I wanted to create something special this year to add to our Christmas decorations this year. I originally planned to make an art banner of pockets for counting down the days of Christmas. As I started to work, I realized that 24 pockets would be a crazy long banner, longer than I would have space to hang it. I haven’t given up on the idea completely, but I have put it off until next Christmas. Instead I decided to create a banner of pockets that could replace our Christmas stockings.
I created a pocket for me and my husband, our three kids, the two oldest’s significant others, and Cracker Jack. The pockets aren’t very large so I will fill them with things like gift cards in envelopes and small things in containers that can be removed easily. I tied all the pockets together so they can’t be taken down individually and dumped out like a traditional stocking would be.
Cut two fabric pieces and two interfacing pieces for each pocket using my Art Banner pattern. Fuse the interfacing to the back of each fabric piece. (I used Sweetwater Countdown to Christmas which is an older fabric collection and something I had in my stash from other Christmas sewing projects. )
Use an ink blending tool to brush the edges of each fabric piece with Gathered Twigs Distress Ink.
Apply glue stick to the back of each fabric piece on the interfacing.
Lay each fabric piece onto cotton batting. Use the glue from the glue stick to hold the pieces to the batting temporarily until sewing.
Trim around the fabric banners with pinking shears.
Sew along the top edge only of each banner piece.
Fuse a product like Heat n Bond to pieces of wool felt cut to fit die designs.
Die cut the felt pieces with the desired die designs. Adhere the die cuts to the front of the pockets with an iron. Remember that you will only decorate half of the fabric pieces since you need a decorated front and a plain back for each pocket.
Steel rule dies (the ones with thick cases called Bigz) will cut felt wonderfully. The thinner dies like Thinlits and Framelits and Sizzlits will cut felt but the results vary depending on your felt.
Add stitching detail as desired to embellish the die cuts.
If your Heat n Bond has a backing paper, be sure to save those for other projects!
You can use pre-colored wool felt (like my brown and green) or you can color your own. I often buy larger amounts of white and off white so that I can die them to colors I would never find pre-made. You can dye wool felt for non-washable project with both Distress Stains/Sprays and Dylusions Spray Inks. To dye the felt, simply mist the wool felt with spray ink, allow to sit for a minute or so, blot the excess with a dry cloth, and dry with a heat tool.
Wool felt is made from natural fibers and can be dyed because the fibers can absorb the dye. Acrylic and craft felts can not be dyed because they can not absorb the color. Wool felt is most often found in fabric stores and usually sold on a bolt by the yard.
After the wool felt is dry, add Heat n Bond to the back and die cut. To add shading, you can brush the edges with an ink blending tool and Distress Ink.
Add multiple layers of die cuts as desired to build more dimension and texture. Use a quick drying clear glue (I used Beacon 3 n 1) to adhere the layers together. Use the glue sparingly if you plan to sew through it for beads. The thicker the glue, the harder it will be to run a needle through.
Sew on beads or embellishments to the die cuts.
Stitch front and back pocket together batting sides together. Sew only around the sides and bottom edges. Leave the top open.
Add grommet to the top left and right corners. (See the Basics 101 page for grommet setting instructions.)
To personalize each pocket, I used my metal stamping tools to stamp each family member’s name on a metal tag.
To learn how to metal stamp, view this video on the Vintaj blog: Step-by-step video Letter Stamping.
After stamping the letters, apply Vintaj Onyx Patina to the letters with a paint brush. Wipe away the Patina from the raised surface with a paper towel within seconds of applying it leaving the paint in the letters. Patinas dry very quickly. Any Patina that doesn’t wipe away can be buffed off later.
Buff over the tag with a Vintaj Reliefing Block. The block will remove any remaining Patina on the tag. It will also shine the metal.
To keep the shine, seal the tag with Vintaj Glaze. Unsealed the brass tag will return to the dark finish it had in the package.
Place mini jingle bells in a small zippered bag. Drip Mushroom Alcohol Ink into the bag. The alcohol ink will color the bells and add an aged look. Dump the bells out onto the craft sheet to dry.
Use an ink applicator tool with felt to apply Mushroom Alcohol Ink to Swivel Clasps. Color one Swivel Clasp for each pocket.
Use an ink blending tool to apply Mushroom Alcohol Ink to a Tidings Token. Attach the Tidings Token to the name tag with a jump ring.
Add bells to a jump ring. Add any additional embellishments to a jump ring. I added vintage jewelry beads that were gifted to me from a friend. I love that I had these so that I could add a vintage element to the pockets.
