Making a Quilted Advent Calendar from Scraps!

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I made a quilted advent calendar this year for my sister from all my scrap fabrics.

I didn’t use a pattern, so I gave myself plenty of time to plan the project.

advent calendar with expanding pockets

This project pulled some techniques I learned from different projects for mini quilts and mini quilt blocks to make a DIY advent calendar using scraps and remnants of Christmas fabrics.

Below is how I made it so you can use the instructions to make a personalized version for yourself.

I made mine up as I went, so I don’t have exact measurements for everything. I have explained the important things to measure and how you can make this to whatever size you want!

quilted advent calendar

Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I forgot to take a photo when I finished it (planting hand on face now…) so this photo was taken after my sister opened it. After being folded up to send from the UK to Canada – thus the wrinkles!

For anyone who isn’t sure – a fabric advent calendar like this one is used to count down from December 1st to December 24th.

Unlike the paper version where you open a window to see a picture, a fabric advent calendar has numbered envelopes or numbered pockets that can hold small gifts or delicious treats.

The idea is that a child will get a little treat every day of December in the run-up to Christmas.

Also in case you weren’t sure – you only put one treat in at a time so we don’t have to worry about weighing the whole thing down!

Supply List

Note: measurements are going to depend on the space you are making your calendar for. I’ll explain all that in the instructions.

  • Christmas Fabric Scraps (plus optional solid scraps)
  • Leftover Batting Scraps
  • Backing Fabric
  • Wooden Dowel

Note: There is a video tutorial and printable version of the instructions at the end of this post!

How to Make Quilted Advent Calendar

What Size to Make your Advent Calendar?

My sister gave me a maximum width of 30″ for her advent calendar. She had a specific wall she wanted it to go on.

She said it could be longer in height, so I made mine about 30″ x 50. It might have been a little longer, but I didn’t measure it properly before I sent it to her!

I knew I wanted to do a rough Christmas tree-shaped idea, but beyond that, I didn’t have a complete plan.

To determine what size to use for the backing panel, I cut out pieces of paper in different sizes to represent the pockets. Then I laid them out on the floor in the layout I wanted.

Because of the specifics my sister gave me about what she wanted to put in her pockets, I made mine no smaller than 3″ x 3″ and no bigger than 7″ x 7″. More about how to make the pockets below!

Planning Your Advent Calendar

I had a piece of scrap fabric with lots of numbers on it, so I cut out numbers 1-24 to use as the numbers on my pockets. (You could embroider or sew on numbers if you can’t find something like this.)

When I had a rough idea of the background size, I confirmed it by cutting out a piece of construction paper. I used paper that was the same size as the finished size I wanted my advent calendar to be.

quilted avent calendar layoutPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

I then laid out the paper pockets I had cut out earlier onto the backing paper mock-up to come up with a rough layout.

I made sure that the sizes of pockets I wanted to make would all fit in the way I was imagining.

The photo above is me repeating this exercise after I had quilted the background fabric.

Making the Backing for Your Advent Calendar

Before I started on the pockets, I pieced together some batting scraps to make one big piece. Read here for how to piece together your batting scraps if you aren’t sure what I mean.

diy quilted advent calender backgroundPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

I used two larger Christmas fabric remnants to make fabric panels. A glittery silver one for the top half and a black and white snowflake design for the bottom.

You can use anything you like but if you want to use lots of colors for your pockets I would suggest going with something more muted for the background.

I quilted it on my sewing machine with straight lines using a walking foot WITHOUT the backing fabric. We’ll add that later.

If you’re looking for cheap fabric, check out my post here!

Cutting Guide for Advent Calendar Pocket Fabric

Once the backing was quilted and I’d done another trial run of the pocket sizes using paper, I started cutting out my fabric.

cutting fabric for quilted advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

BEFORE you cut your fabric you need to decide whether you want to do kind of concertina-style expanding or flat pockets.

What I call concertina pockets are the ones that expand when you put something in them. They have the ability to puff out a bit from the backing, if that makes sense!

Flat pockets are just that, they will be pretty much flat onto the backing. They won’t be able to hold things that are very deep or thick.

So, for example, you could use an expanding concertina pocket to put a small soft toy. But for a flat pocket, you are probably talking about a candy bar or a hot wheels car.

Concertina Expanding Pockets: Cut 1 piece of fabric and 1 piece of batting at least 4″ wider than the size you want the front of the pocket to be.

Flat Pockets: Cut 1 piece of fabric and 1 piece of batting, 1/2″ wider than the size you want the front pocket to be.

For Both: the height can be whatever you like as long as you’ve worked out that it will fit on your backing with all the other pockets!

For Both: Cut one piece of fabric & batting for the front of the pocket and one piece for the lining. The lining piece should be 1″ higher than the outer pocket piece (see my video tutorial for a video of how to cut for directional fabric).

For Both: Since we will be quilting our pockets before we fully construct them, it is best to cut your outer fabric and batting slightly larger than you need. Then trim down when you are finished quilting and ready to add the lining piece. Don’t cut the lining piece until you are finished quilting the outer pocket.

quilted advent calendar Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I folded back the sides of the pockets that I decided to do concertina-style to check if everything would still fit. I did a mix of flat and expanding pockets.

Quilting Your Pockets

I used this project as a way to try lots of different quilting techniques on a small scale.

I did some pockets with classic straight lines with a walking foot, and I practiced different free-motion quilting designs for others.

If you mess it up its only one pocket and you can easily swap it out for another so get creative!

Just like the backing we are quilting just the top fabric and the batting, the lining fabric comes next.

I attached my pocket numbers using raw edge applique AFTER I finished quilting each pocket and BEFORE I added the lining fabric.

