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How to Make a Family Birthday Calendar Out Of Fabric

Updated on March 12, 2014
Millionaire Tips profile image

A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

How to Make a Family Birthday Calendar
How to Make a Family Birthday Calendar | Source

Remembering Birthdays and Anniversaries

Are you tired of forgetting your favorite niece's birthday? Tired of copying those birthdays from one calendar to another every year? Tired of turning the calendar page over just to discover that you missed another birthday?

We can fix that! This birthday calendar is perpetual, and always available in full view. You can easily glance at it and know exactly when the next birthday will be. There's no need to turn the page, and no need to copy it from year to year. If you put it someplace that you will see every day, you will always be ready to send a note or a gift to your loved ones on their special day.

Criteria and Ideas for a Birthday Calendar

I got the idea of a birthday calendar from Pinterest. The pin was a birthday calendar using wooden circles. Since I am a quilter, I decided to make one out of fabric. Before I started, I came up with some criteria for the project.

  • The calendar needs to be expandable. As new members join the family either through birth or marriage, I need to be able to add their information quickly and easily. For this reason, I decided to make individual pieces for each family member.
  • These pieces have to be connected in a way that can be disconnected and reconnected without much issue. I didn't want to have to dismantle the whole project just to add a piece. I decided to use ribbon to connect the pieces since I had ribbon. The original plan was to add buttons of the pieces which would hold the ribbon of the piece below it. I ran out of time, and wound up simply using safety pins to secure the ribbon on the back of the piece above it. You can also use long pieces of ribbon that can be tied to each other with a knot, or some other method such as dowel rods, hook and eyes, or other hardware.
  • The calendar needs to be versatile. Instead of using the same fabric for all of the original pieces, and having to find that same fabric to add new members, I decided to start with a variety of fabric. In this way, when a new piece is added, I simply need to find a coordinating fabric.
  • The size of each of the pieces have to be big enough to incorporate the name and date, but small enough to fit the amount of space available on the wall. I chose to keep all of the pieces the same size; my pieces are 2 1/2" by 4 1/2".
  • The title banner can also be made out of fabric, or you can use wooden plaque. It should be big enough to stand out and incorporate the names.
  • If you separate out the pieces by month like a true calendar, you will need pieces to indicate the month, or you can incorporate that on your banner. If you have just a few pieces like I have, you can also separate them some other way, like the four seasons, every two, three, or four months, or simply make a long chain. There are only ten people in my family, so for my project I made one long chain. I eventually hope to create another one that includes all 100 extended family members.
  • You need to decide how you are going to attach the pieces to each other. I used ribbon, which I had planned to attach to the back of the pieces with buttons.

Double Sided Fusible

Bosal Fusible Plus Stabilizer Heat, White
Bosal Fusible Plus Stabilizer Heat, White

The extra firm interfacing keeps your pieces flat and the fusible makes it easy to adhere the fabric to it.


Material Needed to Make Fabric Birthday Calendar

The first thing you will need is a list of birthdays and anniversaries you want to include in your calendar. My calendar currently includes my parents, my siblings and their spouses, myself, and all of our children. At some point, I plan to include my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

You will need the following supplies:

  • Fabric scraps: I recommend a variety of coordinating fabric. The amount will depend on the number of dates you have on your calendar, and how big each of your pieces are. I used a 5" charm square pack, and cut them in half, but I recommend bigger pieces that accommodate the size of your stabilizer. In this way, you can get all the names and dates on before cutting out the pieces.
  • Thread
  • Ribbon or whatever you are using to hold the pieces together.
  • Sewing Machine
  • Heavy weight double-sided fusible stabilizer such as Timtex, Peltex or Fast2Fuse. This is a firm yet pliable material. I used June Tailor Fabric Bowl Stabilizer.
  • Iron

Names and Dates

You can save time and thread by using just the first name, but since I am a genealogy buff, I recommend including both the first name and the last name.

If you are going to break up your calendar into months, you can save time by just using the day on each piece, but I recommend including the month, at least in an abbreviated form. In this way, if the pieces get separated, you know exactly where they go.

I also recommend using the full date, including the birth year. This will help you keep track of milestone birthdays.

You could also create separate pieces to help you remember anniversaries, holidays, and other important dates.

