Advent calendar wall hanging

To me December feels incomplete without an advent calendar. In Germany, where I grew up, multiple traditions such as advent calendars and advent wreath symbolize an anticipation of Christmas. The lighting of each candle on the wreath and the opening of each door or little package of the advent calendar are a realization of a count downs to the big festivities.

Commercial advent calendars with little treats, often chocolates, are popular, but I grew up with rather elaborate self-made calendars that contained a collection of often thematically related presents such as little gem stones for my collections, hair accessories or craft supplies.

As an adult, I still like this tradition of making each day in December prior to Christmas a little bit more special by treating yourself or loved ones to a small gift. There are some nice ideas for adults such as story books with a short story for each day, some theaters offer short plays each evening (e.g. here and here) and there are websites that publish virtual advent calendars filled with math puzzles. An other version is a shared calendar where multiple people contribute and receive a subset of presents throughout. For a couple, for example, one person gifts something to their partner on the 12 even days and receives little gifts on the uneven ones. This was the kind of calendar I wanted to introduce my American boyfriend to.

Planning stage

My plan was to make a wall hanging with 24 pockets where the pocket placement and variation in fabric would create a harmonic and interesting look. This way the calendar could act like a decorative wall hanging during the rest of the year. Below on the left you can see my sketch, which I think happened on a long car ride to North Carolina. The second image shows my fabric pull. I like mixing different fabric types and using up scraps from various old projects, which has the nice side effect that it brings back memories of many other projects.


The construction was half planned, following the sketch above, and half improvised. I started with cutting a large piece (~30 x 80 cm with a pointed bottom) of a sturdy fabric as a scaffold on which to attach the pockets. I then added the pockets row by row starting from the top. Before attaching each pocket to the scaffold, I cleaned up the top edges. This way unfinished edges were only visible around the edges of the scaffold. To hide those and provide additional support to the wall handing I added a simple back piece as facing. During this last step I also added four loops at the top edge to hang the banner.

Since I wanted to be able to use this wall hanging as decoration throughout the year, I thought it would be nice to have removable labels with numbers for each day. I made the 24 labels by cutting small squares out of the background fabric and fusing contrasting numbers hand-cut from iron-on patches (like this one). The labels can be attached to a pocked with a small safety pin. I ran out of pins, so at some point I started using regular sewing pins..

The calendar in all it’s glory

Overall this was a pretty quick project and even nearly a year later I’m still very pleased with the overall look. I think the combination of fabrics works well in our apartment throughout the year.

And this is how it looks like a regular wall hanging:

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