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Midnight Village Advent Calendar :: a printable activity advent DIY

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

For the past three or four years our family has celebrated the build up to Christmas with an activity advent calendar.  As much as I love chocolate (and I really love chocolate! Make no mistake) I find the advent calendars with candy add unnecessary sugar to our diet and the holiday season is already a super-charged sugar-fest.  Plus, the spirit of Christmas is so much sweeter when we spend time together and do things for others….see what I did there? So, last year, when I was invited to create a holiday post for Skip To My Lou, I decided to design a printable advent calendar with activities; calling it the Midnight Christmas Village Advent Calendar.  I created easy activities intended to encourage family time and neighborhood and community connections. Some of them are a simply as giving each other a hug while others are more complex, i.e. “bake cookies for the neighbors”.  These are, after all, the things that really remind us how much we love each other.  A bit of chocolate or a toy just doesn’t have that lasting impact.  (Of course, if you use my design to make an advent calendar and fill it with toys and chocolate I won’t judge you.  Dude. I get it.).  Anyhow, this year I thought I would share this project here along with a few other alternative ways to use the same printable in a different style.

Random aside, the black and white design was inspired by the book I was reading at that time, The Night Circus by Erin Mortenson (affiliate link).  I highly recommend it.  It’s the perfect book for fireside holiday evenings.

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Midnight Village Advent Calendar–Wall Hanging Version

SUPPLIES:

  • 8-10 pages of light fabric transfer paper such as this (affiliate link)
  • 1  1/2 yard white cotton fabric
  • 1 yard quilt batting
  • standard sewing supplies including an iron
  • printer
  • exacto knife or scissors

PRINTING INSTRUCTIONS:

Open the advent-village PDF and print in two phases.

First, print the first 7 pages of the document onto the FABRIC transfer paper (read the product instructions for how to best use this paper in your printer). BE SURE TO FLIP THE DOCUMENT HORIZONTALLY (see photo for example), this will ensure that when you iron on the images, the text and numbers will not appear backwards.

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Second, print the final page of the document (the activity slips) on card stock or standard paper.  In this case, do not flip the document.

CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS:

Using an exacto knife or pair of scissors, clip closely around the edges of each printed image and the Merry Christmas banner (including any of the add-ons you would like for your top banner).

Cut from the white fabric the following pieces:

  • 1 rectangle 4″ x 16″ for the back casing
  • 2 rectangles 30″ x 20″ for the base and backing
  • 4 rectangles 20″ x 7.5″ for the pocket pieces.

Cut from the quilt batting 1 rectangle 30″ x 20″ 

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS:

Iron one of the long sides of the pocket pieces over 1/2″ and then another 1/2″ to create a top hem. Stitch the hem closed. Repeat for the remaining 3 pocket pieces.

Iron the bottom, long-side, on three of the pocket pieces up one 1/2″.  Do not sew.

IRONING INSTRUCTIONS:

Take the village images you have cut and carefully place them on the pocket pieces in numerical order from left to right placing six images across each pocket piece.  Leave room on the left and right side for seam allowances. Be sure to place images #19-24 on the pocket piece that doesn’t have a bottom fold. Remember to place images #19-24 at least a 1/2″ from the bottom of the pocket pieces to account for seam allowances.

Once they are arranged, evenly and spaced as you like best, flip the images over so you are looking at the paper backing. Following the fabric transfer paper instructions, IRON them in place. Take your time and go slow. It’s a little tedious but don’t skimp on this step.  Once they are completely cooled, carefully peel off the transfer paper and admire your budding village!

Arrange the Merry Christmas banner on the base fabriccentered and about 1 1/2″ down from the top edge of the 20″ side. Add any of the decorative add-ons you like.  Iron in place just as you did with the village.

Sewing DIY   

To sew the pockets in place, you will work from the bottom up. Start by placing the pocket with images #19-24 along the bottom edge of the base fabric.  Align the pocket with the sides of the base fabric and baste stitch the bottom and sides to hold it in place.

Place the fold of the pocket with #13-18 one 1/2″ above the previous pocket. Pin in place and edge stitch along the bottom fold to secure in place. Repeat with remaining two pockets.

To create individual pockets for each advent day, stitch straight lines between each numbered image.

 

Prepare the back of the banner :

Place the backing fabric on the quilt batting, aligning all edges. Baste stitch along all four sides to secure the backing fabric and quilt batting together.

Make a casing so you can hang the banner by hemming (folding 1/2″ and then 1/2″) the short sides of the casing fabric. Stitch the hems closed.

Iron each long side of the casing up one 1/2″

Place this casing rectangle 2 1/2″ from the sides of the back portion you just prepared and 2″ from the top so it is centered.

Stitch along both long sides to create a tube.    

Place the prepared backing fabric right-sides together with the decorated front piece (you will be looking at the quilt batting) and stitch around all four edges with a 3/8″ seam allowance leaving a 10-12″ opening at the bottom.

Gently turn the whole thing right sides out, pushing out the corners and VERY CAREFULLY ironing alone the edges.  Be sure you don’t iron over any of the exposed images as they will melt to the iron.

Slip stitch the opening closed, using a hand sewing needle.  To do so, hold each side of the opening together with one hand and slip your stitches from one side to the other.

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Place a yard stick or long dowel rod through the casing on the back, attach a ribbon to each end and hang it up.Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Now, you can cut up the paper advent activities and slip them into the pockets of your choice!

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitchPrintable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

BTW, because some of the activities I created are simple and others are more involved be sure to pay attention to what days you slip these into so you aren’t rushing to finish an activity on a school night.  You want to enjoy not resent the activities! I speak from experience on this one.

