This post is a part of the Celebrate the Holidays Blog Tour hosted by Sewing by Ti. More details about the other great blogs on the tour are at the end of the post.
The first time I saw the Purl Soho Felt Advent Calendar, I was smitten. I pinned it to a Pinterest board, but then left the tab up for days. I needed it in my house. But it was expensive and looked time-consuming, so as the Christmas season passed by, I let the idea of the calendar pass, too. This happened on repeat, like Groundhog’s Day, for three years—yearning, waiting, and procrastinating. When the calendar popped up in a promotional email this October, I decided I couldn’t let another year go by. It was time to create the perfect felt advent calendar.
Kit or No Kit
Purl Soho (no affiliation) sells kits for the Felt Advent Calendar on their website for $98, but they also sell the pattern on its own for $15 if you want to assemble your own supplies. I spent days trying to find good sources for wool felt and flat sequins. I searched and compared prices until I finally decided that I wanted to simply buy the kit and get to the exciting part: making. But, by the time I came to my senses, the kits were sold out! Sigh. Unwilling to wait for a restock, I ended up gathering my own materials after all.
In the end, sourcing the supplies for my felt advent calendar myself was a good money saver. I was able to reduce my costs by about $30 without sacrificing material quality. In the comments on the original calendar post I discovered that the kit provides a lot more felt than is needed to create one set of calendar ornaments (each piece of 8”x12” felt will make 6+ ornaments). I convinced a friend to make one too, and we were able to share our felt (and thread, marking pens, shipping costs, etc.) and save a lot of money that way. We could’ve saved even more if we had invited one more friend. Buying for three is probably the most economical route.
I bought my pattern and beads and sequins directly from Purl Soho. I had a hard time finding a better source for flat, 4mm sequins and seed beads in corresponding colors. Plus, I love the color palette in Purl Soho’s kit. They sell just the beads and sequins for their Felt Advent Calendar on their website for $12. And they give you a generous amount. I still have a bunch left and I plan to use them to make more little ornaments for my daughter’s mini Christmas tree.
I bought my felt from an online shop called Weir Crafts. Surprisingly, they are located in Ann Arbor, just a few miles from where I live! They have great prices on 100% wool felt and I was able to do local pickup to save on shipping. As far as I can tell, the felt they sell is identical to the felt that Purl Soho sells on their site, but Weir Crafts doesn’t mention the brand name. I had to make some educated guesses on colors, but I’m really happy with how the colors work together.
The rest of the thread, embroidery floss, needles and other materials came from my local Jo-Ann Fabrics.
Skip: the Heat Transfer Pencil
One supply list item that I don’t think you need is the heat transfer pencil. The pattern instructs you to use a heat transfer pencil to transfer the numbers for the pockets onto the felt for hand embroidery. After applying lots of heat and spending lots of time, I was barely able to get the markings to appear on my felt. I mostly ended up tracing the templates with my air/water-soluble marking pen. If I was doing it again, I’d skip the heat transfer pencil altogether.
Don’t Skip: the Needle Threader
I am experienced at threading needles. I didn’t even own a needle threader before this project. But, I highly recommend you buy one for threading your beading needle. Beading needles have impossibly small eyes. If I didn’t have the right tools, I would’ve spent more time cramming thread through the eye than sewing!
Making the Calendar
Making my felt advent calendar was a blissful experience. I loved sitting on my couch and stitching away. I felt like I belonged in a Jane Austen novel—so I watched a bunch of movie adaptations of her books while I worked.
I’ve never done much hand stitching except for blind hemming garments. Thankfully, the pattern instructions were easy to follow, and so I quickly learned all of the stitches I needed to create my calendar. My hand sewing skills are a lot better now than they were before I started!
I have always spurned thimbles, but now that my finger tips resemble those of my overly-poked, diabetic husband, I have discovered why people like them. You might want to grab one if your fingertips are sensitive, or if maintaining feeling in them is important to you.
A Better Way to Hang Your Calendar
If you look at the pictures of the advent calendar on Purl Soho’s website, you will notice that the top corners of the calendar (where the hanger attaches to the dowel) are scrunched. To avoid this issue, I used a slightly longer dowel (16” instead of 15”) and made a small notch in either end for the embroidery floss to sit in. This prevents the embroidery floss from pulling on the felt channel, while still keeping it secure. I used a Dremmel tool to create the notch, but a thin wood saw would work just as well.
Just in Time
My calendar is just as beautiful as I had dreamed it would be—even after all of those years of anticipation. And I finished it just in time for the Christmas countdown! I’m excited to hang my first ornament on the tree today. This is one holiday decoration that I know I will cherish for many years to come.
Celebrate the Holidays Blog Tour
Check out the other talented bloggers that are participating in our Celebrate the Holidays Blog Tour:
Dec 1 | Sewing By Ti and Octaves of Color | Dec 3 | Me Made | Dec 4 | Sew Sophie Lynn | Dec 5 | Hazelnut Handmade | Dec 6 | Tales from a Southern Mom | Dec 11| Tenille’s Thread| Dec 12 | MNW Sews | Dec 13 | Mahlica Designs | Dec 14 | Very Blissful | Dec 15 | Stitched by Jennie | Dec 18 | Kate Will Knit | Dec 19 | Sewing by Ti | Dec 20 | Vicky Myers Creations | Dec 21 | Margarita on the Ross | Dec 22| Auschick Sews | Dec 23| Shalini’s Blog | Dec 26 | Seams Sew Low | Dec 27 | EYMM | Dec 28 | Sew Like a Sloth | Dec 29 | Sewing By Ti | Dec 30 | Kathys Kwilts and More | Dec 31 | Embrace Everyday |
Happy sewing and happy holidays!