The days have been flying by! Did your online shopping just go from Standard shipping to Express shipping and finally to the dreaded Next-Day shipping? An advent calendar will help you slow down the season and countdown the days to the most joyous day of the year.
I made this monkey advent calendar for my best friends and their son, who I am proud to say is my godson. I know how much they all love Christmas, so I thought this calendar would be a perfect present for them. Hopefully, pulling it out annually and counting down the days with it will be a new holiday tradition for them! If for whatever crazy reason I can’t be with them during the holidays, it brings me real happiness thinking that a little part of me can be there everyday leading up to Christmas. Unfortunately, making it took me longer than expected, so they can start their new tradition next year!
There are a lot of steps to making this craft, a lot of which may be taken out of order, depending on what you feel like working on that day. Some days I felt inspired to work on the small stitching on the 24 monkey faces, but some days I was feeling more creative and felt like decorating each of their individual costumes. Choose what works for you that day. Don’t let the repetition bring you down. This ended up being a lot of fun to make.
The first thing you need to do is decide on what kind of ornaments you’d like to use to countdown the days. Remember, you’re making 24, so choose something you think you’ll enjoy making. The ornaments can all be different or, like I did, all the same theme but with different embellishments. My godson has a monkey theme in his bedroom, so the ornaments in this calendar are perfect.
Here’s how to make the monkey faces:
1) Create a stencil using card stock or any thick paper. Fold the paper in half to make the shape symmetrical or free hand it to give it a unique, but consistent shape. You’ll need one stencil for the head shape and one stencil for the face shape.
2) Hand cut each head and face shape. Use the stencils as a cutting guide (just hold it over the felt and cut around it). Don’t try to stack the felt and cut more than one at the same time because you’ll end up having to go back and clean up the edges.
For each monkey, you’ll need 2 pieces for the head (same color) and 1 piece for the face (lighter color). I ended up doing monkey heads with a dark brown and light brown, but with all the same tan face.
So in the end, you will need a total of 48 felt head pieces and 24 felt face pieces.
3) Using black embroidery thread, stitch the nose and mouth on the monkey face. Don’t worry about how the back side of the face looks after you’ve stitched the nose and mouth, this side is going to be glued down later.
4) Glue down the eyes with a glue gun or with super glue. Glue the felt face onto 1 of the pieces of felt head. Do not use super glue to do this, as this type of glue will seep through the felt and will be visible when it dries. I recommend using small dabs from the glue gun or a fabric glue stick.
5) Stitch the 2 felt head pieces together. Leave a small opening at the end of your stitching so you can stuff the monkey. By now you’ve accumulated a lot of felt scraps from cutting all the heads and faces. Use those tiny scraps to stuff your monkeys. We keep all of our tiny scraps for stuffing. You can also use cotton balls or any other soft material you have handy.
Once stuffed, stitch your monkey head closed.
6) Turn your monkey over and sew a loop of thread toward the top of the back of your monkey. This will serve as a hanger for when you hang the monkeys up.
You’ve just completed your first monkey!
You can leave your monkeys just like this (they’re already pretty cute!) or you can decorate them more like I did. I kept up with the holiday theme, but the sky’s the limit, you can tailor yours to fit the personality of the person you’re giving the craft to.
Here’s how to make the calendar:
1) Find a piece of fabric you’d like to use for the backing. I found a quilted piece I liked at my local fabric store. A yard is a safe amount to get. You’ll also need a piece of green fabric for the Christmas tree and red pieces for the pockets. I used red felt so it matched the texture of the monkeys.
2) Cut your red fabric into strips so it can stretch across your yard-sized piece of backing. These will end up being the pockets for your monkeys. You want to make sure the height of the red strips allow it so the monkeys can fit into them once they’re sewn into pockets. I was able to do three rows of eight monkeys.
3) Fold the green fabric in half and sketch out half the tree using a piece of chalk. Doing it this was makes it so the tree is symmetrical. Keeping the green fabric in half, cut out your Christmas tree.
4) Stitch your tree to the backing.
5) Cut out a piece of brown fabric for the stump of the tree. Stitch this down as well.
6) Pin down your red strips of felt to the backing. Use black embroidery thread to sew these pieces down straight across horizontally. Do not sew down the tops of the strips, as these will be the openings of the pockets.
7) Sew the red pieces vertically to create the dividers between each pocket. I used one piece of thread from top to bottom. The back of the calendar won’t be pretty, but doing it this way made things much easier.
8) Sew down 24 buttons onto the tree. These will look like ornaments and serve as places to hang the monkeys.
You can also add any other details you’d like, like a colorful border or a beaded garland.
9) Create stencils for the numbers of the calendar. Cut out each number in felt, just like you did with the monkeys. Glue down the numbers onto the red pockets.
10) Using red rectangles of felt, I created four sleeves to slide wooden rods through. This helps the calendar to keep its shape when hung up. Fold the rectangles over, leaving just enough space for the rod to slip through. Do this for each corner of the calendar. The wooden rods were found at my local hardware store.
11) Tie a piece of red ribbon or twine to the top wooden rod. This will serve as the hanger for your calendar.
Your masterpiece is ready to hang up and be admired!
I hope my friends and godson love their Monkey Advent Calendar! It may not be perfect, but it was handmade with care and a lot of love went into it. And that’s what homemade gifts really are about!
Happy Holidays from The How To Duo!