Reusable Pocket Advent Calendar

Drum roll please……..

Here it is!  It’s the advent calendar that I FINALLY got to check off my list!  Thankfully, I won’t have to make one next year since it is reusable.  I can just come up with some new cards to insert into it.

We’ve loved it so far.  Everyday my son asks if it is another special day.  I tell him Yes! and we go check what the new day brings.

I took different ideas from the calendars I showed you on this post.

Some of my favorite parts that I took and put together to make mine were:  bright, happy pockets; using a strip of fabric instead of individual pockets to make it faster to sew; the spunky pom-poms hanging down; the dowel rod hanging in the tabs; and the numbers stamped across a ribbon on the front.

I loved the twill ribbon that was used to give a solid color for the numbers to be stamped on, but I was trying to make this quickly and my very limited fabric selection in this town (Hobby Lobby) didn’t have any.  So, I bought some white grosgrain ribbon and a fabric marker.  I didn’t want to spend the money on numbered stamps that wouldn’t get used much.  I tested writing the numbers on the ribbon and it bled REALLY bad.  So, plan B.  I looked in my tub o’ miscellany and found some red double bias tape.  It was too thin so I ironed it out flat to make it just single bias tape.  I was a bit afraid though to make the plunge and write on it after I went to all the trouble to sew the calendar.  What if I mess up on one of the numbers?  What would I do?  So, I still have the option of writing numbers on later, but in the mean time I just wrote numbers on each piece of paper.  And it has worked out pretty nice because each day after I read the card I just turn it around backwards so that we can see exactly where we are on the count down.

I didn’t take pictures while miniacally trying to get this project finished a day before December but I’ll give you a rundown of what I did if you’re interested.  If not, scroll down and I’ll share our list of advent activities.

I used a white cotton that was in the same section of the store as the canvas material.  I wanted it to have a heavier feel to it.  The patterned material was in the holiday section of the cotton apparel fabric.

I cut the 6 pockets to be about 7×15 inches.  The background piece was cut 15×52  inches.   The 2 tabs are cut 5×10 inches.

I sewed the pockets first by folding them in half like a hotdog and sewing right sides together.  I then turned them right side out and ironed them.

I didn’t feel like sewing all the bias tape so I used some fusible webbing I had on hand to iron it all on.  You can do it either way.   Make sure to cut the ribbon or bias tape a little longer than the pockets so you can fold it behind the pocket for a cleaner look.

Next, I sewed the pockets onto the white fabric.  I folded the white fabric in half like a hamburger and had it sitting so that the fold was at the bottom.  You want the top to be open so that you can sew your tabs up there when you sew it all shut.  The pockets are each spaced one inch apart.  I left a little more room  above the top pocket row, about an 1.5 inches, because I needed room for my paper to stick up.  Pin the pockets on.  I had had the pocket fabric facing so that the folded side without the seam is at the top.  That will give the cleanest look.  Sew the pocket to the white fabric by going around the sides and bottom of each pocket strip.  This will also sew the hole closed on each pocket from when you turned it right side out.

Next, sew the 3 lines about 3.5 inches apart to make the individual pockets.  I used a ruler and a disappearing ink marker to make a dot at the bottom and top of each pocket so I would sew a straight line.   I sewed starting from the bottom of the pockets up to the top.  This helps the presser foot not get caught on the open side of the pocket.  My very most right pockets are slightly larger than the rest but not enough to worry about.

Fold the tab fabric over like a hotdog and sew just the long side.  Turn them right side out and iron.

Now, you finally get to turn the white fabric so that it has sandwiched the pockets on the inside.  Pin the tabs to it so that they are on the inside of the calendar next to the pockets.  You should have the raw edges facing out and the loop facing inside.  If you pin it on so that it already looks correct it’ll be inside the calendar once you turn it right side out.  Sew all the way around the open edges leaving a hole open near the bottom so you can turn it right side out.  You will sew over the tabs at this point too.

Turn the calendar ride side out and iron it flat.  Sew around the entire edge.  This will close up the hole on the edge and make it look finished.

Cut a dowel rod and slide it in.  Mine is 14 3/4 inches long.  I just made it the same as my calendar.

You can hang it directly from the rod or from some ribbon or yarn like I did.


It took me probably around 3 hours total to make this.

I know it can be confusing to read instructions without pictures.  Please let me know if you have ANY questions.

It is a fairly easy project for someone with a bit of sewing knowledge and the rewards are big!  And you can totally personalize it to make it YOU.  If you ever make one, please send me a picture.

Here is our list of advent fun in no particular order.

Make cookies

Watch a christmas movie and have popcorn

Make salt dough ornaments

Paint salt dough ornaments and hang on tree after dry

Go to the Trail of Lights

Read a Christmas book (we’re doing this 4 days)  I put them on days that are really busy for us.  I’ll also put a little chocolate in the pocket on those days.

Play a game – we’re going to do candyland

Make ornaments for family (we buy ceramic and wood ornaments from hobby lobby every year for the kids to paint for all the grandparents etc.) I made this one go for 2 days since their attention spans are short.

Make candy/cookies for neighbors

Give cookies to neighbors

Drive around and look at lights in town

Make a fire and drink hot chocolate (or chocolate milk since the kids don’t like the hotness)

Go to the church choir concert

Go caroling with the church

Buy gifts for angel tree and wrap them

Unwrap one present before bed (chrismtas eve) and Christmas eve service

Go see movie muppet movie

Go to kid’s christmas party at church

Go to Sights n Sounds Festival

Read the christmas story from the Bible

Of course there are a ton more ideas out there on the web.  When the kids get a bit bigger I definitely want to do some more service type things to help others.  They’ll also be able to make their own christmas cards and gifts etc for others.

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