Hoorah for count-down calendars! I don't know why I love them so much, and I don't know why I don't find a way to use them in every month of the year (or for any special occasion). Since we celebrate Christmas in our house, we do advent calendars, and I have to admit it's just about my favorite part of the holiday festivities.
Last year, I was fully inspired by and in awe of Diane's post about the advent calendar her mother made for her when she was two years old. It's amazing - I mean, check out that giant gold ric-rac. Doesn't get much better than that, folks. Her mom has posted about the calendar on her own blog (yeah, Diane's mom has a blog. How cool is that!?) and it's so cool to see the original magazine clipping that inspired her calendar.
I was dead set to make our own advent calendar this year. We have several advent calendars in the house, but not one was handmade by me. Horrifying, I know. I wrote about my advent calendar class with the Future Craft Collective gals a few weeks ago, and I'm happy to report that I've just about finished up the project! Just in the nick of time!
I'm pretty happy with the results. It's not exactly what I had in mind, but given the fact that I had no real "plans" for the project and just dove in willy nilly, grabbing fabrics, sewing with whatever thread was on the machine I happened to sit down in front of, not really measuring or marking as I went, I don't think it turned out half bad! It was a very freeform project, and that's one of my very favorite kind.
In retrospect, I wish I'd paid attention to alignment just a little bit more, and I wish I'd factored in a little more time so I could make two rows of true pockets. What I ended up doing what just folding the length of felt, stitching all the pockets and then ripped the openings for the bottom row of pockets with some wee scissors. It was an idea we came up with in the class to save time (which it did) but I'm not sure I'm just in love with the results.
I was thinking I wouldn't add numbers to the pockets. The examples in the class didn't have numbers, and I actually liked that - so the kids can pick from any pocket and be surprised. Design-wise, though, I think it needs the numbers to balance out that biiiiiiiig space of green there at the bottom.
As for trinkets for the pockets, for this year, at least, we are going with buttons. most in white (for snowflakes) and some in yellow (for stars). I let my daughter pick those out from my giant bag o' buttons, and she had fun doing that.
All in all, it was a great project. But it has left me with even more ideas for future advent calendars. I have an idea for next year's that I think I'll need to start right now if I want to finish it....
There are also LOADS of crazy cool advent calendars making the rounds on the craft blogs right now. I recently featured this Recycle Bin Advent Calendar from Craftastica over on the Craftzine blog, and I've seen dozens more featured on other blogs. Be sure to check 'em out. And if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to put together an advent calendar for this season, go - right now - and make a note on your calendar for October of 2009 to remind you to start thinking of making one. As you read blogs/magazines/books and see ideas you want to use, find a way to tag them or make note of them so you can revisit them next year. It will be here before you know it. (uh ... yikes.)
UPDATED to add - Kami (fellow classmate and all-around Austin parenting guru ;) posted her calendar on her blog, Get Your Mess On. She's the one with the He-Man bits! Go check it out!