Monday, June 15, 2015

Sewing Project - Advent Calendar

Last Christmas I attempted an ambitious family project. My children had just turned 2 and 4 and I wanted to start some Christmas traditions with them.

We live on a day to day diet relatively free of refined sugars, so I knew from the start that I wanted a chocolate and sweet free advent calendar. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and saw some ideas for daily activities for the month of December so I decided to incorporate those into our calendar. 

While on Pinterest I came across a design similar to this. I wanted to make the tree as big as possible, so I varied the original idea by putting the numbered squares around the outside perimeter rather than in rows along the bottom under the tree. 

I kept it simple by making everything out of felt. Felt does not fray and does not need hemming. For the numbers I used heat and bond lite - it is an iron on applique paper that you can draw on to (remember to make it a mirror image), iron on to the wrong side of the fabric, peel off and then iron onto the backing fabric. It is great for doing difficult shapes.

The first step was to cut out all the shapes and place them in position on the background piece. I then sewed them down. For the Christmas tree, I started sewing from the back most layer, finishing up on the front most layer. For the pockets, I sewed the numbers down first and then sewed each pocket on, sewing around the sides and bottom.

I then sewed on buttons, scattered over the tree, to hang decorations onto. And then began the long task of making each decoration. They were also made from felt, although some were trimmed with ric rac, buttons, embroidery thread or other notions. Each decoration had a backing piece to make them stronger, and ribbon with ends placed in between before sewing up to use for hanging on the tree.

Decorations were placed into the pockets and I made up a card for each activity by printing them all up and sticking each one on a card backing.

These are the activities we did over the 24 days:

  • Learn a Christmas song.
  • Make gingerbread.
  • Make a Christmas craft.
  • See Christmas lights.
  • Decorate the house for Christmas.
  • Make Christmas cards and send them.
  • Go to carols by candlelight.
  • Read a Christmas story.
  • Wrap Christmas presents.
  • Make salt dough Christmas ornaments for the Christmas tree.
  • Watch a Christmas movie.
  • Write a letter to Santa.
  • Colour in Christmas pictures.
  • Write your own Christmas story.
  • Donate toys to charity.
  • Visit Santa Claus.
  • Take a family Christmas photo.
  • Call a family member.
  • Look at old Christmas pictures together.
  • Borrow Christmas books from the library.
  • Make green and red play dough.
  • Play a Christmas game.
  • Give a surprise gift to someone.
  • Do Christmas shopping.

Before we started, I planned out the activities with some strategy. We had visitors from Germany for most of December, so I knew we would be busy. I also knew that on my work days we would be short of time. For busy days, I kept the simple activities. Of course we went away a few times too, so we had to play catch up when we got home. I also thought ahead for activities like carols by candlelight and found out when our local ones would be held.

It ended up being the most fun I had ever had at Christmas. It made us do just a little bit everyday to keep the Christmas spirit going and the usual big pressure that December 25th holds wasn't there for us as we had been celebrating the whole month. It was lovely, and so very sad on the 26th when it was all over.

Our activities list will evolve as the kids get bigger to include more community type activities and we will get input from them on the kinds of activities they would like to do.

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