Making a Fiber Arts Advent Calender

2017/18 advent calender

Advent, also known as Count-down to Christmas, is only two months away and I am back working on my newest advent calender. It is all fiber arts, very big (30"x40"), and a work in progress! As you see it in the image above, it was at the point of being usable last holiday season (2017 season). But by no means completed.

The story I am sharing in this post is more of a guideline to how it was constructed. I am not offering specific patterns because I see this as an artful process that reflects the many media of creative expression I most enjoy. My hope here is to point you in your own direction, to engage your own muse, and reflect what you love.

At this point I have actually removed the "snow" and the blue tree topping the building on the left. I really don't like either. Snowflakes, embroidered, appliqued and shisha, will fill the sky and some may drift down onto the village itself. Pine trees and rose hips will frame the scene and more embellishment is needed on some houses. These are the directions I am heading now and will share the results near the beginning of advent.

So....enough intro! Let's start at the beginning!

2017/18 advent calender construction

I joined a Christmas Club featured on Carina's Craft Blog a couple years ago. 24 holiday themed miniature embroideries - approximate dimensions 3"x 3". Very soon after beginning this delightful project, I noticed a village themed quilt on an Instagram post and the idea was "born". I would create a felt Christmas village and hidden behind windows and doors would be this set of tiny embroideries.

2017/18 advent calender

2017/18 advent calender

2017/18 advent calender

I purchased roving that wet felts easily and made my own felt following the many tutorials that exist around the web. They all employ pretty much the same techniques. I placed my layers of fiber on bubble wrap, added a layer of mesh, bubble wrap, thin packing foam, and rolled this up inside a cheap plastic place-mat secured with rubber bands.  The placemat provided just the right amount of stability while rolling the bundle. I suggest purchasing your roving from Living Felt. The lovely staff will point you to the right choices.

2017/18 advent calender construction

Design and draw your village at life size or use graph paper and draw at reduced scale. Cut out your pattern pieces and lay out on your calendar background. Once you are satisfied with the patterns, cut the felt and lay it in place.

2017/18 advent calender construction

Working piece by piece, begin cutting the "windows" and "doors" by referring to your original design. I measured mine on the paper pattern and used the measurements to mark my felt houses before cutting. As my designs are a little less that 3" x 3", I used that as my guide for the dimensions of the openings.

2017/18 advent calender construction

Once all openings have been cut, press each embroidery and place it behind an opening, pin and then tack in place.

I used a heavy manufactured wool felt for the background, so at this point I needle felted the felt houses right onto the background. It took awhile but it was actually very enjoyable. I would be very surprised to find felting foam in two foot x two foot sizes, and I do have a very large supply of packing foam so I simply stacked up many layer of packing foam to make a base for the needle felting process. It works beautifully. If you haven't saved your own supply, it is available where packing materials are sold. Or purchase a felting pad from Living Felt.

2017/18 advent calender construction

Next step...embellishing the houses, windows, doors, and the village itself. To me this is the most fun. I am finding wool embroidery thread and hand made felt are made for each other.

2017/18 advent calender construction

All the felt cut to create window and door openings became the doors and windows used to hide the embroideries. They were embellished to reflect many of the fiber and other crafts I enjoy: crochet, tin, shisha, knitting, needle felting, terniffe...even an Arne and Carlos Christmas ball!

The white tree (in first image) is cut to resemble Danish paper cutting and embroidered using patterns purchased from Carina Craft Blog shop. The Snowman, Santa and Penguin (also appearing in the first image) are designs purchased from the Seasons of Joy Etsy shop...crayon bonded to fabric and then embroidered. I will share more in the next post about both.

2017/18 advent calender construction

All those little doors and windows are hung from tiny tiny tiny pompoms available at most craft stores. Mine are hot glued in place. So far that system is working very well. Each door is numbered and simply removed as the count down progresses.

I hope this will inspire you to create your own count down calendar using the skills and techniques that appeal to you...quilting, paper, fun felt, regular felt, weaving........there are so many, many possibilities. Let your imagination be your guide.

And watch for the follow-up post in late November! My countdown calendar will look much different than it does now!!!