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Monday, November 21, 2011

Advent Calendars Abound

Yesterday was a day of learning for me.  I learned that I buy WAY to much fabric for projects.  I learned why people sew felt rather than iron it.  And I learned that Twilight is the perfect movie to cut mass amounts of fabric too (you really dont have to pay attention to it).  So let me start at the beginning and show you the inspiration for this craft project.  I saw this on pinterest and loved it, but when I saw how much work/sewing was involved I knew immediately I was going to have to modify this a bit. .  Here is a picture of here end project.
Pretty right!  So I had the basic concept, now to get the supplies.  I knew right away that I was never going to sew all those ornaments and all that so I bought some very thin hem tape (which I late realized I could just use hot glue, talk about a ah-ha moment).  I also bought 1 yard of dark green felt, 1 1/2 yards dark red felt and 25 felt squares.  Did you guys know about felt squares?!  They are in the kids craft sections and are typically 4 for $ saving tip right there because I was going to get 1/2 yard of each color I wanted and that was going to be way more expensive.  I also bought a dowl rod to make the project sturdy and I had ribbon at home so I didnt need to get any of that. 

Now that I had my supplies I was ready to get started.  I got the patterns for the tree and ornaments from the about blog post, which I have saved in a better format for you, but arent on this computer so I will load those up later today.  Here is kind of what they look like though to give you an example.

 I decided to start cutting the ornaments since this was probably going take the longest time (I forgot I had to cut the numbers).

Those are all the colors I have for the ornaments, minus the brown that is for the trunk of the tree.  There are 3 glitter felt pages in there too because I love glitter and it helped break up the plain red/green/white ornaments.  Honestly it only took me an hour of slow cutting to get them all done, and I was cutting one by one because honestly I dont trust my multi-page cutting skills but for those of you more talented you can totally cut faster than 1 hour.  This is also when I realized I had bought WAY too much felt.  Each square will cut 4 ornaments easily with a little extra.  Since I only needed 25 ornaments I only actually used 7 felt squares for the ornaments.  I needed 1 additional square for the trunk and will need 1 more for the star but thats only 9 squares out of the 25 I bought, so FYI, you dont need nearly as much as I originally thought.

You can kind of see the glitter ones better here, there is a white glitter one but those never really came across in the pictures.  You can also see the trunk cut-out here as well.  Now that the ornaments were cut, I was ready to cut the tree.

This is my tree and backing felt.  This is also where I realized where the iron and felt dont really mix.  Just so you all know, felt smells really bad when you iron it and the hem tape takes longer to adhere to the felt.  You have to be really patient and also make sure you dont have any hem tape showing (sometimes I dont make it perfect and have some sticking out which will melt off) because with felt it doesnt melt off so be careful there.  You could use hot glue rather than hem tape, I didnt because I didnt think about it, and it also doesnt seem as strong.  Sewing is also an option but I dont own a sewing machine so that was totally out.  Anyway, moving on to cutting the tree.  I had a pattern that I dplicated 4 times, but really I should have done 5 it would have been better, but I made it work anyway.

This is what the tree looked like after I had used the hem tape to secure it to the backing (I cut the hem tape to fit each vertical part of the tree as well as the base and the triangle of the top, for the base I just cut 4 strips to fit the box and ironed it all down).  The hard part of cutting this tree was I wanted to make sure it was fat enough so I didnt use the middle fold to cut (which as we know makes cutting things easier) so I did each side individually.  I realized now that if i had the extra pattern (making the total points 6) and I make it so the bottom of the tree was further out than the top of the tree I could have folded the fabric in 1/2 and cut that way, but we live and learn so you know to do that when you make your creation.  On the excess fabric from the tree...I bought 1 yard because I wanted to make sure I had enough but remember that the felt is folded so if you are confident in your cutting abilities you could get away with 1/2 yard and use the fold tecnique to use less fabric and save money, and the same goes for the backing.  I bought 1 1/2yards but only used the front part so if you get 3/4 of a yard you will have plenty once you open the fold.  I did end up cutting off about 1/2inch from one side to make sure the dowl rod had room to stick out, and I left 2 inches at the top to make the fold for the dowl rod to fit it as shown below.  You can kind of see the fold and that is where you slip in the dowl rod to hang your beautiful calendar.
Now that you have your hem for the dowl rod, the tree hemmed to the backing and the trunk hemmed to the backing you are ready to place the ornaments.  This would also be a good time to cut the numbers.  My husband offered his help with this and I was so happy, I SUCK at cutting intricate things (yes I consider numbers intricate) so it took him about an hour to cut all those numbers and he did double up on cutting numbers at the same time.  The hardest part for him I think was getting all the holes out of the numbers (like the middle of the eight) that took some patience.  Once you have all your ornaments in place, add the numbers and you can get a glimpse of what your finished project will look like.

You can also see the star is here, I have that template in my sheets also which will come later.  Once I got all this in place I realized how much hem tape I was going to have to use and got very discourage...and thats when the lightning bolt came...HOT GLUE!!!!  I started by gluing each number to each ornament (so that when I glued the ornament the numbers wouldnt fall off silly people!) then glued the star to the top of the tree.  Another thank you goes out to my husband for reminding me that I shoudlnt glue the whole ornament down because then I would have no pocket for my amazing advent surprise.  Ok so get to gluing the ornaments, I flipped them over and started gluing the bottom half at the edges only, so an outline of glue around the bottom 1/2 of the ornament.  This whole process only took about 30minutes, gotta love hot glue.  Now that everything was attached to the tree and my pockets primmed and ready I could get to the almost final touch, the ribbon to hang the calendar from.  I didnt have enough room to tie a knot and I was afraid the knot would come undone so I hot glued the ribbon to the dowl rod on each side so it cant come off.  And viola!  A almost completed advent calendar!

I say almost because the most important part of this project is still under constructions.  I decided a while back (mainly becasue I found it on pinterest) that rather than doing candy or just numbers to put experiences in each date.  So for example on one day we will drink hot chocolate and watch harry potter, another day we will make a gingerbread house.  That is what the pockets are for, to put the experience cards in.  Right now all that is left of those cards is to print them off with a cool border and out them in the calendar.  Tomorrow I will post those, Im so excited to share them with you, and hopefully you can add some to your family traditions! 

Here is a recap of what you need for the advent calendar:

3/4yard backing felt
1 yard felt for tree (1/2 yard if you are a good cutter)
7 felt squares in the colors of your choice
1 brown felt square (for the trunk)
1 yellow felt square (for the angel)
1 dowl rod (width of your choice)
1 spool ribbon
1/4 yard black felt
hot glue gun/hem tape/sewing machich (pick your posion)
fabric scissors
tape (I used this to hold the pattern to the fabric while I cut so I wouldnt make a mistake)

Total time, 3 hours if you are a slow cutter, 1.5-2 if you are fast.  Good luck and if you have an awesome advent calendar please share, I would love to see what you came up with!

Project Housewife Out!

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