This stitched Advent calendar celebrates the Bible Christmas story and includes Nativity figures. Slip verses or small gifts into each pocket for the 25 days of Advent.
1. Download and print the free patterns. Set the Nativity figures aside (to be enlarged later, see step 15). Enlarge the hill, stable, and star patterns; set aside.
2. To make the number patterns, type numbers 0 through 9 in the font of your choice on a computer. Enlarge the numbers to 1-1/2 inches tall. Print the numbers on sheets of typing paper; cut out.
3. Apply paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side of the gray wool, following the manufacturer's instructions. Place the number patterns facedown on the paper backing. Draw around the number patterns to make numbers 1 through 25. Cut out the fabric numbers.
4. Apply lightweight fusible interfacing to the back of a midnight blue fat quarter. Cut 25 3-inch-square pockets from interfaced wool, pinking the top edges. Remove the paper backing from the numbers, and center a number on each pocket (1 through 25); fuse in place.
5. Use matching thread and a narrow satin stitch to sew around the number edges.
6. For the background, use a 30x36-inch rectangle of midnight blue or sew together the long edges of two midnight blue fat quarters using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.
7. To aid in pocket placement, use 1-inch-wide painter's tape to make a grid on the background, positioning the first horizontal strip 12 inches above the bottom edge. Position five more horizontal strips of tape on the background, spacing them 3 inches above the last strip. Place the first vertical strip of tape 4 inches from the left-hand edge of a pieced background or 5 inches from the left-hand edge of a 30x36-inch rectangle. Add five more vertical strips, each 3 inches from the last.
8. Place the pockets on the background in numerical order, positioning one on each grid square. Sew 1/8 inch in from the pocket edges, leaving the top pinked edges open.
9. Cut out the patterns as indicated, noting the suggested wool color. Use the patterns to cut the hills from gray and midnight blue wool; the stable pieces from dark brown, medium brown, and beige wool; and the star from cream wool.
10. Layer the hills on the background as indicated on the diagram. Use matching sewing thread and a narrow zigzag stitch to sew over the curved edges. Straight-stitch close to the straight edges.
11. Layer the stable pieces on the background. Zigzag-stitch along all edges of the two outer pieces and the bottom edge of the back piece. Sew along the dotted lines of the back piece as indicated.
12. Place the star on the background and sew along the dotted lines.
13. Place the completed calendar facedown on a flat surface. Center the stretched canvas facedown on the calendar back. Bring the top edge of the calendar to the back of the canvas, and staple it once to the frame center; repeat at the center bottom. Check the position on the front and adjust as needed to center the calendar on the canvas.
14. Staple the fabric edges to the frame at 1-inch intervals; trim excess fabric.
15. Enlarge the patterns for the Nativity figures. (Check manufacturer's instructions for the shrinkage of the plastic and enlarge patterns accordingly. Most shrinkable plastic shrinks 30 to 40 percent when baked.)
16. Lay one sheet of shrinkable plastic over each pattern. Use the brown paint marker to trace the pattern lines onto each sheet of plastic. Color the traced figures with the paint markers as you like. Cut out the figures using crafts scissors.
17. Cover the cookie sheet or tray with paper cut from a brown grocery bag. Place figures color-side down on the paper. Bake in a 325 degree F oven, following the manufacturer's instructions.
18. Cut a 1¿2-to-1-inch piece from the hook side of the hook-and-loop fastener for each figure (the loop side is not used for this project). When the figures are cool, adhere a piece of hook fastener to the back of each figure using double-stick tape.
19. On Christmas Day, attach the baby and the two Nativity figures to the stable at the bottom of the calendar. If desired, make wise men, sheep, and other plastic figures to fill out the Nativity scene.