Woodland wildlife advent calendar

Woodland wildlife advent calendar

At a recent show, someone suggested I make an advent calendar with my animal designs. I had been already been toying with the idea and that decided it! 

When I was a kid, I persuaded my parents to buy me quite an expensive advent calendar. It was a 3D card grandfather clock that had mice running all over it doing various Christmassy things. I loved that advent calendar so much that I kept on using for years after and refused another. I enjoyed rooting around for it in the cupboard and bringing it out every year. It was the first sign that Christmas was coming.

It would be nice to think that some excited child, come 1st December, would be rooting around in the cupboard for their woodland wildlife advent calendar, wondering what goodies the adults were going to place in the pockets this year and looking forward to Christmas. 

To make this advent calendar (approximately 35 1/2 inches x 45 1/2 inches or 90 cm x 115 cm) you will need:

1 x woodland wildlife advent calendar strip 

6 x fat eighths  (I have used a special bundle, that I made up specifically for this project, containing both woodland and winter designs)

1 metre of background fabric (I used dark red)

Wadding / batting slightly bigger than the size of the finished calendar

4m, approximately, of binding (I used dark green)

Sewing and quilting thread. 


1. Cut the woodland wildlife strip into rectangles approximately 4 inches wide x 4 1/2 inches high using the marks as a guide. 

2. Now cut the rectangles more carefully so that they are 3 1/2 inches wide x 4 inches high. Don't just cut off 1/4 from each side! Make sure the animal design is central width-ways and there is at least 1/4 inch below the design for the seam allowance. There should be more space above the animal than below. 

3. Each of the 6 fat eighths should be cut into:

4 x rectangles 4 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches

8 x strips 5 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches

4 x strips 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches

Make sure the fabrics are in the correct orientation. The best way of doing this is shown in the photo below:

 4. Allocate one rectangle, one short strip and two long strips to each animal rectangle. I laid out the animal rectangles in the tree shape and gave each one four different designs. I made sure that no designs would end up next to each other on the calendar. I didn't have much room on my table and so they ended up on top of each other!

5. Take the fabrics required for one block:

 6. Take the animal rectangle, turn it over and mark 3 1/4 inches up from the bottom using 2 small marks at the sides. 

7. Fold over the top to meet the marks and press.

8. Fold the top over again, this time at the marks, and press.

9. Sew along the fold 1/4 inch from the top.

10. Place the animal square on top and at one end of the patterned rectangle, making sure that the patterned fabric is in the correct orientation. Then place the short strip on top of the animal square at the bottom end, right sides together, making sure that it will be in the correct orientation when opened out. Pin and sew along the bottom. 

11. Press the seam away from the central animal square.

12. Pin the 2 long strips to the sides of the sewn piece, one on each side, right sides together and making sure that the patterned fabrics are in the correct orientation.

13. Sew along each side edge.

14. Press the seams away from the central square.

15. Repeat for the other 23 animal blocks. 

16. Trim each block so that it is as close to 5 1/2 inches square as possible.

17. Place the blocks in the shape of a tree as shown below:

18. Pin and then sew each row of blocks together at the sides. Do not start sewing the rows together! That's later. 

19. Cut the background fabric into strips 5 1/2 inches wide. Then cut (see photo below):

2 x 15 1/2 inches long

4 x 13 inches long

2 x 10 1/2 inches long

2 x 8 inches long

2 x 5 1/2 inches long

2 x 3 inches long

2 x approximately 37 inches long (this is a bit big but gives you some leeway)

This would be a good time to add any extra embellishments or personalise the calendar. You could add things such as bows or beads, or appliqued stars or writing, such as the child's name or seasons greetings.

20. Pin and then sew the central block piece and two side background pieces in each row together at the sides in the positions shown in the photos.

21. Now you need to sew the rows together. To make sure they are in the correct position, mark the centre of each row with a pin and match it with the centre of the one you are sewing it together with. Pin and sew. Press the seams open or to one side (all the same side).

22. Carefully press the front. I always put a clean cotton cloth between my work and the iron.

23. Trim the edges to make it an even rectangle. Quilt and bind in the usual way. 

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