Tutorial: How to Make a Birthday Calendar Out of Fabric

The first step is to make the individual pieces that have your loved one's name and date. There are a variety of ways you can do this:

  • fabric marker
  • embroider by hand
  • machine stitches
  • printed on fabric using ink jet printer

Since I have a new machine, I decided to use the alphabet on my machine to add the information. I used batting scraps as a stabilizer and stitched the information on, but found that the pieces were not firm enough, so I added the double sided fusible. The instructions that follow omit the batting scraps and use only the fusible.


Taking some scrap fabric, I practiced making the longest name first. This helped me determine the size of the stitching, and the desired size of the pieces.


The order of the first step will depend on how you are preparing your pieces. I am going to separate out the steps for each process:

Printing On Fabric Using Ink Jet Printer

A note before you start: you must use an ink jet printer to print on fabric. Laser printers will not work. If you are printing the information on fabric, you will need to create a list of names and dates. I recommend using a label template on your word processing software. Print a sample on a piece of paper to make sure it is printing like you expected. Cut the fabric into a size your printer accepts. Press the fabric on a sheet of freezer paper which is also cut to the same size. Then put your fabric/freezer paper into the ink jet printer. Press to set the ink and remove the freezer paper.

Adding Names by Marker

You can use a permanent fabric marker to add the names by hand. You can then put the fabric on some sandpaper or something similar to keep the fabric from shifting. I like to type the names on the computer and try out different fonts and font sizes. Then to mark the fabric, I hold the fabric in front of the monitor and gently trace the names with pencil. Then simply trace over the names with a permanent marker using sandpaper to stabilize the fabric.

Adding Names by Hand Embroidery

For hand embroidery, you can mark your fabric as described in the marker step above. You can add a lightweight fabric stabilizer if you need, and embroider the names and dates using your favorite stitches.

For all of these methods listed above, once your information is on the pieces, fuse them to one side of the heavyweight fabric stabilizer following the instructions on the package. We'll call that the front.

The birthday  information is added to the pieces.
The birthday information is added to the pieces. | Source

Machine Embroidery

If you are going to add the names and dates by machine embroidery, the sequence of the steps is slightly different. Fuse a piece of fabric to the front of the Timtex or other heavyweight stabilizer first. At this point, leave the back fabric off, to keep a neat appearance on the back. Be sure to use a pressing sheet on the bottom to keep the stabilizer from sticking to the ironing board. I recommend getting a piece of fabric that is the size of the stabilizer to be more efficient. Mark where you will cut the pieces. I recommend marking them slightly bigger than the actual finished size of the pieces to give you some wiggle room in case of error. This will help make sure that you keep your information within the space.

Cut the fabric fused to the stabilizer into columns so it can fit into the machine. I programmed the information into the machine and sewed it on. The programming took the longest time for me. I added the name in one row and the date underneath it. To avoid reject pieces like mine, make sure there is enough thread in the bobbin before you start, and your piece is lined up straight.

Attach ribbon to each piece of birthday calendar.
Attach ribbon to each piece of birthday calendar. | Source

Finish the Pieces

Once the information is on the pieces, fuse the backing fabric to the fusible. Then cut out the pieces. Add the ribbon - I gently pulled off a small section of the backing from the fusible and inserted the both ends of ribbon into the backing. You can also put the ribbon directly on top of the back or the front, depending on the look you prefer.

I used a variety of machine stitches all around the edges to secure the sandwich. For a neater appearance, use a satin stitch around the edges. When I make these next time, I will save the fancy stitches to embellish inside the pieces instead of the edges.

A finished piece. Trim away stray threads and excess fabric around the edges if necessary.
A finished piece. Trim away stray threads and excess fabric around the edges if necessary. | Source

Assemble the Cloth Family Birthday Calendar

Once all of your pieces are made, it is simply a matter of putting the pieces together in the right order. I recommend laying them out on a flat surface and checking your work.

Then you can simply hang it up in a prominent place so that you never forget another birthday or anniversary again.

Do you have trouble remembering birthdays?

