Halloween Countdown Calendar – in FELT!

felt-countdown-calendarI’m beginning to realize that looking forward to great things is a big part of my coping strategy. I am obsessed with advent calendars, countdown calendars, paper chains, and all manner of beautiful craft projects that help me mark time until something fun happens. I’ve done it since I was a kid and I’m only picking up steam. But my very favorite countdowns are hard to find. I love the ones that aren’t just a door to open with candy inside, or just a number to display, I love the ones that create a decoration. The ones with little ornaments behind the doors, or in the pockets, something that gets fuller and fancier the closer you get to the fun. And since they’re so hard to find, I had to make one myself. I love those felt boards you use as a kid, and felt is so much fun to hand stitch, I knew there was only one way for me to go.


step-1For the backing and the bottom I used a piece of orange flannel that measured 22″ wide by 37″ long. I wanted my backing to match my front piece, so I just had it wrap around to the front. But you could use any fabric you want for the backing piece, and it doesn’t have to be flannel or felt. You could even make your bottom front piece different than your backing piece. I just did it this way because I loved this fabric and got a great deal on it. The blue top part does need to be felt because that’s where everything will be sticking. That’s the “felt board” part of this calendar. Mine measures 22″ wide and 13″ tall. Sew the top piece to the front bottom piece, right sides together, and give it a gentle press, then lay it out lining up with the back piece.


step-2You’ll need a whole bunch of numbers and the squares that will become pockets. I used an orange felt so that I could hand stitch the felt numbers on top and those beautiful fibers would just nestle up together and look gorgeous. You need 30 pockets cut to 2 1/2″ x 1 3/4″. To cut the numbers I used a font I liked as a template and cut out carefully. Stitch all those numbers on to the pockets until you have them all numbered.


step-3In this picture I still had a lot of hand stitching to do, but I wanted to show you how they would fit on the bottom piece once they were all laid out. Six across and five down.


step-4Once all my pockets were numbered I was ready to sew them in place. I really wanted to make my pockets neat and straight, so I used a ruler and a chalk wheel to draw a grid. I laid out my pockets so that they were 5/8″ apart in the vertical columns, and 3/4″ apart in the horizontal rows, and drew those chalk grid lines to those measurements. That way I could pin the pockets in place without fear of them shifting around on me. I just kept them lined up to the chalk line as I sewed. This method also let me sew the pockets on all at once. I could chain stitch down each row, pausing my stitching in the gaps between, but then continuing down to the next pocket until I had one side of the whole row sewn. It was so much easier to work a whole column, then a whole row, then a whole column, etc, at a time then trying to sew each precious pocket down all at once.  Remember to reinforce your pockets at the opening by doing a couple stitches, then a couple in reverse, and then finishing that side. These will be tugged on lots by little hands, so they need some help to not pop off.


step-5Now we need to decorate our felt board. As always I turned to a google image search and found myself a witches cauldron, but I thought it looked too much like a pot of gold. So I freehanded some bubbling potion and some pumpkins to fit the theme. The faces are just drawn on with sharpie. I cut out some more letters too and hand stitched all of this in place to take full advantage of how great felt is.


step-6I added a layer of batting – actually an extra piece of extra thick felt in this case – between the layers and added a binding to finish all those edges. If you need a little binding instruction, you can find that here.


step-7To hang it, just sew on a couple of rings. I had these in my beading pile, but you can find some in the notions aisle of your fabric store too.


step-8We’re not finished until we have all those little goodies to fill the pockets, and eventually our witches cauldron as the month wears on. I cut a bunch of candy shapes out of different colors of felt, jellybeans and gumdrops, squares with pinked edges for candy bars, round pieces with triangles on the side for wrapped candies, and cut two pieces for each candy. On one of the pieces I sewed on a teeny tiny piece of velcro – the hook side only – sewed three edges together, stuffed with a teeny tiny bit of stuffing, and sewed the last side closed.


step-930 pieces of candy takes a while to sew, but I think it’s worth it. I love how it looks with all those candies peeking out of the pockets…


step-10And I’ll love it even more as all those candies fill up the cauldron and show how close we are to the big day. Atti is so excited for Halloween this year, and this countdown calendar is a great way for him to celebrate that excitement every day. Even if he has a mom too strict to ever let him eat 30 pieces of candy.