Entries for the ‘making’ Category

Vintage Pattern Review

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016


About two weeks ago I moved my sewing room into my bedroom so that my girls could each have their own room.  Of course there isn’t near enough room in the master bedroom for all my sewing stuff,  there are still boxes and bags of fabric and pillow forms all over my room. Monday I decided I couldn’t wait for everything to be perfect to start sewing again and I started a blouse.


The pattern is McCalls 5120 from 1959.  It was super simple and straight forward to sew.  I originally sewed the tucks at the waist line but didn’t like the look (it gave a nice nipped in waist look, but it would have been uncomfortable on my daughter), so I unpicked them. I also made the neck a little wider so my daughter didn’t feel like she was choking with the top bottom done. I debated about doing the buttons vertically, which is typical for dress shirts, but decided against it as there wasn’t the traditional placket. Altogether cutting and sewing was probably 3-4 hours.

The fabric is an in house designed AGF print, Chic Flora, that I picked up the last time I was in Houston visiting my mother. After I finished the blouse I realized my daughter had nothing to wear with the shirt!  Which was really not a bother, just an excuse to keep sewing.


I whipped up this super simple Simplicity 4763, wrap skirt in a navy corduroy that my friend Janet gifted me. The pattern I have is a waist of 26″ and 36″ hip.  Even though it was cut for an adult figure, I knew as a wrap it would be very forgiving. I omitted the pockets and the contrasting top stitching and cut 5″ off the length. After cutting out the three pieces I probably spent 2 hours total sewing this up, it was very simple.


My daughter was a little worried that the wrap would show her underwear, but there is enough overlap that everything is covered, even in a twirl.


I love this skirt so much I want to make one for myself!

Advance 8279

Monday, July 6th, 2015


I picked up 3 yards of cotton lawn for a steal at SAS last week and it was just begging to be sewn!  I’ve sewn Advance 8279 once before and it was pretty straight forward, so I gave it another go.



Last time I made the dress I omitted the button placard and put in a zipper, this time I opted for buttons.  The cotton lawn was really light and I was worried about it not supporting the dress, so I lined it.  I have no idea how to add lining with a collar and a button placard…I did my best and it worked out alright.


I’ve found that each time I’ve made the dress it tended to be very boxy on the sides, despite the darts.  If you want a more fitted bodice I would sew deeper darts or cut the sides slimmer.  The collar always wants to flip up, I think its because of the weight of the piping. I even top stitched the dress to the collar seam allowance and it still wants to flip.


I absolutely love the exterior pockets with piping- I think they are SO CUTE!  I had my daughter wear the dress with a petticoat under it for the pictures, but it looks just fine without it. She loves the dress because it twirls really well and is nice and light weight- perfect for an Arizona summer.

I just bought a vintage pattern for myself that I’m hoping to sew this summer but I’m looking for the perfect buffalo check fabric.  One that isn’t too thin and has a nice drape to it. Or maybe this nice rayon print from Heather Bailey? Any recommendations for what fabric to use?

Fan Quilt

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

It’s finished!!!! 3years of working on it and it is washed, dried and ready for use!! #fan #quilt #quilting #scrappyquilt

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I finished it, FINALLY!  Yes, it really did take me 3 years to make this lap sized quilt.

up close

I started by hand cutting all of those wedges, I used pink, red and blue scraps left over from projects I’d made in the past. I love quilts where the fabrics tell a story (the red and pink striped fabric was from a dress I made my youngest as a baby, the pink Japanese print is from a messenger bag I made my middle daughter) Because I am a sucker for the old ways I hand stitched the wedges together into fans. Then I began hand appliqueing them to the 9″ white square. After 2 years nearly half the blocks were finished and I decided hand sewing was for the birds.  I machine stitched the rest and put together the sashing.

fan quilt
I wanted the quilt to be a little warmer than the others I’d made, so I used two layers of Warm and Natural batting. Have you ever tried to quilt a double layer of batting on a home sewing machine?!  This is the worst quilting job I have ever done- it was so thick and so hard to quilt. Thank heavens when I washed and dried it- the crinkle effect hid a lot of my mistakes.


The quilt has been added to my pile of slowly growing quilts!  Honestly, I’m kinda proud of myself for not giving up on this project.  It could have easily died a death in the back of my closet, but every summer I brought it out and did a little more work on it. I’ve already put it to use on the back of our couch.

