There’s simply no denying it anymore — we have officially entered the holiday season.  You know what that means: days filled with Muppet Christmas carols, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, and HOLIDAY SEWING!  Oh wait, is that just me?  Well, even if you’re not into the Muppets or whipped cream-topped hot beverages, I hope that many of you can agree with that last part.  Holiday projects are something many sewists look forward to all year, so to kick off the 2012 season, we’re excited to bring you a fun, free project courtesy of Fat Quarterly contributor Aubrey Schwartz.

Aubrey is an avid sewist, pattern designer, and mommy who blogs at, and her blog is a veritable treasure trove of information and project ideas. We also recommend that you check out Aubrey’s shop, where you can find some wonderfully original and creative sewing patterns (our favorites include the Presta Pouch, Rosie’s Circle Twirl Skirts, and the Teardrops Heart Quilt).

We hope you enjoy Aubrey’s Grinch mini quilt and advent calendar project!

When I was a little girl we had an advent calender with a plush mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket each day until you got to Christmas.  It was one of my absolute FAVORITE Christmas decorations!  At some point my mom disposed of it and I have missed it for nearly 20 years.

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When I saw Robert Kaufman’s, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, fabric line the wheels in my head started to turn and I just knew that this year we were going to have a Grinch advent calender!  One that would bring back all those special memories of Christmas when I was a kid.

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Now that it is all finished, I cannot wait to watch my little guy enjoy it!  I am also super excited to share it with you.  Here is a step by step tutorial so you can make your very own!

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  • 6 Grinch fabric fat quarters of your choice: 1 for the bottom front , 2 for the back, 1 for the hanging sleeve & binding, 1 for the pockets, and 1 for extra scraps & appliqué.
  • 2 rectangles from the Grinch Book Panel or a 12″ x 19″ Fussy cut of your favorite Grinch print, for the front top.
  • Small scrap of the Holiday Grinch fabric print , 4″ x 5″ minimum, with at least one Grinch in the center.
  • 2, 4″ x 5″ pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing.
  • 4 strips of 2 1/4″ x 18 1/2″ fusible fleece.
  • 1 strip of 2 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ fusible fleece.
  • 21″ – 24″ wooden dowel with holes one each end (or other hanging device).
  • 3/4 yard of ribbon for hanging


1. Fuse the interfacing to the back of the Holiday Grinch Fabric print and an equal sized piece of scrap fabric.

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2. Place pieces with right sides together keeping the main Grinch centered.

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3. Sew around the center Grinch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1/2″ gap on one edge for turning.

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4. Trim around the Grinch leaving at least 1/4″ between the stitching and the cut line. Clip round edges and tight corners.

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5. Turn Grinch right side out.

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6. Stuff through the turning gap, making your Grinch three dimensional.  Slip stitch opening closed.

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7. Set aside the Grinch until you are done.

Caution** This tiny stuff Grinch is sooo cute that you must watch out for little hands!  They like to steal stuffed Grinches, so you may want to make a few extra.

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8. If you are using a fussy cut piece for the top then jump ahead to step 10. Otherwise, cut out two of your favorite pictures from the book panel, they should measure around 11 1/4″ long.  Sew a strip of 2″ x 11 1/4″ scrap of fabric in between the two panel pictures.

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9. Measure the width of your set.  It needs to be 19″ long.  If it is less than 19″ then add scrap pieces to each end to make it measure 19″.

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10. Cut down the bottom front fat quarter to measure 12″ x 19″.  Sew it to the bottom of the top panel you just created along the 19″ edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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11. Sew the two fat quarters for the back together, then quilt the whole piece in the design of your choice.  Baste around all four edges.  Trim off the excess batting and backing. Set quilted panel aside.

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12. Take the fat quarter that is for the pockets and cut it into 4 strips that measure 5″ x 19″ each.

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13. Fold one of the pocket strips in half lengthwise, right sides together and press.

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14. Center one of the 2 1/4″ x 18 1/2″ strips of fusible fleece to one side of the pocket strip between the shorter edges, while lining up the longer edge of the fleece with the folded edge.  Fuse in place.

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15. Sew the long edge closed with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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16. Turn strip right side out and press.

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17. Edge stitch along the folded edge of the strip.

18. To draw the date pockets, measure 1/4″ in from the shorter edge.  Using a fabric safe marking tool, draw a line perpendicular to the lengthwise edge.  Measure 3″ from the line just drawn and draw a line parallel to it.  Keep drawing parallel lines 3″ from the previous line until you get to the end of the strip.  The last line will be 1/4″ from the end of the strip.

19. Repeat steps 13 – 18 for each pocket strip.

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20. Now for the dates.  Each pocket is one date.  Dates should count up from bottom right to the bottom left:
Top Row:  24  /  23 /  22  /  21  /  20  /  19
Next Row:  18  /  17  /  16  /  15  /  14  /  13
Next Row:  12  /  11  /  10  /  9  /  8  /  7
Bottom Row:  6  /  5  /  4  /  3  /  2  /  1

If you want to appliqué or screen print your dates, do that now.  If you want to embroider your dates, then mark the numbers now and embroider them after step 21.

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21. Place the bottom of the bottom pocket strip 1″ up from the bottom of the quilted panel.  Lay the bottom of each following pocket strip 1/2″ up from the top of the previous pocket strip.  Sew ONLY the sides and bottoms of each pocket to the panel using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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If you have chosen to embroider your dates, do that now.

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22. Now sew the pockets.  Starting at the bottom of each pocket strip, sew to the top of each pocket strip along the lines you drew in step 18.

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23. Take some fat quarter scraps and cut out a 5″ square for the day 25 pocket.

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24. Fold in half, right sides together.  Lay the 2 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ piece of fusible fleece along the fold line and in between the shorter sides of the pocket piece and fuse.

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25. Sew along all 3 open edges, leaving a 1″ turning gap along the bottom.  Trim the corners to remove bulk.

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26. Turn pocket right side out through the turning gap.  Edge stitch along the folded edge.

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27. Create a small pleat by folding the pocket over itself about 1″ in from each edge.

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28. Edge stitch the pleat in place along the bottom seam.  If you are going to appliqué or screen print your numbers do it now.

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29. Find a place on the top panel to put the pocket.  Make it kind of special since it is the, “YAY! It’s Christmas Day!” pocket.  Sew the pocket to the panel along the sides and bottom of the pocket with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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If you have chosen to embroider your numbers, do it now.

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30. Now you can bind your mini quilt advent calendar!

If you need help with binding, there is a seven part series on my blog, click here and scroll down to Quilt Binding.

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31. Create and attach a hanging sleeve to the top back of the calendar!

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And tada! You are all set!  I wish the camera could capture how sweet this calendar is, I just love it!

I hope you make some of your own and have a lot of fun!  Come share some pictures with me if you do, I would love to see them!

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