Christmas Countdown Chain Tutorial

Tutorial time! Sorry if you’re not a crafter/sewer person. Absolutely no hard feelings if you want to skip this one.

I finished the Christmas Countdown Chain and, after a little trial and error, it was as easy as I thought it would be. Honestly, the cutting and pressing took longer than the actual sewing.

Materials:
24 coordinating fabric rectangles, 5″ x 10″
Matching thread
Velcro (I used 3/4″ squares, but see my note in the instructions)

Tools:
Rotary cutter, guide, and cutting board
Sewing machine

To get the fabric rectangles, there are a couple of things you can do. I bought six coordinating fabrics at a half-yard each. Since a half-yard of typical fabric is 18″ wide by 42-44″ long, each half-yard gave me twelve 5″-wide by 10″-long rectangles. Six half-yards will yield three full chains.

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Alternatively, a single fat quarter is 18″ wide by 21-22″ long, so it would yield six rectangles. If you didn’t mind less variety in the fabric, you could cut four fat quarters to make one chain. There are also “layer cakes” of fabric, which are stacks of forty-two coordinating 10″ by 10″ squares. These would only need to be cut in half, but can get pretty expensive pretty quickly.

I washed and ironed my fabric, then used my rotary cutter and lined cutting board to slice four 10″-tall strips from the length of the fabric. I squared up one end of each strip, then I sliced off three 5″-wide rectangles. The resulting stack looks like this:

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The cutting took quite a while, but I got three chains worth of materials for my effort. Once the cutting is done, the pressing starts. Fold up about 1/4″ from the each of the short ends and press.

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Then fold the whole piece in half, hot-dog way, with your creased ends tucked in.

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Open the fold back up and fold the long edge in to the center crease (so you’re creasing at a quarter of the width). Press.

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Do the same to the other side, so that you have all unfinished edges in the center.

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Fold along your center crease so you have a long, skinny strip. I re-pressed the whole thing at this point just to make sure it stayed.

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Pin your open edge together.

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Topstitch around the entire strip, taking care to backstitch at the start and stop.

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I used a margin somewhere between 1/16″ and 1/8″. I just found a guide on my machine that I liked and tried to be consistent. I also removed the pins as I went because on something this small, the pins were actually hindering the presser foot on my machine.

Once you’ve topstitched the entire strip, it’s time for the Velcro. I cut 3/4″ wide Velcro in to squares, but I think in the future I will either use 1″ strips of 3/4″-wide or full 1″ squares. The 3/4″ squares don’t seem to grip quite as well as I want them to.

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Stitch all the way around the edge of the Velcro square, taking care to backstitch at the start and stop. This is what the reverse will look like.

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Attach the other half of the Velcro to the other end of the strip on the reverse side.

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Now you have a loop!

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Repeat the process with each of the other twenty-three rectangles, loop them together in the desired pattern, and presto!

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I found it easiest to do the entire process for one fabric pattern at the time. In other words, press, sew, and add Velcro to four pieces at a time. That way I wasn’t wearing myself out on any one action but was consolidating actions to some extent.

I love how this turned out and will probably make several more before December 1st. If there’s something that’s not clear, or you have a question, feel free to leave a note in the comments. Also, if you make one, I’d love to see pictures!

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Countdown Chain Tutorial

  1. So. Cute. I’m thinking of making a cloth pocket advent calendar this year – last year I did paper bags and it was cute but I want something reusable. We are mostly secular so I want to do it Christmas-y and I’m okay with a sewing machine but not nearly as good as all that, so we’ll see. Or on Nov 30 I’ll be making paper bags real quick again.

  2. This makes me wish I were less lazy. Oh, and also that my sewing machine hadn’t been broken for five years. Seriously, I lugged that broken thing with me all the way across the country, and it’s … still broken. Come on, Susie.

  3. Grr…comment try number 2!

    So cute! Out of curiousity, how much were these selling for at your craft fair?
    Could you use snaps instead of velcro, do you think, or is the fabric too thick with the layers? (I’ve never actually USED snaps, but they involve squeezing some tool tight, right?)

    • I bought my original one for $15, which I thought was reasonable but I probably wouldn’t have paid much more. My best guess is that I spent about $5 on the materials for each chain. I think you could absolutely use snaps, although the Velcro is probably easier for little hands. You could feasibly buttonhole one end and add a button to the other as well, which would be an additional cute factor.

  4. Pingback: Christmas Cheer or Bust! | Always Order Both

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