If you love the feeling and wamth of a good old fashioned Christmas, then I say vintage touches are a must. This year I made an Advent calendar using vintage upholstery webbing and I love how it turned out!
Make Your Own Advent Calendar with Vintage Upholstery Webbing
If you can get your hands on some vintage upholstery webbing, that’s a great place to start, but even if you can’t, you can definitely source jute or burlap upholstery webbing online. A quick search will give you lots of options to choose from.
My roll of webbing was a second-hand salvaged find I picked up quite a few years ago and I believe it was a full roll that had never been used. The end was stamped with a manufacturing mark, which I cut off and saved for another rainy day project.
This webbing is 3.5″ wide, and I thought it was the perfect starting point to determine the calendar pocket sizes. Along with the webbing, here’s a list of all the materials I used. *Note, you will need a sewing machine.
Materials to Make Advent Calendar:
- Vintage Upholstery Webbing – 21′ length
- Thread for sewing (I chose a colour to match webbing jute)
- Decorative Wooden Spindle – 2′ length
- 1/4″ Wooden Doweling – 2′ length
- 1/2″ Wooden Doweling – 2′ length
- 2x Decorative Wooden Rings to cap 1/2″ doweling ends
- 2x Brass Screw Hooks large enough to hold 1/4″ dowling rod
- Number Stencils
- Black Felt Sharpies, 1x Fine Tip, 1x Jumbo Tip
- Wood Glue
Optional Extras for Calendar:
- Decorative Ornament, one that will hang easily against a flat surface
- Chalk Paint for Wooden Spindle, Dowling and Rings
- Mini Kraft Envelopes for each calendar pocket
- Jute or Cord for hanging
Pattern Layout for Advent Calendar
I didn’t have a pattern to work from, but I was inspired by this woven table runner by Kelly Elko. I love her basket weave approach and used this idea as my jump-off. Such a great way to work with the webbing.
I was really attached to the basket weave, so I mapped it out with pen and paper first. I was figuring out how many strips of webbing I would need, and how long to cut them. I wanted a rough idea of how big the calendar would end up being.
I knew going with the basketweave meant only every other vertical strip would become a pocket because of the under/over pattern in the weave. I was having a hard time visualizing the scale so cut strips of paper to size for a visual mock up. Once the mock up was in place I realized the calendar would end up being quite long or alternatively, quite wide depending on how many vertical strips across were used to achieve 24 pockets.
I decided to let go of the basketweave approach and revamped it so all the horizontal webbing strips sat on top of the vertical strips. By doing this it meant pockets could be created side-by-side on top of each vertical strip. I only needed to decide how much room to leave between the strips, and in the end I went with 1/2″ spacing.
Steps to Make Advent Calendar
There are lots of little things along the way to think about, details that can make or break how happy you are with the outcome. I’ve tried to capture these make or breaks, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I would love to help you out!
If you are planning to chalk paint your spindles and doweling, I recommend you do this ahead of time. This way once you finish sewing the calendar you will be able to assemble it in full.
Step 1: Determine Calendar Width
Decide how wide you want your calendar so you know the spindle and doweling lengths you will need. In my case I already had the spindles on hand so I had to work backwards for this step. I used 2 spindles joined together with a wooden doweling screw and ended up with a total spindle length of 24″. This is how I came up with the width for my calendar.
Step 2: Cut Vertical and Horizontal Strips
Once you know how wide your calendar will be, you will be able to figure out how many vertical strips will fit. It’s actually important to think about this with Step 1. For my calendar I used 5 vertical strips each cut to 28″ in length. This length included enough extra webbing to fold over for rod pockets at both the top and bottom of the calendar.
In order to get 24 pockets I needed 5 horizontal strips. *Note, I actually cut 10 horizontal strips, and I’ll explain why in the sewing steps. Because I wanted the calendar to be framed top and bottom by the spindle and doweling I cut the strips a little shorter – 22″ worked well for this. The scrap pieces you see were place holders that helped me fine-tune where to place each strip.
