Sunday, November 20, 2011

pennant advent calendar

I saw this picture online, maybe through one of the blogs I read...I can't remember:

Someone had sold it on Etsy, and I thought it was SO CUTE. I decided to make my own for my sister Denise's birthday because she said the boys love advent calendars, plus she has a new house so this could be a great Christmas decoration.

(update): here is the picture my sister sent me after she hung the ones I sent her:

Well, there was only a picture online, not a tutorial. Hmmm...what do I do? My friend Sarah to the rescue! I work with her and she is a sewing goddess!!! She might deny that, but to me she is!! So she helped me figure out how to make it, gave me a pattern, even went to Joann's with me and helped me pick out supplies. See - goddess!

For those of you who don't care how I made them, just scroll near the end to see the pictures of mine if you want!

So I started making this early, to give me plenty of time for my sister's birthday. I'm putting information here in detail for all those other people who want to make them but don't have Sarah. And please don't be intimidated. I AM A TOTAL BEGINNER when it comes to sewing. I do lots of crafts, but all the sewing I had done before this included sewing blackout curtain behind curtains, and that was it. So trust me, if you can make a straight stitch on a sewing machine, you can make these. Just leave yourself plenty of time.

I chose four different materials in reds for the pennants. I also bought a cheap white cotton fabric to use as lining. So I cut 12 squares (9"x9") of the white lining, then 3 squares (also 9"x9") in each of the red materials so I have 12 red squares total.

Then cut each square down the middle corner to corner to make 24 white triangles and 24 red triangles (6 in each of the four red materials). When I say corner to corner, it's like cutting a sandwich on the diagonal when you were a little kid! I did all the fabric cutting with Sarah's rotary cutter and mat...soooo nice. But you can do it with scissors and measuring.

Now it's time to sew. For all seams I used 1/2 an inch. Just make them all the same if you want to make it 5/8 or some other slight chnge. Put a white triangle and a red triangle together, right sides together (line them up total, I just folded the left corner back to show the right sides together):

As an FYI, my white fabric didn't have a right side so I just picked a side. Sew along the longest side of the triangles. I used white thread for everything (for top and bottom thread) because all stitches are hidden. feel free to use red/white or any other combo you want, but it's not super important. Do all 24 pennants this way, matching each white triangle with a red triangle, right sides together.

Then open them up and refold them as below, still right sides together: (fold them aligned properly, I just misaligned them for the sake of the picture to see right sides of fabrics)

Now sew along the remaining open ends with these two notes: start on the red fabric corner, then sew along the red edge, turn the corner, then sew along the white edge leaving an opening so you can flip them inside-right (yes that's a word!). Leaving the opening on the white is important because when you sew up the opening, it's hidden inside the pennant! After you sew that, it will look like this:

Do all 24 pennants, then turn them all inside-right. Then they'll look like this (and if you look close you can see the opening in the white corner on the left):

Sew the fabric openings closed in the white corners on all 24 pennants. I did them by hand because I was sitting on the couch watching football, but you can use your machine. Just be sure to fold the rough ends inside before you stitch them closed. They do NOT have to be perfect by any means because they will be tucked inside at the bottom and no one will look closely at them.

After they are all sewn closed, tuck the lining into the red fabric, and this gives you the pennant shape. This is hard to describe, so I took a picture of one half tucked in:

So now you should see the right sides of both the lining (if it even has a 'right' side) and the outside:

So if you fold over the pointed top, you'll see the pennant shape take form! Notice you can see the white lining peeking out around the edges:

This may be due to my beginner status, but I didn't care and think it's kinda cute. But those of you with more advanced skills may be able to avoid this. (And the ducks in the picture above are my slippers, fyi) :)

So here they all are sewn close and flipped, arranged pretty!

Then I had to iron them. I hadn't ironed anything in about 7 years, but I was able to find my iron and board. Here is a picture with the wrinkly one on the left, and ironed on the right. It totally helps and is definitely worth the time and digging out my iron.

Now it was time for the numbers. The numbers were going to be rather small and I didn't want to sew them, and I didn't want them to fray. Sarah to the rescue again! When we were at Joann's she showed me this Heat-n-Bond stuff and saved me so much time and effort. It's no-sew, iron only. I also decided to use fleece as the white fabric since that doesn't fray! Here's the awesome iron-on stuff if you have to find it at the store:

I cut a portion off of the white fleece I had and a portion off the Heat-n-Bond. I followed the directions on the bag and you iron on the paper side of the Heat-n-Bond to attach it to the fleece. I found the ironing "times" were a lot longer, but that's because I was working with fleece, not cotton. I was a little nervous about the paper burning, but nothing came close to burning.

Then I had to draw on the numbers for cutting out. I had printed out numbers of an appropriate size and in a font I liked. I did it on normal paper, but I would recommend cardstock or something thicker since you use it for tracing. You really only need one of each number since you can reuse the number to trace.

Here is the key: TRACE THEM BACKWARDS. In other words, put the number face down to trace it. they will look backwards, but that's important! In the picture below are the numbers printed out that I was using for tracing at the top, then below those are the backwards traced numbers. I just used pencil to trace the outline.

