Circles Advent Calendar Tutorial: Making the Circle Pockets

  • By: joleenllorence
  • Date: November 28, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

This is the fourth post in a series to make this circles advent calendar – in this post I’ll describe how to make the circles that form the pockets.

Other posts in this series:

  • Materials, layout and design
  • Making the background
  • Sewing the star
  • Sewing the circle pockets [This post]
  • Putting it all together

You can download the circles advent calendar templates PDF here.

Some Notes on the Construction

You’ll get lots of practice sewing in circles at this stage!

I tried a few different methods to create the circle pockets and ran into problems trying to get smooth curves and turning thick pieces of fabric, so this is the approach that worked best.

Each pocket consists of a front decorative fabric, a backing fabric, a piece of felt inside, and a second backing circle to finish it off.

The decorative front fabric is sewn to a plain backing right sides together. We then cut away the centre of the backing and turn the piece right sides out so there are no raw edges – this means that the whole of the circumference follows the stitching rather than having to turn under any tricky curved edges.

We then insert a circle of felt through the hole in the backing – this gives the circle some body, but as the felt isn’t sewn into the the seams it doesn’t add extra bulk around the edge.

The smallest decorative circles can just be sewn straight onto the backing at this stage.

Finally iron on a circle of plain fabric backed with fusible web to cover the hole in the back – I’m relying here on the fusible web to prevent the backing circles from fraying.


You’ll need the templates for the four different sized circles – download the circles advent calendar templates PDF here.

  1.  Iron fusible web onto the XXX piece of backing fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.I’ll call these the fusible web pieces.
  2.  Place the decorative fabrics right sides together with similarly sized pieces of backing fabric. I’ll call these the decorative layered pieces.
Cutting the circles

If you’re following my layout you’ll need circles in the following sizes:

Fabriclarge (10cm)medium (7.5cm)small (6cm)tiny (4cm)
fabric A layer:1122
fabric B layer:1122
fabric C layer:1312
fabric D layer:0142
fabric E layer:0142
fusible web backed:37130

If you’ve designed your own layout, work out how many circles of each size in each colour you need. For each circle pocket you need:

  • 1 circle from the decorative layered piece
  • 1 felt circle
  • 1 fusible web backed plain circle

For each tiny decorative circle, you’ll need the same but without the fusible web circle.

  1.  Draw the circles onto the backing fabric side of the decorative layered pieces, leaving space around each circle for a 6mm (1/4″) seam allowance.
    You can fussy cut these circles if you want – for the red fabric I made sure the design was centred on each circle. If you do this, you may need to allow more fabric (although my initial estimates are generous).
  2.  Cut the felt circles slightly smaller (by a couple of mm (1/16″)) than the template.The easiest way to do this is to draw round the templates in pen and cut just inside the marked line.
  3.  Cut the fusible web backing circles, again, slightly smaller than the templates.
 fusible web backing circles


4. Sew round each circle on the line on the decorative layer pieces, leaving no gaps. For the smallest circles shorten the stitch length slightly to help get smooth curves.

5. Cut out each circle with a narrow 6mm (1/4″) seam allowance (this doesn’t need to be exact) and clip the curves. The easiest way to do this, especially with so many circles, is to use pinking shears.

Cut out each circle for Advent tree

6. Take each circle and cut out the centre of the backing fabric. I left around 1cm (1/2″) from the stitching.

Take each circle and cut out the centre

7.  Turn the circle right sides out through the hole, and press.

Turn the circle right sides of Advent tree

8. Insert a felt circle of the correct size into each turned circle. Cutting the shapes slightly smaller than the templates should mean they fit neatly inside, but trim the felt slightly if necessary. They want to be snug.

felt circle of the correct size

9. For the pockets only, remove the backing paper from the fusible web circles and iron onto the back over the hole.

fusible web circles - Advent tree tutorial

10. On the pockets only, topstitch round the short curve of the circle between the marks on the template. This will the top edge of the pocket.

opstitch round the short curve of the circle

Adding the Numbers

Adding the Numbers in Advent tree

There are lots of ways of you can add numbers to your advent calendar. For my version, I wanted small discreet numbers that wouldn’t take too long – so no tricky cutting out or embroidery – or require sourcing any special materials. So I went for printing the numbers with some stamps and fabric paint.

My numbers are approximately 1-1.5cm high, and I printed them centred at the bottom of each pocket (on the opposite edge from the topstitching).

Stamping onto fabric is slightly trickier than just stamping straight onto paper as the layers of fabric are soft, so when you stamp down the fabric tends to shape around the stamp. This means that unless you have very deep stamps, most of the stamp – including the background will come into contact with the fabric.

Dipping the stamp into paint gets paint over the background, so instead I used a small paintbrush to paint just the raised number part of the stamp.

When pressing onto the fabric don’t push down too hard as it will blur the edges. If the numbers are a little faint, paint over then carefully with the paintbrush.

pressing onto the fabric

There’s a lot of sewing and cutting circles in this section – excellent practice!

Pay most attention to getting a smooth circle in step X as this will dictate the final shape of the piece – minor inaccuracies in the felt and the backing circles won’t notice so much. The smaller circles are trickiest, so slow down and shorten the stitch length if necessary.

Next: Putting it all together.

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