Hanging Garland Option

The other option is to create an advent garland! To make this, create individual pieces and hang them on a string.

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

To make these I ironed each image just as before and then cut the pieces separate.  Next, I simply stitched each separate day onto its own backing, in the same manner as the wall hanging, using a folded piece of fabric on the back to create a small pocket. Once I had 24 individuals pieces, hand-stitched them to red twine.

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Paper Version–The Easiest

If you don’t have time for sewing (or just don’t want to!), you can print the images onto thicker Kraft paper, cut out each date leaving an extra 4″ or so along the bottom, fold over to create a tab and place baby food jars behind each one to hold the activities.  This is definitely the easiest option but still looks really neat.Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

Printable Advent Calendar :: Midnight Village activity advents designed by a happy stitch

My kids looks forward to our activity advent so much every year, I hope yours will too. Let’s spread the love!

P.S.  Isn’t my model the cutest and a complete natural?! I was so lucky my son’s soccer buddy agreed to share his shining smile with me when my own kids refused!

Hand-Stamped Tote with Leather Handles :: Secret Valentine Exchange

Hand-Stamped Tote with Leather Handles! Designed and made by *a happy stitch*

Every year I try to sign up for Sanae and Ute’s fabulous Secret Valentine exchange.  I have managed it for the last two years and that is a good thing because when the deadline slips past me I end up super bummed and kicking myself with regret. The reason I love it so much is mostly because it feels so warm and fuzzy to be a part of secret exchange of handmade goodness.  But, I also love the exchange because it gives me permission and freedom to create something with no real agenda.  Ah, the beauty of open-ended making! This year I decided to make this hand-stamped tote with leather handles and shipped it off to South Korea, it’s new home. Isn’t it great that the secret valentine exchange is global?! I like the thought of sending something made with my hands around the world. It reminds me that the power of the handmade is amazingly universal and these days that reminder feels especially potent. (more…)

Not about Money. Other Reasons to Sell at a Craft Fair

Other Reasons to Sell at a Craft Market! Connections and Creative Fire __a happy stitch

{peg fairies by Sophi Karkeek}

Ack! It has been over a month since I wrote here! I always find it a little embarrassing when I neglect the blog. I do this funny thing where I talk in my head to you guys but don’t match it all up with pretty pictures and non-imaginary words and then lose track of just how long it has been. Silly brain parts.  I just finished up a holiday art fair and had a great time mixed with the usual bit of stress and mental wrestling.  I thought a lot about the financial benefits of a craft fair versus the other reasons I think you should sell at a craft fair and I thought I’d write it all out in case anyone else is pondering these same questions.

The past month has been so busy.  I know everyone can relate to that.  This time of year is intense, man.  For makers it’s even more intense because it’s often the most lucrative time of the year.  Imagine adding to the steep increase in holiday parties, family obligations, school events and gift shopping by having to create ten times as much as normal then promote and attend a craft fair.  It’s kind of insane. I’ve been having heart  palpitations for the last month and I only do one holiday sale! I’m sure other artisans have it much worse.

In the midst of my crazy, stressed-out, not-stopping-to-shower efforts I asked myself, “Is this really worth it?” (more…)

Radiant Home Studio blog tour :: Highland Avenue Houses

Radiant Home Studio blog tour :: Highland Avenue Houses // a happy stitch

There are lots of lessons to be learned in life.  The lesson I learned most recently is that kids are tacky.  They like to take an idea and really kick it into overdrive…make sure everyone “gets” it.  And that, my friends, is the takeaway lesson behind these house pillows.

I was so honored when Sara from Radiant Home Studio asked me to join her 2nd anniversary blog tour! It’s really exciting because I like Sara and find her patterns so useful and effortlessly classy. (more…)

My project for Mollie Makes magazine

I have been bursting with a secret for about a month now but haven’t been able to say anything. So here it is: I have a project in the most recent Mollie Makes magazine! Issue 58 to be specific.  Well, sort of.  It is an exclusive project, meaning it’s included as an insert, a special gift to subscribers.  But, I’m not one to split hairs especially when it comes to something as exciting as this.

A Happy Stitch in Mollie Makes Magazine

(Look! It’s me!) This is the cover of the insert. I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Mollie Makes and just adore this magazine. It’s so good at mixing old crafts like sewing and crochet with a modern aesthetic and pretty much everyone I admire has been featured there (along with new friends I meet all the time).

(more…)

Sunprinted Tablecloth and Napkins

DSC_1076 (1)

Way back (ah, decades ago!) when I was in college in Madison, WI, I met a vibrant, adventurous, elegant woman whose bohemian and artistic outlook was a revelation and an inspiration.  One of those friends whose free-spirited nature stills shapes me to this day.  When she got married this summer I knew I wanted to make her something special as a wedding gift.  I decided to make a sunprinted tablecloth and napkin set. (more…)

Christmas Stitches in August

Christmas Stitches in Festive Fabric Look! Holiday fabric!  Because, you know, sewists are the only people who are sweating it out behind an iron and sewing machine in the dog days of humid August heat while staring at snowmen, icicles and mistletoe.  It’s just a cruel truth.

Sadly, these aren’t for me (though they do have me thinking I should get a jump-start on holiday sewing).  Every once in a while I get to stitch up sample products for Cloud9 Fabrics with their upcoming fabric lines.  I’m so, so lucky to live only 20 minutes away from this amazing company.  Most recently, they asked me to make cloth napkins, potholders and an apron from their Festive fabric line which just shipped out to stores.  As you can see it’s Christmas / Wintertime themed but because it is designed by Jo Clark for Cloud 9 so the prints are cute, subtle and classy instead of tacky CHRISTMAS-in-your-face! 
Christmas Stitches in Festive Fabric (more…)

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