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Holiday Home Decor

Advent Calendars

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I’ve always been charmed by advent calendars. When I saw this Winter Mitten Gift Card Holder from our friends at, I couldn’t resist transforming the in-the-hoop ornaments into 25 mittens to countdown the days until Christmas. The mitten is featured in the current issue of Designs and is a bargain-buy at $8.00 because you get five different designs in three sizes.

I opted to use cotton quilting fabric instead of traditional red felt. Either works just fine but felt is more economical. If you choose felt, use one layer for the front of the mitten and one layer for the back. Cotton fabric needs a bit more stability so fuse two layers of fabric with fusible web together for the front of the mitten. A single layer of fabric works fine for the back. You’ll need enough for 25 stockings or five hoopings in a 200×300 hoop.

In embroidery editing software, open Mitten4x4 Christmas Tree. Remove the Christmas tree. Copy and paste the design four times. Position the mittens in the hoop leaving ½” between each design. If the fabric doesn’t have a directional print (such as a stripe), rotate the fifth one to fit in the hoop. Select three of the mittens and mirror image them.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Color sort the design. Select the lettering function and type in number 1. Place the digit in the first mitten (thumb facing to the right) and size the letter to a height of 1.46”. Repeat for numbers 2 through 5.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Move the numbers to the first color of the design. Save it as Mitten1_5.

Remove the numbers and replace them with numbers 6 through 10. Save it as Mitten6_10. Repeat this process until you have 25 mittens with the numbers 1 through 25, five hoopings.

If you don’t have embroidery editing software, you can do this at the machine but you’ll have to ‘embroider responsibly’. Open the embroidery design in the machine’s editing feature. Merge as many mittens into the largest hoop as will fit. Add a number to each mitten, centering the number over the Christmas tree.

Attach the hoop to the machine. Stitch the numbers by advancing through the design. Stitch the placement guide for the trim. Add the trim. Skip the colors of the Christmas tree and advance to the mitten outline. Place a second piece of fabric under the hoop and stitch the final outline. When stitching the final outline, it’s wise to cover the fur on the side opposite the thumb. Use a skewer or pencil to hold a scrap of water soluble stabilizer over the fur as the needle advances to the fur.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Remove from the hoop.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Trim about ¼” from the outline.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Create your advent wreath by attaching to a decorative ribbon, clothesline, or wire. Adorn a mantel, staircase or tree with the mittens. The kids will have so much fun checking for a small treat each day.

Want to use multiple fabrics for a charming, quilty look? Don’t assign the numbers to the mittens in chronological order, change fabrics with every hooping and consider doing some of the numbers in single hoopings.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Christmas decorations and ornaments can evoke warm memories of childhood. What’s your favorite motif? Is it a star, reindeer, Santa, snowflakes or a menorah? Do you have a central theme running through your holiday decorations? Share your thoughts and you could be one of four lucky winners this week. What’s the prize? FOUR lucky winners will receive a $25.00 gift certificate from!
Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

I’d love to know what digitizing program you use – and maybe you don’t! Tell me that too. Just leave a comment and let me know if you do or don’t digitize and if you do, what program you use. You could win one of my favorite embroidery editing programs, Perfect Alignment Software.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The lucky winner is…  (drum roll please!)
“I use Embroidery Magic 2 and Fancyworks.  They take some effort to learn but the results are well worth the effort.” – Becky

Congratulations Becky!




  • PAM

    This idea is truly terrific, can’t wait to get started!!!!!Thanks for the idea

  • Marjorie Bixler

    This is such a cute idea. I need ideas to use my embroidery machine and this is just the ticket.

  • Sue Abram

    My favourite Christmas ornament is a small elf about 4″ tall with his knees tucked up and his arms around his knees. My mom this little guy to my husband and I for the top of our tree the first year we were married. Almost 35 years later, the top of the tree belongs to an angel but we continue to put this little guy up, together, every year. While each of the (grown) children have their own special ornaments that only they put on the tree, hubby and I have our little elf. Mom has been gone 22 years but I am sure she would be to know that we still have the elf and still carry on this tradition.

    • eileenroche

      How sweet, Sue!

    • Cathy Green

      I have an elf just like you described, my mom gave it to me my 1st Xmas away from home, said it was something she got when I was little. Now they’re calling him the ‘elf on the shelf’. I saw one very similar for sale at Target, looked online, got the story and shared it with my Grandchildren…and they’re really into it. Their Mom said she needs one for all year. Google ‘elf on the shelf’ for the story, really cute.

  • Virginia

    Great idea for the little mittens. We could also use them as tie ons for our packages.