Adding the Lining Fabric

Trim your finished quilted pocket front to the desired size (see guide above). Then cut your lining fabric to the same size but add 1″ to the height.

quilted advent calendar lining fabricPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Place the pocket and lining fabric right sides together. Sew from the top of the outer pocket around to the opposite side using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

quilted advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Trim your corners and turn your pocket right side out – use a chopstick or other pointy blunt object to push out your corners and press flat.

Now fold over your lining fabric so the raw edge meets the raw edge of the outer pocket, and then fold again to create a binding for your pocket (see video below if you need a better visual!).

Top stitch as close to the edge of the pocket binding as you can.

quilted advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

If you are making a flat pocket, you are now ready to attach it to your advent calendar.

For an expanding pocket, read the next section.

Expanding Pockets

To make an expanding pocket (concertina style), you need to fold each pocket to the back at the sides and stitch in place to form the ‘corners’ of the expanding pocket.

quilted advent calendar expanding pocket

I’m afraid I forgot to take photos of the flaps from the back, but you can see what I mean in the video below.

At a minimum, you want the folded flap to be 1″ so you have space to sew your 1/4″ seam to attach it and create the corner.

If you make the folds deeper, then your pocket will be deeper.

I didn’t use exact measurements when I was doing this. I folded the pockets and kept checking the pockets against the space I had.

When you are happy with your fold lines, pin in place and stitch down the side. Do this twice – at approx 1/8″ and 1/4″, on both sides.

quilted advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

My Advent Calendar was a bit of an improv style project so I didn’t methodically plan out the size of the pockets. I just went with my rough size guide and adjusted and shuffled the pockets around as I went.

Then, I constructed all of the pockets and pinned them in place before I attached any of them to the backing. I wanted to be able to move them around to get that Christmas Tree shape I was after.

quilted advent calendar pocketsPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

I did a mixture of flat and expanding pockets for mine.

Attaching your Pockets

attaching advent calendar pocketsPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Flat Pockets: Simply pin to the desired location on your calendar and sew two lines around the outer edge (obviously leaving the top edge open!) at as close to an 1/8″ and a 1/4″ as you can get. Don’t forget to backstitch when you start and stop. I find it looks best with a longer stitch length.

advent calendar with expanding pocketsPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Expanding Pockets: You need to fold the flap that is now to the back of your pocket in half. Position your pocket on your backing so that the fold sits directly under the front of your pocket – this will make the fold invisible from the front.

Pin in place and stitch down each side at an 1/8″ and a 1/4″ – backstitching at both ends.

quilted advent calendar with pocketsPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Finally sew two lines of stitching along the bottom of your pocket (sewing through the side stitching lines you just did) again at a 1/8″ and a 1/4″ and again using your backstitch.

Adding the Backing Fabric

I used an old duvet cover for the backing, but you can use whatever you like.

Just cut the backing fabric slightly larger than your calendar if you intend to do additional quilting – you can trim it down after.

quilting with rulers - advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

I played with my new Bernina quilting rulers to make a Christmas Tree outline. Then I added some ‘twinkles’ around the star pocket at the top.

Adding the Hanging

Before you attach the binding to your Advent Calendar, let’s add a way to hang it up!

how to add a wall hanging to a quilted advent calendarGraphic: Scrap Fabric Love

To do this, I cut two squares. The size depends on the size of your calendar. Somewhere in the region of 5″-8″ should work for most wall hangings. Then I folded them in half so that each one formed a triangle.

Pin them to the top corners of the advent calendar, with the raw edges lining up with the raw edges of the calendar.

Sew in place along the raw edges only.

Measure the distance between the two corners and buy a wooden dowel that is about a 1/2″ shorter. This will slot into your two corners, and you can hang your calendar on a nail or hook on the wall.


Lastly, add your binding. I used 2.5″ binding strips, and I did it by machine on both sides.

quilted advent calendarPhoto: Scrap Fabric Love

Video Tutorial for a Quilted Advent Calendar

Printable Instructions for a Sewing Advent Calendar

quilted advent calendar

How to Make a Quilted Advent Calndar

How to make a quilted Advent Calendar using scraps and remnants of Christmas fabrics.


  • Christmas Fabric Scraps (plus optional solid scraps)
  • Leftover Batting Scraps
  • Backing Fabric
  • Lining
  • Wooden Dowel


  • Sewing Machine
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Measuring tool


  1. Piece and quilt the background fabric.
  2. Make paper mock-ups of the pockets and space them on the background fabric.
  3. Cut the fabric for your pockets, either flat or concertina.
  4. Quilt the pockets with the batting on the back.
  5. For flat pockets, add lining fabric to the quilted pocket, right sides together. Trim the corners, then turn the pocket right side out. Then top stitch.
  6. For concertina pockets, fold flaps on both sides of the pocket. Pin the folds in place and stitch down.
  7. Sew the pockets onto the background fabric.
  8. Add the backing fabric and quilt as you like.
  9. Add the hangars.
  10. Add the binding.
quilted advent calendar

Top Tips

  • If you would prefer, you could use an iron-on adhesive lining for your pockets.
  • You can add 2 pieces of ribbon or yarn to the top raw edges of your quilt to use for hanging. Simply place a dowel through the loops.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do you put in a fabric Advent Calendar?

You can put any number of things in your sewing advent calendar.

Generally, there is a small item for each day, right up to the day of advent. Depending on the size of your pockets you can use pieces of candy, jewelry, charms, small toys or handwritten notes.

You can also plan a family activity in the advent calendar for each day.

Do you open day 1 or 24 first?

Although the numbers are out of order on the tree, you start with Dec 1st and open each day until the 24th! If you are using this with kids, it is part of the fun for them to look for the number that matches the day of the month.

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