Step 3: Sew Rod Pockets in Webbing Strips
Start by sewing rod pockets for each webbing strip at the top of the calendar. I folded the webbing over the doweling and pinned it where it needed to be sewed. It’s important to leave a little room and not pin the rod pocket too tight. I measured from the pin to the fold of the webbing, and for my doweling this ended up being 1-1/2″.
Next, I re-pinned the webbing and sewed each seam. Once this step was finished I tested the doweling to make sure it fit. *Note, you will be doing this again for the bottom, but not until after the calendar itself has been sewn together.
Step 4: Sew Advent Calendar Pockets
I mentioned earlier that I cut 10 horizontal strips. 5 of these will lie on top of the vertical webbing strips, and the other 5 will be placed at the back.
When you sew your calendar pockets you are going to sew outside each of the vertical strips, which is why the backing strips are needed. I decided to do this so the pockets would have a little more room and flexibility.
You can’t see the seam stitched along the bottom, but I closed the pocket with a seam stitched very tight to the edge of the webbing. You can decide how deep you want your calendar pockets and adjust this seam to fit.
Upholstery webbing is easy to work with, but also very stiff. As you sew each strip into place and create the pockets you will notice the bulky weight of the calendar as it takes shape. The only tip I have is to accordion fold the webbing to move it out of the way. And don’t be afraid to pull lots of thread length when you’re tying off the seams. It does waste thread but I found it was easier to work around the presser foot this way.
Step 5: Create Bottom Rod Pocket
I used a larger size doweling for the bottom than I did for the top. I wanted to balance the visual weight of the spindle at the top with the finished bottom of the calendar.
To give the bottom doweling a finished look I also chalk painted two doweling rings. Once the rod pockets were sewn I slipped the bottom doweling into place and then put one ring on each end and secured them with wood glue.
Did I mention, I thrifted the spindles and these doweling rings? I had the smaller doweling in my wood stash, and the larger piece you see above I picked up at ReStore for .25 cents.
Step 6: Stencil Numbers onto Advent Calendar
This last step you can do before you put the bottom doweling in place, in fact it’s probably easier because when you get to the last row the webbing will be sitting flat, but I did it the other way around.
To add your numbers you can choose your own layout. I like having the numbers randomly placed rather than in order, but even with random placement I still planned it out on paper first.
I wanted to mix up the single digit numbers and double digit numbers, and I also wanted to sprinkle rounded numbers amongst the straight ones. Notice the blank pocket in row one? It’s the bonus pocket because there are 25 in all, so I left that one blank because the snowman head will cover it.
I used plastic number stencils and black sharpie pens to put my numbers on the pockets. I went with black sharpies but this is where you can get creative and do your own thing.
Step 7: Add Brass Hanging Hooks and Ornamental Touch
The very last step to assembling the calendar is to add two brass hanging hooks to the bottom of the decorative spindle. The Hooks must be large enough for the top doweling to sit in.
If you are adding an ornament for a finishing touch, this is a great time to put that in place. I went with a flat, wooden shabby chic style snowman ornament, but you can go with anything you want. This is the place to put your own spin on your calendar.
Step 8: Pocket Envelopes for the Finishing Touch
The very last thing I did to give my calendar the finishing touch was add little kraft envelopes to each pocket. This is totally optional, but I thought it would be fun! I picked these envelopes up at Michaels, and they came in a package of 25. How perfect is that?
I haven’t decided yet if I want to add a decorative hanging cord or not. If I do I will use a single piece of cord and attach it to each end of the spindle. For now I have the calendar hanging on a nail that is slipped in between the join of the two spindles.
Do you like to put up an Advent calendar up for the Holiday Season? What’s your personal style… do you buy the calendars with the little windows and chocolates hiding in behind, or do you like to make your own? Please share your traditions. I would love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you did 🙂
Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home unless otherwise indicated.