DIY Advent Calendar and Gift bags

DIY Advent Calendar: Silhouette Portrait 3 Craft

Dream DIY Advent Calendar

This year we moved into a new home, and it is the first time I have felt like decorating every room for the Holidays. One of the projects I have wanted to make is an Advent calendar for my girls. An Advent calendar we could use year after year, and one that wouldn’t take up a lot of space when packed away. Once I got my Silhouette Portrait 3 I knew had the ability to bring my dream Advent calendar to fruition. Keep reading to learn how you can make your own DIY Advent Calendar, or gift bags, using your Silhouette Portrait 3!

DIY Advent Calendar or Gift bags


If you are an avid Silhouette or Cricut DIYer you may already have most of the supplies you will need for this project. If not then here are links to the products I used. (None of these links are affiliate links.) You will need a vinyl cutting machine like a Silhouette or Cricut, your choice of heat transfer vinyl (I used green, red, gold, and silver), a heat press with wax paper and mat, (I use the Cricut Easy Press Mini), 24 small cotton drawstring bags, wood clothespins, jute twine, your designs, and of course your weeding tools.


One of the great things about this DIY Advent calendar is you get to choose the designs and font you want. Our house has more of a farmhouse vibe so I tried to use designs and font I felt would tie into the Farmhouse Christmas theme. Here are links to a couple of my favorite designs, that I used, from the Silhouette design store. Christmas Adventure Script Font, Naughty/Nice, Santa in Christmas Sleigh, Christmas Reindeer Set, Farmhouse Christmas, and Two Gnomes.


Once you have all of your supplies and your designs there are 4 big steps to this DIY Advent calendar craft. The cotton drawstring bags I got are 3×4 inches, and all of the designs I used are bigger than that so the first step we will talk about is resizing the designs.

Resizing the Designs

I opened a couple of project page tabs and selected which designs I wanted to cut in a certain color, and I put those all on the same project page. Depending on the size of the design I resized the majority of them to between 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches tall. Example: The font, reindeer, and gnomes I did 3.5 inches tall. Naughty/Nice I did the boxes 3 inches tall, and the words 0.8 inches tall. Santa in Christmas Sleigh I did at 2.5 inches tall.

The Farmhouse Christmas design was the hardest one because it has the most layers. Here is how I sized the individual parts. The word Farmhouse I sized to 0.5 inches tall, the word Christmas I sized to 0.9 inches tall, The cow I sized to 2 inches tall, the wreath to 1.3 inches tall, the ribbon 1.2 inches tall, and the leaves 0.4 inches tall.


When doing heat transfer vinyl there are a couple of things to remember. The first is you need to mirror your design or it will not come out correctly on your bags. There are two ways you can do this on your Silhouette Portrait 3. Either manually by going up to the object tab and selecting mirror, or by letting your machine do it for you. When you tell your Portrait 3 that you are printing heat transfer vinyl, and you hit send your machine will remind you that you need to mirror your design. It will then ask if you want it to mirror it for you or if you have already done it. It’s a nice little feature on the Portrait 3.

The second thing you need to remember when cutting your designs is you need the correct blade number and force. Why? Because if you don’t your machine will not cut through your heat transfer vinyl. Technically, the Silhouette Portrait 3, it is supposed to automatically select the blade number and force. (Based on the material you tell it you are cutting.) But when I did this with my machine it didn’t work. I had to do a bunch of test cuts to find out what blade number and force it would take to cut the heat transfer vinyl I was using. (For reference I was using Cricut heat transfer vinyl.) In the end, I ended up using blade number 7 with a force of at least 10. But, when doing your designs experiment and make sure to run test cuts before sending it to your machine.


Once all of your designs are cut it is time to weed them. If you are using some of the designs I used then weeding may take a little while. (One of the Gnomes I spent the most time on weeding. Haha!) Put some Christmas music on and take your time. I like to cut out my designs from the larger sheet, weed them, and then lay the design next to the bag I will be transferring it to. This helps me to see the whole project picture.

Transferring the vinyl to the bags

So, I am not fancy. Haha! To do the heat transfer vinyl I used a really thick cutting board, wax paper, and my Cricut Easy Press Mini. You can use an iron if you do not have a press machine. You just need to make sure it heats up to the correct temperature. Which is hard to do with an iron, but not impossible. (Usually, the cotton setting works well.) So what I did was I laid a bag on my cutting board, heated up the bag for 5 seconds to get the wrinkles out, put my design on the bag, placed the wax paper on top, and then put the easy press mini on top of the wax paper on the design. I held the easy press mini there for 30 seconds.

Some of the designs I needed to do in sections so I would heat the design on the left side for 30 seconds and then move over to the right side for 30 seconds. If your design calls for layers of different colored vinyl then you will need to do 30 seconds of heat on each layer. After you are done heating your design move the wax paper and peel off the clear liner. Viola! If for some reason, while peeling up the clear liner, you see that your design has not adhered to the bag put the liner back down, cover it with the wax paper again, and put the heat back on your design for a little bit longer.

Tip: I found that the silver and gold Cricut heat transfer vinyl was a little bit more finicky. Sometimes you may find it needs slightly more time under the easy press mini.

Completing your DIY Advent Calendar

Once all of your bags are done all you have left to do is put it all together! String the jute twine up and use the clothespins to pin the bags up on the twine. You can fill the bags with candy, and maybe throw in a small toy or two.

Perfect DIY for gift bags as well!

While I used this DIY for an Advent calendar for my family you can also use this DIY and make gift bags. The cotton bags I got are the right size for gift cards, cash, and smaller items. Perfect for the holidays, weddings, and parties.

If you have questions let me know!

If this project is your first time doing heat transfer vinyl and you have questions feel free to ask me. Are you a seasoned heat transfer vinyl pro with tips? I would love to hear them!

Other DIY Silhouette Portrait 3 Crafts

Another great craft you can do with your Silhouette is make magnets! I have a DIY post on how to make your own Candy Corn magnets. The same principles apply if you decide to make magnets for other holidays. You can check out my post on how to make DIY magnets HERE.

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