It's July and while Christmas always seems far from now, it definitely tends to sneak up on me with regards to my sewing projects on my "like to make" list. This year, I am determined to get a few things done ahead of time and have gifts and handmade decor items ready to go, like this fun Advent Calendar project. 

The Merriment collection by Gingiber for Moda includes a clever advent calendar panel and when our rep first showed us this line, I knew it would be a fun project to work on. When the yardage came and I got to looking at it more, I noticed that I would prefer to construct the pockets (and a few other things) a little differently so I wanted to share my process here with you all. 

The panel includes instructions that have you cut out each pocket individually, fold under the edges and sew them to the panel background. That seemed like a lot of extra work at the iron! And it's July .... so it's hot! LOL

I decided to cut each strip of 5 days as one intact unit.

I then folded (like making pleats) and stitched right along the pocket outlines, trimming the seam allowance to decrease the bulk. 

Sew right next to the line and then trim the seam allowance. 

Once all the numbers were joined this way, it will look like this... 

Once all the numbers were joined this way, I folded under the top and sides, glue basted them in place and top stitched along the tops only. Repeat for all five rows of pockets. 

I then attached the pocket rows to the calendar background by lining up the bottom of the pocket with the bottom of the squares on the background. 

I carefully pinned the row in place and then stitched across to secure, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end. Then fold the pocket panel back up and it should cover the background squares for each pocket nicely. 

Once I secured all the pocket panels, I layered the calendar with batting and a backing and carefully pinned everything in place, including the pockets. 

With a walking foot, I started by sewing vertical lines up the very edges of the pockets - topstitching them to secure, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. And then went back through and did the same between each number pocket. This quilted the panel and secured the pockets all at once!

After the pockets were secured/quilting, I used my walking foot to quilt a few lines around the pockets following the printed design as a guide. 

Then, I used my free motion foot to add a little extra detail to the owl and the reindeer in the corners, which I thought was fun and added a little dimension to the project. 

I trimmed the quilted panel and then made a hanging loop mostly as instructed. I did make sure it was slightly narrower than the project (see photo below). I folded the loop under on the two short sides and one long side and basted in place on the top of the back of the panel.

I attached the binding to the front and machine secured it to the back, which catches the top of the hanging loop. I then tacked the bottom of the hanging loop down with handstitches to secure. 

This project is really so cute! Note that the original instructions does not include quilting and binding this project like a traditional quilt, but this is just my preference. Our kits for this project include the panel, backing fabric, and binding fabric. If you order just the panel, you will need about 2/3 yard for a backing as this is not included on the printed panel. 

Hope this was helpful! 

Happy sewing! :)