By Jessica Wilson
If you’ve ever gotten lost on the internet looking for holiday ideas, you know that there are a million ways to make an Advent calendar. Here’s my take on the great Advent make — it’s handmade, it’s customizable, and it’s very pretty. There are even a number of ways you can display this little beauty. To get started, all you have to do is gather some fabric and a few other sewing supplies and get stitch happy.
Fabric scraps at least 4″ square 2-8 prints will add nice variety
Needle and needle-threader
Yo-yo makers in two sizes preferably extra large & jumbo (optional)
Cardboard, foam core, large jar, or a length of ribbon, about 1 yard
Printer or markers
Large scallop hole punch
Step 1: Plug in your iron and gather your fabrics. Once you’ve gathered your fabrics, cut 25 squares big enough to allow your yo-yo maker to fit inside with room for dancing. I used two different sized yo-yo makers for variety, and eight different prints that complimented my holiday décor. With eight prints, I only needed to cut three squares of each plus one additional square to make my yo-yos. Iron out your squares and stack ’em up.
Step 2: Begin to make your yo-yos. You don’t need to use a yo-yo maker for this project but I recommend it. It makes the whole process a wee bit easier, especially since we’re using an elasticized thread. The yo-yo maker will ensure that your yo-yos are neat and even, and it will help keep your fingers from being jabbed repeatedly by your needle; I speak from experience here.
You can find yo-yo makers at your local fabric shop or online. Make sure to pick up the extra-large. The orange one you see in the photo here may say it makes a large yo-yo, but we’re cutting it close. Go for the XL and the jumbo, you won’t regret it.
Here’s an awesome yo-yo tutorial if you decide to go old school. For this project, make sure your pattern for your yo-yos is at least 4″ across. A large yogurt lid is a good size to start with. Be warned though, yo-yo making can be addicting; a good holiday flick will help you along as you stitch yourself to yo-yo heaven. Make sure to trim your squares to circles before beginning your stitches.
Step 3: Follow the instructions from the yo-yo maker (check out this video for visual aide), but instead of good old cotton thread, be sure to use a single length elastic thread, knotted at the end. The elastic thread is pretty thick, so make friends with your needle-threader and let it take the lead when threading your needle.
Using the springy thread will make the yo-yo making go slower than usual since you’ll need to double pull your thread through the holes. Once you get to the end of a yo-yo, make sure to go back over the first two stitches, and then, before knotting anything off, remove the maker from your fabric and gently pull both the knotted end of your thread and the end still dangling from the needle. Tie your thread off with a double knot about 1″ away from the happy folds of the yo-yo.
The stretch mechanics of the thread will keep your yo-yo nicely closed and allows you to “open” it for hiding wee gifties inside. It basically works like a tiny coin purse. Repeat for all 25 pieces of fabric, and don’t forget that holiday flick!
Step 4: If you are, unlike moi, computer savvy, hop into your preferred application to create pretty numbered labels for your yo-yos. You’ll need numbers 1-25, and if you used the extra large & jumbo yo-yo makers, these round Avery labels should work perfectly. You could also seek out pretty number stickers from your local craft or scrapbook shop, or if you’re like me, you can grab a couple of sheets of white paper and attack it with your scalloped punch and a Sharpie.
Step 5: Affix your labels to your yo-yos using a dab of tacky glue, and set them aside to dry.
Step 6: Gather up an assortment of tiny treasures to fill your yo-yos. Small chocolates, caramels, and peppermints are good items to start with. Add an assortment of tiny toys and even tinier slips of paper with Happy Holiday assignments or projects, and you’re good to go. Your creativity is only held back by the size of your yo-yos. To fill, gently pull open each yo-yo and insert a tiny treasure. Tug on the thread to close, and tuck the ends back into the center of the yo-yo.
Step 7: Display your Advent! You can pin or glue your yo-yos to a length of ribbon to create a garland that’s both easy to admire and get to. Or cut out a tree or bell shape from a piece of cardboard or foam core and pin your yo-yos on with straight pins. Another option: layer the whole bit of pretty into a large glass jar and use it as a table setting.
With yo-yos, the possibilities truly are astounding! Christmas is just around the corner, so gather yourself some happy fabric, tiny trinkets, and that magical elastic thread and get to stitching! Happy Holidays!
About the Author:
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.