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Other Ideas For a Cloth Family Birthday Calendar

  • Since these loose pieces can get turned over, consider adding the same information to both sides.
  • Instead of leaving them loose, consider placing them on something more solid like a bulletin board.
  • One friend, Kate North, has made a holder for her fabric trading cards. This would work well on a project like this. Even though this limits the flexibility, if you made one that had twelve columns, one for each month, and enough spaces for all of your family members with some extras for additions to the family, you could create a structure to put your pieces. You could simply leave some blank spaces between the names so you wouldn't have to move pieces around too much to add a name. You could even put filler designer pieces in the blank spaces. She's even provided a tutorial.


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    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 

      4 years ago from Alberta

      This is such a great idea. I might make one of these for a family friend - she loves this sort of handmade stuff.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thanks Heather. You are right, it is more decorative than it is practical. It makes a great gift, and is great to display at family reunions and family gatherings.

      Thanks pstraubie. This calendar can be used for special dates besides birthdays, such as anniversaries and other special occasions.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thanks peachpurple. Writing down the dates in a book or calendar is a great idea. I like making one out of fabric because I like to quilt, and I also like to have a display. It keeps me from having to move the dates when a New Year means I have to use a new calendar.

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i used to write down their birthdates in my book. Of course i do missed some. This idea is great

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is such a clever way to remember those special dates. I am sharing with my sister and friends as I know many who would like to do this.

      Millionaire Tips this is being voted up++++ and shared and pinned

    • HeatherBlesh profile image

      Heather Ann Gomez 

      4 years ago from Monterey, CA

      What a neat idea! I count on my cell phone to give me birthday reminders. Although, I like working with my hands so I'm thinking I might need to get a few crafts going. I would use this more as a personalized gift idea rather than a self reminder. Thank you for sharing.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Roberta! If you make a calendar, I would be happy to add the photo to the hub!

    • RTalloni profile image


      5 years ago from the short journey

      Such a neat project idea! Showing your method and including the wood project video makes this entire hub a great idea starter. (Too bad everyone can't make their own and include their photo in your hub!)

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Ms. Dora, I hope you consider making a family birthday calendar to help you remember birthdays. They can be made out of a lot of different material - I happen to use fabric since that is my favorite medium.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      What great idea! I'm one of those who forget birthdays. Thank you for sharing the how-to of this beautiful craft to help people like me remember. Voted Up!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Crafty, it was fun to make a birthday calendar. I plan to make one for the entire extended family.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      That's such a great idea! It looks like a lot of fun to make too.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Jo. Using an ink jet printer and letting a computer help you with your calendar would make it faster, since you don't have to individually put all those names and birthdays on the fabric.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      5 years ago from Tennessee

      Loved the details of this article. Very well done. I especially was interested to learn about printing on fabric with the ink jet printer.

      Thanks for all the information.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Suzanne for the vote. My calendar has already helped make sure that I don't miss any birthdays. I keep it where I see it every day. The good thing is that a birthday calendar can be made out of so many different things.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      5 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      It's a good idea and yes, I am one of those people who have to keep copying calendars each year. I might make one with press studs so I can remove the current boyfriend at the time's birthday when he moves on. But my family is growing bigger and I need a better memento than paper! Voted interesting.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      What a great idea Shelley! I had thought of using photo transfer paper for the names and dates, but duh! didn't think of adding a photo of the person. I have already typed up the names and dates (actually I imported them from my family tree program) in a label format and was planning on printing it on fabric, but now I have to go back and put the pictures on! Thanks!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I like your idea and using quilting to implement it. I once made a photo quilt using the iron-on photo transfer paper. I could definitely see using iron-on transfers of the photo of the family member along with their birthday then quilting the fabric "frame" and back. As my family has grown it's become much harder to keep up, and this is prettier than a spreadsheet!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thank you viewfinders.

    • viewfinders profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Wonderful one ! Good creative idea.

      thanks for sharing...

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Stephanie for all your votes and shares. I really enjoyed making this birthday calendar, and am sure that the next one I make will be even better!

      Thanks Mommiegee, I do hope you make one or more - I think it would be a great Mother's Day gift for a grandmother or great-grandmother.

    • Mommiegee profile image


      5 years ago from Alabama

      What a neat idea! Definitely trying this over Spring Break! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 

      5 years ago from Hawai'i

      What a wonderful hub! Such a creative idea for remembering family birthdays. Voted up, interesting, useful, beautiful, awesome, pinned and tweeted. Aloha, Stephanie


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