Then I cut them out. I used fabric scissors and it was hard because they were small. Plus cutting out the circles in the 8s and whatnot were even harder. I did it over a couple days so my hand wouldn't get too tired! Due to double digits, you cut out way more than 24 numbers. Be sure to keep track of how many 1s and 2s you need because of the repeating numbers. After they are cut out, and then you flip them fleece-side up, they are no longer backwards! (Again, thanks a million to Sarah for this advice because I can't promise I would have figured out the "backwards" thing before I started tracing!)

I took the picture with my hand in it so you could see how small the numbers are. If you made bigger pennants, by all means make bigger numbers! Then as per the directions on the Heat-n-Bond I peeled off the paper (it wasn't too difficult to separate it off enough to peel off) and then set the numbers on the pennants. Then I ironed on! Here is where you have to decide the order you want your fabrics to appear. Do you want them more random? Repeating? Which ones should be next to each other? Then make sure you keep careful track of what goes in what order as you iron on the numbers!

The times took longer again to iron on the adhesive, plus I also ironed the back of the pennant where the numbers were on the front to be sure the adhesive was going to stick. I also just eyeballed the location to where each one looks good - didn't make a template or anything. So then the numbers on the pennants look like this on each of my four fabrics:

I decided they looked a wee bit plain. I went through a jar of buttons I had gotten in a box of knives I purchased at an auction (when you buy a boxed lot, you can get anything in there) and there were enough white buttons. So I sewed a button on the front of the flap - all white but different shapes and types. I did not make them functional. I have never done button holes, and being a novice I decided not to tackle them 24 times as my first try. So I used snaps instead. As a bonus, the snaps I bought came 12 to a pack. Two packs and I was done!

I sewed the button on the front at the same time I sewed half of the snap right behind the button on the inside of the flap. That means I could sew through the entire flap and not have to worry about seeing the thread from the snap, because it's the thread in the button. Then I just folded it down and marked where the other half of the snap should go, and sewed it there. I went through both fabrics for that too because that means the thread was visible on the inside through the lining, but I just didn't care. Plus the pennants will be closed 98% of the time. So here they are with buttons and numbers:

Then to hang them. In the original picture that inspired it all, they were sewn to ribbon. I didn't want to do that because while making them for my sister, she also has a new house I've never seen. I don't know if she wants one row of pennants, two, or three?? Plus to store it every year it would be easy if they were unattached. So I bought some green rope at Joann's and decided to just have them snap over the rope/cord. Then they could be spaced however far apart she wanted, in however many tiers she wanted, etc. They would ship easier to her, and they would be easier to store! So here is a mockup of how the rope goes in there and you can see the snaps too:

Since I had to ship them and don't get to see the final project until I go there for Christmas, I did a little sample hanging on the rope with four of them:

It's hanging on my buffet because I was home alone and needed the knobs on the cabinet from which to string them! Hey, you make do when you need to take a picture for the blog :)

So that's it, there they are! They took a long time to make, but I'm sure for the non-beginners it would go a lot faster. It was great to work on while watching football on Sundays, and would be easy to take some place too (like sewing the buttons/snaps on at work lunches). When I go to my sister's for Christmas, I will take a picture of it in place. I mailed it to her with a bag of fun things to put in the pennants for the boys to open for fun. So I did tell her she had to open her present without the boys in the room. She was so confused until she opened it :)

Happy Birthday Denise!

And thanks a million Sarah...I could have NEVER done it without you!

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Sarah said...

Hey, I just started this exact same project copying the same photo I found on Pinterest. :-) Like, just bought the fabric at the store today. I googled "iron-on numbers for advent calendar", and it took me here. I can't believe you cut all the numbers yourself, but I have a feeling that's where I'm headed since I can't find any suitable iron-ons! Congrats and your pennants looks great! Thanks for the great instructions.

Jeph said...

Uh, Sharon, why didn't you loan me your Sarah when I was doing those crazy insane Halloween costumes yesterday and having all the problems learning how to do stuff. I'm sure with her the costumes would've looked A LOT more refined! ;-)

These pennants look great - interesting idea with NOT attaching them to the rope. So in the original picture, the pennants are always on the rope even after opened, but in your version, you have one less pennant pocket each day because you take them off?

Lots of good tips here for people - the short cuts of sewing a button and a snap at the same time, how to use the iron on adhesive, remembering to cut numbers backwards (I don't think you specified, but was that to avoid having pencil marks visible on the fronts of the numbers?), etc...

I'm sure the boys will love them!

Waitasec. Shouldn't you have done TWO sets of these - one for each boy?? Get to work! ;-)

Sharon Andy Holderman said...

Sarah, I'm glad the instructions are helpful! I'm sure there's some alternative practices, but I found what I did fairly easy...just time consuming.

Jeph, I am NOT making two. Brat :) I try to keep my sewing goddess a secret so I don't have to share her! You're right, the pennants come totally off to get the goodies inside. Although I imagine once the pennant is opened, it will go back onto the rope for will just be empty. The reason you have to do the numbers backwards is not for pencil marks but since the side you are tracing them on is the paper/adhesive side, and that has has to go down directly against the pennant. So basically after you trace and cut, you will end up flipping them over adhesive side down. The flip is what makes the backwards tracing necessary!

Julie Anne said...

LOVE this... although it does seem like a lit of work!
and I have to say, that my iron was MIA for quite some time in my house, too! :)that cracked me up
visiting from Tip Junkie!