Advent Calendar Quilt

Here's a quilt I just finished. And now it's official...Christmas can come...since my Advent Calendar quilt is finally done! This is the first seasonal quilt I have ever made and I'm planning on keeping it for my family to enjoy.

I started making this quilt last year when we were staying in Arizona in November and December. Since it was just a temporary stay we didn't pack any Christmas decor...and we didn't have a tree. So I decided to make this wall hanging so at least we'd have a tree. I just made this up in my head, so I didn't really think through all the the fact that I had no way to quilt it in Arizona. But luckily I didn't think about that until the fabric was bought and the construction was well underway! I just finished as much as I could and packed it away to finish later. 

I made all the presents out of one charm pack of "Ready, Set, Snow" by Me and My Sister for Moda. I love this was so fun to design all the little presents and choose coordinating "ribbons" and "bows". 

To assemble these I first made the front of the present and appliqued on the numbers (fusible web, stitched on with a blanket stitch in matching thread). And since this is an advent calendar, of course the presents are actually pockets. I wanted a nice finished edge on the top of the pocket, so I cut a white piece of fabric the same size as the present, then sewed the two with right sides together, leaving a small opening at the bottom, and turned it right side out. Easy.

The bows are all appliqued to the background fabric using fusible web and blanket stitch. These were put on first, as was the tree. I marked the background with a water soluble pen so I would know where to put the presents once it was quilted. And then after it was quilted I stitched the pockets on with a blanket stitch. A note about that...use a walking foot. The first 5 or 6 of these I put on I was wrestling with the dang thing and trying to figure out why the heck my feed dogs didn't seem to be doing their job! Then I got smart and used the IDT on my sewing pretty much does the same thing as a walking foot. After that it was MUCH easier. 

For the quilting I wanted something frilly and fun. I entertained the idea of trying to be like Judy (Green Fairy Quilts) but let's just say I was not confident that I could pull it off. Instead, I decided to do something I thought I could easily do and make it look fairly well. So I ended up with lots of swirls. I thought they looked like little cinnamon rolls...and that's fun enough for me! It was rather time consuming, but worth it in the end. I decided to use 2 layers of batting, which I have never done before. And let me tell ya, the finished quilt is STIFF. But I knew I was going to quilt it to death and I wanted a sturdier background to attach the pockets to, so it works. 

I bound it in this cute red stripe, and though I thought seriously about bias binding (you know, like a candy cane) due to time constraints...(I was trying to finish this on Dec. 1st)...I decided against it. Still cute. 

And the tree...the final thing I had to do was sew on a bunch of buttons. I was originally planning on just using green buttons, but I decided to throw in the red and white too, cause I had them, and because it gives the tree a little more interest before all the ornaments get put on...

And...the ornaments. This part was definitely harder than it had to be. In the beginning I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I was going to use as ornaments. I thought of felt...but couldn't find enough cute felt ornament I hate the feel of felt, so that was out. Real ornaments? Couldn't find enough flat ones that wouldn't cost me a fortune. Then I found a bunch of cheap, flat wood ornaments at Joann...but they were the kind you have to paint yourself. I bought them last year thinking that's what I would use but I wasn't thrilled about them. Then a month or two ago I had a stroke of pure GENIUS...

I thought of using these super cute and fairly sturdy gift tags. They come with ribbon already attached and they are very inexpensive--like $8 or $9 dollars for a box of 60. Perfect!! I recruited my sister-in-law Michelle (the gift wrapping queen of America) to get me some at Sam's Club, Costco, and from her personal stash, then I picked up another box at BJ's so I had lots of different styles to choose from. And they fit perfectly in the pockets!! Let the advent calendar fun begin!

Merry Christmas!!

UPDATE: There is now a full pattern available for this quilt! Get the paper pattern HERE or a PDF pattern HERE