A-Line Dress

Monday, June 1st, 2015


My friend Bonnie wrote a dress pattern (the Infinite A-line) and asked me to stitch it up. She said she couldn’t wait to see what an experienced seamstress came up with.

A big fat beautiful oops!- that’s what I created.

My first mistake was to print the whole pattern without reading it through, I could have saved a lot of paper that way. If I had read the pattern first I would have seen that Bonnie explains the tricks on printing just the size and pieces you need. Next I cut the wrong bodice piece, but I didn’t realize it until after I’d spent 4+ hours embroidering the front and stitching it to the skirt.


I just want to mention the trick on page 15 for attaching the bodice to lining at arm seams…GENIUS! I’ve never seen it done before; now I want to sew all the sleeveless tops just so I can use that trick!

After I stitched everything up I had my daughter try it on, it was gaping at the bodice. I went back over the pattern and measurements trying to figure out what I had done wrong…turns out I used the bodice for the ruffle top- oops.

I am pretty upset with myself for the mistake I made- I put a lot of time into the dress and to fix it I’d have to completely deconstruct it.  I’ve decided it would make a great tunic top for an 8-10 year old girl if I just bring up the hem a bit more.

The A-line is always a great project for any level of seamstress, it lends it self to a myriad of variations and options for embellishments. I would totally recommend the pattern…you know, just read it through first.


Simplicity 1598

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

I love vintage sewing patterns. I not only collect them, but I use them.  I buy them online, at Goodwill (they are getting harder and harder to come buy), but I find most of my patterns at Merchant Square.

vintage Simplicity 1598

After finishing my older daughters Easter dress, I decided to make a play outfit for the youngest- before starting her Easter dress (I’m still shopping for the right pattern).

This one really is easy to sew- I finished it in an afternoon.  I love how practical the pattern is- you use the seam allowance at the waist to make the casing for the elastic.  It is a simple pattern to alter as well (I had to lengthen it into a size 4).

photo 5

Rompers seem to be the new thing for girls (and women?!!!) these days- and I love that once you take the skirt off you’ve got a fun romper to play in.  The only downside is that she needs help to go to the bathroom.  The bias ties at the shoulders have to be undone…maybe if I sewed them into bows she could slide them off her shoulders without help?

photo 2

It is so cute on her- and she loves wearing it…and hearing her call it her “romper” is just the best!  Do you sew with vintage patterns?  For you or your kids?  I’ve only been successful with vintage patterns on the kids, each time I make a dress for me it just doesn’t work out right.

Getting Crafty for Valentines Day

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Something about participating in the Holiday Edition of the Pillow Talk Swap got me in the mood for holiday themed pillows.  If you’ve been following me for a while you know I love the scrappy look for projects.  This pillow is no exception it is a great scrap buster project!


I used some of my very favorite prints: Heather Ross Briar Rose , Find the Narwhal by Sarah Jane, Pinwheels by Sarah Jane all picked up for a steal at SAS.  Rachel Ashwell Twigs from the Wildflower collection (after searching 30min I could not find a purchasing link for you), a repro print from maywood studios that reminds me of wallpaper that I picked up in Afton, WY a few summers ago. My very favorite Liberty print that I got at Purl SoHo’s warehouse in Tustin, CA. It was $24 yd, so I bought a quarter yard and have slowly used to it here and there.  I also included White Floral from Tasha Noel and used it again for binding.


It was rather simple to make as well.  I cut random lengths of 2″ strips of the prints and made a 14×14 patchwork block. Next I cut a 14×14 block of the light grey fabric and basted it to the patchwork square (right side of the patchwork to wrong side of the grey square). Using water soluble ink I traced a 10″ heart onto the grey fabric.  I hand basted around my hand drawn heart and then machine stitched along my inked line.  To make the patchwork visible I cut the grey fabric as close to my stitching as possible (making sure not to cut through the patchwork)- thus revealing the heart!


I sandwiched the heart with batting and a muslin back and hand quilted around the heart and along the horizontal seams of the patchwork.  I have decided hand quilting provides the best puckering post wash.  My daughter is tickled to have this pillow on her bed- so maybe it’s not just for valentines day!

