First Christmas design.. Baby Owls Advent Calendar

It’s funny, but it somehow feels right to start thinking about Christmas designs this month.  I think it’s because all around us here in Devon there are signs that the year is turning, as the seasons change and summer merges into autumn.  I am surrounded by colour – there are apples on the old trees in my garden ….


The sedums in my front borders are alive with bees collecting the last of the summer pollen ….


And I counted more than a dozen tortoiseshell butterflies enjoying the valerian’s second flowering on the old stone wall ….

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The wheat has all been harvested in the fields towards Stokenham village, though you can still clearly see the footpath through the stubble..

Crossing the Field

The evenings are drawing in too, it’s dark by eight o’clock now … which means there is more time to snuggle down on the sofa and enjoy  browsing through the assortment of books, magazines and other miscellaneous reading matter that collected over the summer months when I wanted to be outside in the garden, on the beach, or taking Ben for an evening walk.  And amongst the eclectic mixture I discovered an old embroidery book that I acquired at one of the many fetes and jumble sales held around our local villages…

xmas owls 025

It’s very much of its time – the early 1970s – and is aimed at encouraging children to pick up needle & thread and get stitching.  (I’m all for that!)  I love vintage books like this – not only do they remind me of my own childhood, they also provide a starting point to inspire  new designs.  I particularly liked this idea …..

xmas owls 027

… the little owls perched on a tree.  And doesn’t the tree look a little bit like a Christmas tree perhaps?  And before Christmas comes Advent – Advent Calendar – owls – stockings …. and so an idea was born – the first of my Christmas designs for this year …

Baby Owls Advent Calendar

… my Baby Owls Advent Calendar.  You can see how the 1970s pattern was my starting point – I began with the Christmassy shape of the tree, but both it and my baby owls are appliqued by machine – the little owls have buttons for eyes, hand-stitched feet, and the panel is lightly quilted…

Baby Owls Advent Calendar (detail)

The stockings are also machine applique and pegged to the baker’s twine that’s secured across the branches – one stocking for each day in December leading up to Christmas.   The panel is about 18″ wide, though I haven’t measured it properly yet, as I haven’t started to write up the pattern.  These baby owls will be in the October Issue of the Bustle & Sew e-zine – published in a little over two weeks’ time and I’ll list the pattern in my shop then.  Meanwhile …

NM5 pic for blogs etc

I’m off to the Nostalgic Mix Fair in Totnes in October.  This  is where I sell many of my samples.  I do try to be ruthless, as otherwise I would have far too many cushions, quilts, pictures and softies, but somehow I think these baby owls will be staying with me this Christmas time – too cute to sell!!   Hope to see one or two blog readers there – if you can make it do be sure to come and say “Hello.”


Love the owls, and really glad you have started your Christmas patterns. It’s never too early to start crafting for Christmas! I really like the idea of the little pegs holding onto the stockings.


Autumn has certainly touched Devon and your lovely gardens with a rich depth of texture and color! Your photos are just beautiful, Helen! Thanks so much for sharing!
I love your Baby Owl Advent Calendar with each owl so sweet and unique, and I am once again anxiously awaiting the next e-zine…
X Linda


This is possibly the cutest pattern ever! The fair sounds right up my street, unfortunate that I don’t live locally, fairs like this are few and far between in East Anglian! Good luck with your sales, and hope you share some photos of the fair on your blog.x


The baby owls are so cute, just love them. You have inspired me so much, that I am even going to try hand embroidery again with my arthritic hands!

Thank you Helen.
Jan G.


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