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Written by Nicole McKenzie on November 10, 2023

Christmas Countdown Calendar

Make a Christmas Countdown Calendar!

A countdown calendar is the perfect way to get excited for Christmas, and this gorgeous sewing and embroidery project is bound to bring holiday joy for generations to come. Featuring 24 embroidered 9x9cm pockets, there’s plenty of space for treats and presents to enjoy in the lead up to Christmas. Now let’s get making

You will need:

Notes before you begin:

  • Pockets have been made with 1cm seam allowance.
  • Calendar back and front have been made with 2cm seam allowance.
  • The pockets are made larger at the top to fit larger presents in them (see step 4c). If you want to keep your pockets simple you can make flat pockets by cutting square pockets and sewing them on flat.
  • I used a Christmas patterned cotton for the front calendar and cotton canvas for the pockets and backing fabric.
  • This project was made on a Pfaff Creative Ambition 640


1.Mark your pocket fabric so you know where to embroider – mark the top and bottom of each pocket (see size info in step 4c) and your embroidery area. I recommend leaving some extra space around each design just in case.

2.Plan your embroidery – it helps to draw a picture – I drew a simple diagram and coloured in the pockets to signify my fabric colours + wrote a list of my wreath styles and the numbers that would go with each wreath

1 – mark fabric for pocket guide

3. Embroider your numbers 1–24 on your pocket fabric. Refer to your Pfaff instruction manual for detailed embroidery instructions.

3 – embroider numbers on pocket fabric

4. Cut your front, backing, and pockets. Dimensions below:

a. Front – cut one at 48.5cm (wide) x 88.5cm (high)

b. Back – cut one at 48.5cm (wide) x 88.5cm (high)

c. Pockets – cut 24 according to diagram – 12cm wide at the top parallel to an 11cm wide bottom (11cm high). OR cut simple 11x11cm squares.
Centre the design on each of your pockets. I made a template with a hole in the middle so I could centre the design and trace my shape onto the fabric before cutting.

4 – mark and cut pockets
4c. pocket diagram

5. If embroidering the front of your calendar (in addition to the pockets) do so now.

5 – embroider front of calendar

6. Fold and press top edge of pocket .5cm towards back and press, then fold over another .5cm to enclose the raw edge and press. Repeat for all pockets.

6 – press tops of pockets

7. Sew tops of all pockets down, stitching close to edge – use Narrow Edge Foot for IDT™ System.

7 – sew tops of pockets

8. Fold and press the side and bottom of pocket 1cm towards the back. Repeat for all pockets.

8 – fold and press sides and bottom

9. Mark your pocket placement on your front piece using chalk and/or pins – see diagram for guidance. You need six rows of four pockets. From raw edges, leave a 17.5cm space at the top, a 9.5cm space at the bottom, and a 4cm space at each side. Leave a gap of 1.5cm between sides of pockets and between each row of pockets.

9 – mark pocket placement on front fabric
9 – christmas countdown cal diagram

10. Place your first row of pockets on front piece and pin in place. This can be fiddly – take your time and double check your placement before sewing pockets down. You will need to pin the sides of your pocket 9cm apart creating a 3D effect – the top of your pocket will sit out and the bottom will lie flat.

10 – pin pockets in place

11. Sew on your first row of pockets, stitching close to edges (approx. 3mm from edge) – use Bi-Level Topstitch Foot for IDT™ System.

12. Repeat previous two steps for all pockets

11 – sew on pockets

13. With right sights together, pin and sew front and back of calendar together, leaving bottom seam unsewn in middles 30cm section.

13 – put front and back together

14. Cut corners off calendar, being careful not to cut the seam.

15. Turn calendar the right way out (WOW – this is a good moment, GO YOU!). Turn out corners using a point turner or chopstick.

14 – cut corners

16. Press outside edges of calendar so they lay flat + press bottom hole closed (with raw edges inside the calendar.

16 – press bottom hole closed

17. Sew the bottom edge to close the hole – use Narrow Edge Foot for IDT™ System.

17 – sew bottom closed

18. Fold top of the calendar down three centimetres (or enough to comfortably fit your wooden dowel). If adding a label do so here. Pin and sew closed.

19. Repeat step for bottom of calendar.

18 – fold top down 3cm and sew

20. Thread wooden dowels through top and bottom of calendar.

21. Tie ribbon or string to either side of the dowel.

20 – wooden dowel

22. That’s it – you are all done! CONGRATULATIONS!

22 – finished protrait

Pocket filler ideas

  • Sewing items – pins, sewing labels, buttons
  • Make up and toiletries – nail polish, lipstick, hand cream, product samples.
  • Kind notes
  • Recipes
  • Chocolates and lollies

Suggestions to level-up your calendar

  • Finish the tops of your pockets as you would shirt pockets, so they look neat and tidy from the top (you will need to add some height to your pocket pieces to do this)
  • Make pleated pockets.
  • Quilt the front – or the back – of the calendar. If quilting the back, your calendar could be turned to face the wall for most of the year to show off your hanging quilt and turned around in December.

Suggestions to simplify your calendar:

  • Embroider simple numbers – the inbuilt Pfaff Curlz font is a great option.
  • Use iron on numbers.
  • Make square pockets and sew them flat.

If you or your loved ones don’t celebrate Christmas or if you want something that can be displayed on your wall year-round, you could use a more neutral colour pallet and a different number of pockets to match the number of days in a month, until an event, or weeks in a year. A treat every Friday for a year sounds DELIGHTFUL to me.

Happy sewing!

Article written by Nicole McKenzie
Nicole McKenzie is a sewist and writer based in Adelaide, Australia. Nicole has been sewing her own garments for over a decade and especially loves to make fancy frocks. Her proudest make so far is her stunning wedding dress, made from layers of silk and colourful floral embroidered tulle. Nicole combines her passions by writing about sewing for Peppermint Magazine and PFAFF. You can read Nicole's top tips on the PFAFF blog and see more of Nicole's creations on her Instagram @NikoletaSews

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