This year's advent calendar kicks it up a notch, past the 2011 Spectacular Walnut Advent Calendar and the 2012 Greener-Than-Thou Advent Calendar. In fact, this year there are two calendars. Inspired by Italian fashion designer Daniela Gregis and her annual advent skirts produced in collaboration each year with a different artist, this year's advent calendars are two skirts which I've upcycled, designed, and hand-stitched in a fit of pre-holiday insanity. The clients are a four-year-old and a two-year-old.
Not a Creature Was Stirring
|The advent skirt "unopened" and stuffed with chocolate and toys|
|Pocket hidden under a ruffle; tulle stitched to top back of pocket|
A swath of tulle is stitched underneath the ruffle at the top of the pocket. In its starting state, each pocket contains a foil-wrapped chocolate coin, and every fourth pocket or so also contains a little gift. Each day as the pockets are opened the tulle is pulled out of the pocket, creating the final advent couture look.
|The skirt on the final day, with presents removed and tulle unfurled.|
Not Even a Mouse
The advent skirt styled for a two-year-old began with another thrift store find: a green satin wrap-around dance skirt. After cutting several inches off the bottom, wrapping the skirt to fit a 17-inch waist, and adding velcro tab fasteners, 25 swathes of tulle were added. Each swath of tulle is gathered at the top and stitched to the skirt, along with a ribbon that is stitched to the top of the tulle half-way down its length.
|Skirt in its starting state, with bundles of little gifts|
For this skirt, the foil-wrapped chocolates and little gifts were wrapped in scraps of light green satin and numbered from 1 to 25. Each bundle was then wrapped in one of the tulle swathes as shown below, and tied with a ribbon.
|Swath of tulle with ribbon secured to top|
|Numbered gift bundle placed on tulle|
|Tulle folded up and around bundle and tied with ribbon|
Once again, the skirt is a work of interactive couture. As each bundle is unwrapped and the ribbon untied, the tulle and ribbons are unfurled and become part of the final look as shown below.
|The skirt on the last day, with all gift bundles untied|
The Gifts - Lots of Mice
You may have noticed the Night Before Christmas theme going on in the skirt titles on the waistbands: "Not a creature was stirring," and "not even a mouse." All of the little surprise gifts in the skirts were hand-stitched from felt and all have a mouse theme. Little notes with vintage holiday mouse-themed pictures are included with the gifts in the four-year-old's skirt explaining what they are. The gifts in each skirt are identical (except for color) and fall on the same day, to avoid any fights between the models as they sprint or toddle down the runway.
Wear a Mouse in Your Hair: Mouse Barrettes
Wear a Mouse on Your Finger: Mouse Rings
|Mouse rings: finger slips into belly band underneath mouse|
Put a Mouse to Bed
The little mice in these beds are tiny puppets, worn on the tip of a finger or the tip of a pencil
|Mice in their matchbox beds|
|Mouse puppet out of bed|
Hang a Mouse on the Tree: Christmas Ornaments
|Mice Christmas Ornaments|
Be a Mouse: Mouse Masks
The recipients are encouraged to don their masks and practice curling up like mice and not stirring.
On the last day, December 25, a final note tells the recipients to put on their completed advent skirts (which have magically become tutus), don their mouse masks, and put on a mouse ballet.