I have, over the past few years found the quickest way to put together the top of an advent calendar due to having to create them in August/September ready for display in the shop for Christmas. It’s not really a job I enjoy so finding the quickest way was a must and doing it differently to the printed instructions too!
1 Cut out the pocket panel as a whole and do not cut down into individual pockets.
2 Cut each row, thereby ending with 4 rows of 6 joining pockets
3 Fold/iron over the top hem of each row
4 Stitch each top hem with a running stitch close to the fold (chain method will save time)
5 Cut each set of pockets on the solid black lines. You will end up with 6 – 2 x pockets and 4 – 3 x pockets
6 Fold/iron over the bottom hem of each pocket
7 Fold/iron over both the left and right hems of each pocket
8 Fold/iron the pleats on each pocket row (1 pleat per row on the 2 pockets and 2 pleats per row on the 3 pockets.
9 You now have all pockets ready and waiting to be sewn onto the actual panel.
10 Take the panel ironed and ready for attaching pockets. I start from the top and work down
11 On each pocket first line up the pleat line and stitch pocket to panel, reinforcing the start and finish (these pockets will have little fingers and hands tugging the presents out so a little reinforcement may help it survive the Advent through, ready for a few more years use!
12 Once the pleat line has been stitched you can sew on the pocket in one straight stitching motion. If you do not feel confident in stitching without pins, now is the time for you to pin or tack the pocket on ready for stitching. Starting at the top right hand side of pocket, (reinforcing the start), stitch down the right side ensuring the seam is lined up with the printed line on the panel. Keeping the needle down, turn the fabric for the bottom edge sewing. Stitch along to the pleat and using the iron marks ensure the pleats are in place before stitching over. Once over the pleat(s) stitch to the end of bottom seam and keeping needle down turn fabric for the homeward stretch of stitching to the top left hand corner of pocket. Finish off with reinforcing the top of pocket.
13 Repeat 12 until all pockets have been attached to the panel
14 Complete panel in your chosen method of layering and quilting.
I chose to bag the panel for quickness. I layered the wadding and panel and did a quick straight stitch following one of the grey lines around the edge of the panel. I cut 4 pieces of gold ribbon for hanging loops, cut each 6 ½ inches in length, doubled over and pinned on the right side of the panel, ½ inch in either end and evenly placed the remaining two loops along the centre top. I then used the backing, Makower fabric in a tonal Christmas red and putting wrong sides together pinned the two together, marking a stopping and starting pin to ensure I left a turning hole. Once stitched all around the edge, I cut the backing fabric to size following the size of the panel and trimmed corners and turned the whole thing in the right way using the turning hole, this hole was then stitched by hand using a ladder stitch. Once completed iron and it’s all ready for your hanging pole.
This panel and solid Christmas Red piece did not disappoint in quality, Makower are renowned for the quality of their cotton, very soft, firm and a nice thickness of cotton. The printing was very good in that the folded pockets once attached lined up very well with the printing on the panel. A great change to the traditional Christmas colours, the gold has a lovely sheen to it without looking garish and the print lends itself well to embellishing to your hearts content either prior to layering and quilting or after. A great panel for on the move, the more you look at the detail on this panel the worlds your oyster for those who love to hand embellish/quilt.