Attach the elements to the jump ring at the end of the chain on the Swivel Clasp.
To create an advent calendar banner, attach a Countdown Coin to each Swivel Clasp.
Clip the swivel clasp onto the grommet of the pocket.
Use ribbon to tie the pockets together to create a hanging banner. Cut a 6″ piece of wide ribbon. Slip the ribbon through the grommets of two pockets. (I used 1 1/2″ Wired Luxe Ribbon by Midori in Tree Frog.)
Tie the ribbon in a simple knot.
At the two ends of the banner, cut an 8″ piece of ribbon. Slip it through the single grommet.
Cut a second piece of ribbon to 20″. Loop the ribbon back and forth so that one end of the ribbon is on the left and the other end is on the right. You should have the same number of loops on each end.
Pinch the middle of the ribbon bundle and place it on top of the grommet.
Tie the tails from the short ribbon around the bundle.
Fluff the bow.
For this pocket, I used the Stacked Snowflakes die. I cut the snowflakes from off-white wool felt.
After I adhered it to the pocket front I added machine stitching through the center of each arm of the snowflake.
I layered one of the smaller snowflakes onto one of the larger snowflakes. I added beads to each snowflake. I also lightly brushed each snowflake with Gathered Twigs Distress Ink to add a bit of age.
On this pocket, I used pieces die cut with the Assembly Snowman die. The greenery bits are the tips of branches from the Christmas Cardinal die.
I die cut the arms and hat from brown and black wool felt. The scarf and nose were cut from white and dyed with Dylusions Spray Ink. I added beads to the hat to look like berries. I brushed all the pieces with Gathered Twigs Distress Ink.
I added a line of small and petite seed beads to simulate the ground.
I love how the charms on the Swivel Clasp look. They are so vintage and aged looking. Best of all, the bells jingle when the chain moves.
I used the large Layered Snowflake die on this banner.
I embossed it with the matching folder before ironing it down to see if the embossing would stay. It didn’t, but that is okay because the die cut shape alone on this one is amazing!
On this banner, I added beads outside of the die cut as well, adding them in a line directly out from the points on the arms of the snowflake.
For this banner I used the Tattered Poinsettia die along with leaves from the Holly Leaves and Branch die.
I used green wool felt for the leaves and white for the flower, which I dyed with Dylusions Postbox Red Spray Ink.
I added a cluster of yellow and crystal beads to the center of the flower.
The leaves all got a clustering white, pearl, and crystal small and petite seed beads in the center veins of the leaves.
This pocket also uses the Stacked Snowflakes die. I placed the snowflakes in a different arrangement to make it different from the other pocket that uses the same die.
I love the touch that this vintage pearl bead adds to the center of this layered snowflake.
I love the simplicity of a single small crystal bead at the center and points of this small snowflake.
This pocket uses the Ice Skate die and branch tips from the Christmas Cardinal die.
This die has a slit so that you can feed fiber through it to lace up the book. I chose a shimmery cream embroidery floss. I added a small petite seed bead at each lacing point to make it look like lacing eyelets. I added machine stitching along the embossed boot detail at the angle and tongue area.
I die cut the heel areas from brown wool felt. I used a Gathered Twigs Distress Marker to add lines to the heel to look like the stacked wood heels on my daughter’s old skates. I used Brushed Pewter Distress Paint to color the blades silver.
This pocket is one of my favorites. My oldest daughter Anna used to figure skate so this pocket using the Ice Skates die is of course for her.
I took the laces up to the top of the pocket where I sewed them in place with bits of greenery and more beads.
This pocket uses the Layered Snowflake die.
I added some beautiful blue beads to the center of this snowflake. I picked these beads up on a shopping trip in LA with some special friends. I always think of them when I use the beads on projects so I thought it would be nice to use them on project like this one that celebrates a season of friends and family.
The last pocket features the Christmas Cardinal die. I freehand cut a wing to add more dimension.
On this banner, I dyed the white wool felt for the cardinal with Postbox Red Dylusions. I really love this shade of red and the way the wool felt takes the color. With the added shading from the Gathered Twigs Distress Ink I think the bird is so pretty! I added clusters of beads to look like snow on the branches.
Emma declared that this pocket would be daddy’s since he is a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. I think she made a good call.
I really love this banner. I think that it will look so pretty with my Christmas decorations (ugh, still need to get them out) and that it will be fun filling the pockets with fun things for my family. I hope it inspires you to create something special for the holidays too!