  • Darlene Jacolik

    I have many birds and bird related ornaments throughout my home and especially on our Christmas tree. Have always used traditional colors of red and green.

  • Anne Marie Reilly

    This is a terrific idea and also useful as package decorations. My favorite ornaments are those that I have made, either with hand or machine embroidery.

  • Jane Anderson

    I have bird ornaments that I have collected on my travels. So the bird tree is my very favorite. I even found a ceramic tree that has little birds instead of the usual lights.

  • Tammy

    I am addicted to SWAK embroidery!!! I have been coveting that mitten! I LOVE Angels of any shape or size!!! They are my favorite Christmas motif — Santas come in a close 2nd!!!!!

  • Kathy

    I love snowflakes. They are so much fun when they are inside and not on my driveway or roads. I also like to keep them up through January so the house still looks festive longer.

  • LeAnne

    I love snowmen. Can’t resist them.

  • Margaret

    I use red cardinals throughout my decorating. My tree has about 35 birds. I use a table topper with cardinals as the quilting pattern. It was the first that I did on the embroidery machine and I love them. With 4 parrots in the house the cardinals are a natural.

  • Marilyn Lee

    I love your work!! So festive!!

  • Gail Beam

    I love snowmen, reindeer and santas with all the traditional red and green. Your mittens are so cute! Thanks for the directions to make your fun advent calender.

  • Kandy Lewis

    I love snowmen and packages. But I’m a December birthday so anything with Christmas is fun for me. I love it all as my Dad, also a December birthday, loved Christmas and decorating every room for it. He made it so much fun. He passed away 17 years ago and is missed very much.

  • Doree Shandera

    My favorite ornaments are nativity scene ones. We have collected several over the years. Next favs are all the ornaments our 4 kids have made over the years. We put them all on and have many fond memories.

  • Rose-Marie

    I luv this idea 😀 so cute 😀 I’m a sucker for snowflakes and anything sparkly 😀 we’ve also Started an angel collection in the past couple of years <3 new to embroidery so definately gonna try this Xmas ifea out for sure 😀

    • Rose-Marie

      Ooops 😀 meant to put *Xmas idea* =D

  • Rachel Davis

    I love your mittens! Maybe I’ll work on those for next year, already finished this years. I love nativities, snowflakes, angels & santa & the reindeer. I am trying to return my fam to the true reason for Christmas instead of the commercialized stuff. I am planning on advent calendars for each of my 3 grown sons & 2 daughters still at home. ~Rachel mom2fivekidz

  • Dee

    I have a collection of angels displayed each year around the Nativity set. My angels include country, gifts from friends and relatives, homemade by my kids and friends – just all kinds and sizes. It’s such fun each year to bring them out.

  • Gena Allen

    I work for the K-State Research & Extension office (Kansas Wildcats) and of course our theme is “Purple”. After I started working here, I stitched the Icicle’s from Embroidery Library in purple cotton and metallic thread and made mittens for each of us with our names and a snowflake embroidered on each one. I have added a few others since I’ve been here, and of course each one has to be something in purple!

  • Donna G.

    Most of our decorations are those that have been handed down through the family, or are handmade. It makes for eclectic decor, but great holiday traditions and memories!

  • KathyP.

    The mittens are adorable! I do advent calendars, but it’s the paper nativity ones that I hang on the wall. I don’t have a certain theme in my decorating, but do always put out my larger nativity figures and angels. This year we found a tiny, live Alberta spruce, and found tiny lights to put on it. I’m making bitty red bows, & had some metallic thread, I’m using for tinsel. It’s a little funny looking, but it makes me smile. 🙂

  • Barbara

    For our first Christmas, I made a set of Nutcracker characters, hand embroidered (this was 1979!) and embellished. We still have them, and I bring them out every year.

  • Rita Dougherty

    My christmas tree is all musical ornaments collected when traveling and also given to me by friends and family. My favorite time of year. Love Christmas and busy, busy making gifts. Little behind but I think I will sew/embroider Christmas the whole next year 2012. So many things I want to do, so little time. Rita

  • Margie F.

    I seem to gravitate towards snowmen and Santas. However, my Nativity sets are truly the most special of all.

  • Carol Seavitt

    The unglazed Nativity set my children received (one each year from our church when we lived in Michigan). These pieces are not glazed and I am planning on glazing and firing them in the kiln at our church here in Arizona. Won’t they be surprised (hope so).

