Circles Advent Calendar Tutorial: Making the background

Circles Advent Calendar - making the background tree.
This is the second post in a series to make this circles advent calendar – in this post I’ll describe how to make the background.

Other posts in this series:


Make a pattern piece from a large sheet of paper or newspaper. You will need a triangle 70cm (28″) tall by 55cm (22″) wide:

  1. Cut a rectangle 70cm (28″) tall by 55cm (22″) wide.
  2. Fold it vertically in half to mark the midpoint on the top edge.
  3. Join the top midpoint to each of the bottom corners and cut.
    Cut a rectangle 70cm x55cm, draw a line down the centre and join the points to make a triangle.

Use this pattern piece to cut the triangle from the background fabric (using a rotary cutter gives good clean edges here).


  1. Place the backing fabric face down, with the wadding on top and the background triangle on top of that, to form a wadding sandwich.
    Layer the backing fabric, wadding and background fabric, and cut to the triangle.

  2. Pin the layers together with safety pins and cut the backing and wadding to the same size as the triangle.
  3. Cut the top 2.5cm (1″) off the point of the triangle at the top. (This makes it easier to add the binding as you don’t have to deal with a sharp point and its hidden behind the star pocket. )
  4. Take the two squares for the dowel pockets and press in half diagonally.
  5. Place them over the bottom corners on the back as shown, with the fold on the inside, and trim to match the raw edges. Pin these in place and make sure the edges are caught in the binding in the next step – they will form two pockets at the back to hold a length of dowel that will keep the bottom edge of the calendar rigid.

    Fold the dowel pockets in half diagonally and place in the bottom corners.

  6. Take the binding strip (sew shorter strips together if necessary to make one long 2.5m (100″) strip) and press the whole strip in half lengthwise.

    Press the binding strip in half lengthways.

  7. Starting at the top of the triangle, pin the binding strip to the front of the background triangle round all three sides, matching raw edges.
  8. Sew round all three sides at around 1cm (1/2″) from the raw edge:
    1. Make sure you catch the dowel pockets in the stitching.
    2. At the corners, stop stitching about 1cm (1/2″) from the corner and cut the thread. Fold the binding t ocreate a fold at the corner, and so the raw edge lies neatly along the next edge of the triangle – you can sew these flat and neaten them up afterwards if you need to.
    3. At the top, cut the binding with approx 2cm (1″) overlap (keep the remainder of the strip for the hanging loop). Fold the raw edge over and finish stitching. This bit will be hidden when the advent calendar is finished, so don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect.

    Align the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the triangle, and stitch 1cm (1/2") from the edge.

  9. Now fold the binding strip over the raw edges to the other side and sew in place. I did this by hand, partly because it looks neater, but also because I was running dangerously low on dark green thread and I knew I’d need it for the topstitching!

    Fold the binding to the back and hand sew in place.

    This process is the standard way to bind a quilt – if you’ve never done this before, here’s a detailed step by step video showing the steps. It includes piecing together strips together to make a longer binding strip; the binding itself is from about the 5:10 mark. The tutorial shows square corners, but the technique works fine for the bottom triangle points here.

    The finished bound background triangle.

  10. Take the left-over bit of binding strip, fold the long edges in to the middle and then press the whole strip in half. Topstitch down the sides.
  11. Attach the hanging strip to the FRONT of the calendar on the top edge – this will be hidden from the front by the star.

    Sew the hanging strip onto the front of the background.

  12. Next: sewing the star.

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