown felt for the tree trunk. I picked blue fabric with stars and swirls because I wanted it to be a night scene. The swirls in the fabric give me the feeling of snow. To me Christmas should always have snow. Even though I have not lived where it snows since I was 5, I still dream of snow for Christmas.

You will also need:
-25 buttons to hang your ornaments from. I found really cute tiny round buttons, though small hands will have a hard time getting the ornaments on to them. So if you have little ones, get larger buttons.

- snow flake buttons with bails on the backs. I found these at my craft store.

-25 mini ornaments. My craft store had them in sets of 12 so I picked up two sets plus another set of 4. It is a good idea to have a few extra, just in case some get lost along the way.

-A frame But don't buy it till you know how tall your finished project will be.

-Spray Paint





Here are the templates I made. You will need to adjust the template sizes to your liking. My finished project ended up being 25 inches wide by 31 inches tall (outer dimensions of the frame).

Top is 4-3/4 inches high by 5 inches wide.
Second from the top is 5-1/4 inches high by 7-1/4 inches wide.

You will need two of this last section. It measures 4-3/4 inches tall by 11 inches wide.

This will be your template for the snow covered ground. I simply taped two pieces of paper together and did a free hand waving line to represent gentle mounds of snow piled on the ground. You will need to go go all the way across your project.
Lay out your templates on your fabric and pin them down while you cut them out. Once you have cut all your pieces out, arrange them on the background fabric. Pin down only the bottom section.

I layered batting behind my blue fabric and pinned it in place. It adds a bit of dimension to my project. I cut out my trunk and pinned it under the bottom layer of the tree. Be sure to leave space at the bottom for your snow covered ground/ornament pocket. I then ran a straight stitch around the edge of my tree section. You don't have to worry about sewing the top edge of the tree section, it will be covered by the next layer.

I then did a satin stitch (a very tight zig zag stitch) all the way around my tree to make it stand out more from the back ground and give it some more dimension. Again I didn't worry about the top edge because it will be covered by the next layer.

I did the same with the next layer. I positioned it so that it just covered the top of the bottom layer. Keep going and do this with all 4 layers of the tree. I then went back with brown thread in my machine and satin stitched around the trunk.

Now for my snow covered ground. I used two layers of the white fabric since it will become my pocket for the ornaments. The best way to get a satin stitch on the edge of the fabric is to sew your satin stitch, then carefully cut the fabric away on one edge. Keep some fabric glue on hand in case you snip the stitching. You can then tack down the thread with a touch of fabric glue. To do this I pinned my paper template over my white fabric and then stitched along the line I had drawn. The paper will tear away easily when you are done.
Now pin your snow where you want it to lay under your tree. That way it does not slip around while your position your snaps. I used two snaps to hold my pocket closed.

At this point I suggest you lay out your ornaments to see how you want them arranged. You will want to make sure that none of them hang down below your snow pocket. You can use pins to mark where you want to sew your buttons. Be sure to account for the total length of the ornament, including the loop. Sew on all your bottoms. When sewing on your snowflake buttons, be sure to check that they will be inside the finished mat area.

I measured my tree and went to a second hand store to find a frame. Don't worry if the frame doesn't look pretty. I can tell you mine did not but the wood was in good condition. I flipped the picture that was in the frame around and used push pins to tack my calendar to the backing. I left the pins holding the snow pocket in place to make sure my pocket was flat and didn't pull away from the snaps while I stretched the calendar over the matting.

Now for that ugly frame. I cleaned it off and sanded a couple of rough spots. I had some navy blue spray paint that I thought would dress up my frame nicely. Wow!! What a difference a couple of coats of paint can make. You will have to trust me on this because I didn't take before pictures of the frame.

P.S. Anjeanette, you should always put paper under your painting projects. I always make sure to have a large area covered to catch the over spray. ;) That way you won't ruin your lawn or have to scatter rocks. ;P

I ended up with a larger frame than I originally thought. So I needed to cover the sides of my calendar. I used the mat that was around the original picture. However, it needed some love. Please forgive my pictures. I did this last year and worked on it mostly at night when the lighting wasn't great.

I added some ribbon around the matting to dress up what was otherwise a fairly unattractive green mat.

Here you can see my ornaments in their pocket.
I LOVE how it turned out and am thrilled to have a nice piece of art to hang on my wall at Christmas time. Though it does have to hang fairly low on the wall so the kids can reach the buttons. Some day when my boys are gown it will simply be a decoration that I will hang on my wall from Thanksgiving weekend till the weekend after New Years.
I promised you a No Sew version of this calendar and here it is.

Use one large piece of blue Fun Foam for the background. Cut out the tree template shown earlier out of green fun foam. Use sticky dots to tack the tree pieces in place, starting with the bottom section and working your way up. If you do scrap booking, you will have brads on hand. Arrange 25 brads randomly around your tree. You can write numbers in a random pattern from 1 to 25 next to the brads if you wish. There is no snow pocket on this one, but you could easily add some white paper or more foam to represent snow on the ground under the tree. You can hang it on the wall with some removable two sided tape or what ever suits you. Keep the ornaments in a bowl on a stool near by.

I have a million versions of this in my head (ok maybe not a million).

You could use Anjeanette's no-sew fusible webbing and iron the fabrics together. Then all you would have to do is sew buttons (or get one of those button gun things). I didn't sew my snow pocket on to the rest of the piece. I tacked it in place around the edges of the art work that was originally in the frame.

If you like working with paper, you could get some poster board and cover it with a background paper and then make layer your tree on top. Use brads instead of buttons to hang your ornaments on the tree. Scrap booking embellishments will give you tons of options for dressing this up. You can still frame this and make it a beautify piece of art work. To hold all your ornaments you can get brass nails and line them around the frame or just down either side.

If you like paint, I could see this painted on canvas with buttons sewn on to the canvas. Or wood with brass nails to hold the ornaments on the tree. Make the snow pocket into a tray at the bottom.

Too bad I don't need a million Advent Calendars!!

I hope that we have inspired you this week to make an Advent Calendar of your own.

Remember, this is part of a whole week of advent calendars. Be sure to check out #1 which is a magnetic tin advent , #3 which is a fabric candy or activity advent, #4 which is a fabric or paper chain advent, and#5 is an embellished felt ornament and fabric advent!

Merry Christmas in July!!!


P.S This lives behind a dresser in my bedroom 11 months of the year and the others fit nicely in my Christmas storage bins.

Heartfelt and Handmade Holidays


twinkle teaches said...

Christmas in July? How fun! I really like advent calendars. We have several...one I made where you put a cotton ball on Santa's beard everyday. Christmas is the best!
tina :)
thanks for the awesome ideas!

Mama King said...

Beautiful! I love how delicate it is. My daughter who loves all things teenie weenie would love hanging the little ornaments on the tree.