  • Shirley R

    My favorite Christmas ornament/display is a little (incomplete) set of paper mache’ Nativity figurines that my two little girls, (ages 6 and 8 at the time) saved their allowances for and purchased, one by one, for $.25 each more than 40 years ago at the neighborhood corner drugstore. They bought the ones they thought were the most important: Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and a little lamb. They purchased them for my birthday in November, planning ahead for Christmas that year. I wouldn’t trade these littie figurines for the most expensive ornaments in all this world, and I display them prominently every year in my living room for all to see!

  • Lori

    Love your idea Eileen. I have a tendency to edit designs myself to create what I want. I happen to love Gingerbread. I’d love to center my Christmas theme around them but I haven’t collected enough. There doesn’t seem to be enough time for ‘me’ sewing/embroidery. In the next couple of years though, I do plan on doing more ‘me’ stitching. I have the designs & fabric – been collecting that for a bit 🙂

  • Deb

    My favorite Christmas ornaments are of the Nativity as it reminds me of the wonderful promise that was fulfilled through the birth of Jesus Christ, that He is the Saviour of those who believe in Him.

  • sharon nason


  • Judith Carlon

    My favorite ornaments are miniature musical instruments. They compliment the Christmas CDs I play during the season.

  • Jackie

    I love snowmen, I collect all sizes, shapes, colours. My decorating is centered around snowmen.

  • Lois Jessup

    I love angels. We have our little angel in heaven that passed away at the age of 11 months, 20 years ago in December.

  • Jackie Branscum

    I love snowflakes best because you can use them all winter, not just for Christmas. No theme for me except Christmas. I also love nativity scenes and stars. I love Christmas, my husband and I exchange gifts for 12 days before Christmas. This is a tradition we started 18 years ago. Some gifts are small, some big and really nice. We try to mix it up to lessen the financial strain and we get things we can use, etc.

  • Shirlene Renshaw

    I really love this project – when I saw it in the mag – I was thrilled to know that it was one from SWAK, too.

  • Vi A.

    I love the Mittens, can’t wait for my first Great grandchild to sew some for. Well maybe Hospice House will get some for their fund raising events. I think these mittens are ahead of my snowmen. Love them

  • Beth R

    I love snowflakes, especially free-standing lace ornaments. But then again, I love any ornament – the only theme that my decorations follow is ‘most anything (within reason) goes!’

  • Cathy Green

    great idea with the mittens…and there are so many shapes that could used in my ‘stash’. thanks!

  • Sheila Gaston

    I LOVE Bells at Christmas. I have a set of beaded bells that fit over the mini lights for the Christmas tree and a wonderful door hanger of three bells. I do love your idea of the mittens.

    • Firza

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  • Ann

    I use Generations for Digitizing. I also have 3D Suite
    Something I need to get back into doing.

  • Bonnie

    I have a poinsettia theme for Christmas. I have about 25 artificial poinsettias, that I put all over the house, some serving dishes and mugs for an annual Christmas Eve brunch for our friends. This year I hope to finish a new tree skirt with felted poinsettias on it and i also want to make 3D poinsettias using Texture Magic to put on the tree but I haven’t found a design I like for that yet.

  • Amy Bohner

    I like to use snowflakes. When January comes I can remove only some of my trees and add snowmen. It gives my home a festive feeling all winter. PS…I love SWAK embroidery!!!

  • June Young

    I seem to have collected a lot of snow people. I love how they are tall and slim, short and round, etc. How can you not love a cute snow man! I even have several snowman embroidery designs (wearing one right now!).

  • Wendy

    Those mittens are so adorable and they will be perfect for my niece and her 3 small children, I can’t wait to make them.

    I decorate the entire house, lots of deep red and gold with greenery and poinsettia’s and a different theme in each room, but I have the more Santa’s than anything else.

    I just love Christmas, it’s just the warmest, happiest time of the year! Merry Christmas to all!

  • Laurie

    I love symbols of the “real reason for the season,” but after I married, the Santa theme has again become a strong theme for Christmas. My husband’s grandfather was THE Santa of Pocatello, Idaho for many years. He made the ideal Santa too–he was jolly, round, and could talk to anyone. He listened to many children’s–and grandchildren’s–wishes for many years. My husband’s uncle eventually filled his shoes. No one stops “believing” in Santa in our family.

  • Cathy

    I enjoy seeing at Christmas antique Santa claus. I have embroidered many on table runners. Have many statues.

  • Shelly C

    I love everything Christmas!! I am going to have to move to a larger home to fit much more in it, or atleast my DH thinks so, lol. I still add decorations each year. My favorite is my Holiday Village with different homes, people, trees ect.

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  • Dottie

    My collection of snowmen has grown to the point that I have a “snowman” table that I display them all on.

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