Looking for more valentines day fun?  Check out my free printable valentines Here, Here, Here

I made a quilt

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Quilt- folded

About a week and a half ago Sarah posted about a “potluck quilt” she just finished, I fell in love with it.  hard. I had to make one.  Sarah gave great instructions in her post on how she put together the quilt- I followed her measurements and made just a few changes.

Potluck Quilt

Instead of just one white diamond, I made two.  By the time I cut out my white strips I was done with 3.5″ squares, so the white pieces are actually rectangles.


I used only the scraps I had in my stash (and this didn’t even make a dent, sigh!), I did buy a vintage sheet for the backing.  I LOVE how well the backing puffed up after quilting/washing.  This time around I tried quilt basting spray, I used this June Taylor brand and was very happy with the results.  Here is a great tutorial on how to use it.  There was NO sticky-ness while sewing at all, and I found it did a pretty good job of holding everything together- in spite of my lack luster pinning job.  I will for sure use it again on big projects.  Speaking of which- this is the largest quilt I have ever made, and it was a chore to quilt for sure.  Is there a trick I am missing- quilting on a regular machine?!!


I still can’t believe I finished it- in less than two weeks. I finished it last night and my fingers are now itching for a new project….any ideas for me?!  What have you been sewing?

Quilting for the Boys

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

quilt by heatherhalesdesigns.com

If you have been following a long you know I have made both of my daughters small throw quilts (older daughters here, youngest here).  My son has recently been asking if I am going to make one for him too.  I started pinning and planning for some grand design that would suit his spatial and linear strengths.  Then he asked again a few months later if I was ever going to make a quilt for him.  I decided to just go for it.  I pulled out all of my green, yellow, brown, red and blue scraps and started cutting 4.5″ squares.

quilt by heatherhalesdesigns.com

I have always loved a scrappy quilt, don’t get me wrong I do enjoy a polished well planned, color coordinated quilt too.  But a scrappy quilt just begs to be used and loved, while a nicer quilt is meant more for looking at.  I was inspired by this great quilt at Film In The Fridge.  I loved the bold colors and cross hatched quilting.

quilt by heatherhalesdesigns.com

I added a  bit of sashing on my quilt to keep it from being too square, and I backed it in a soft brown flannel.  It looks great on the end of his bed and is perfect for family movie night on the couch (something we try and do every friday- have any good non-animated family movies to recommend?)  I’m really pleased with how well the quilt turned out (and best of all, so is my son!).

When I posted shots of the quilt in progress on facebook I kept getting comments asking how I found the time to sew.  I’m not going to create any grand illusions here, my 3yo became quite adept at watching My Little Pony on the Kindle and my laundry situation is just embarrassing.  This week I’ll be playing catch-up to the floors, bathrooms and laundry!


King Arthur’s Court

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

This is what happens when you let an almost seven year old pick out the pattern, fabric and trim for her Christmas dress.

It begins to look more  like something meant for a stage production of “King Lear” than for a Christmas church service.  BUT, she loves it; so I guess its all good.

(she wouldn’t smile, she’s was upset that I made her step away from an episode of Curious George!)

So Sunday evening I decided that with family coming for Christmas my daughter needed a special dress to wear.  The budget being as tight as it is, I thought I would make her a dress…thinking if I went with a simple dress I could get fabric for about $10 (with coupons) and all would be well.  Monday morning we headed out to look for fabric….but moaned and moaned over the fact that I would spend the rest of the day sewing the dress and how I didn’t want to.  So, we took a detour to Goodwill in search of a used x-mas dress.  No go.  On the way to the fabric store I got a call from Jaylee, I lamented to her about how I couldn’t find a dress and was going to have to make one.  She started laughing and told me that I was the only person that she knew that would determine if it couldn’t be found at Goodwill, that it must be handmade…as if I had no other options.  I saw her point and laughed at myself.  BUT, I was sure I could get the fabric for less than I could buy a dress at Old Navy (or this $40 one from the Gap).  Well, turns out this lovely Shakespearean dress cost about $28 to make a about 5 hours of my time.  NEXT YEAR I AM BUYING A DRESS, NEW!

To add insult to injury this pattern (Simplicity 2269) was a PAIN to sew.  It looked so simple.  I’ve been sewing for 20+years, but this pattern took the cake!  The yoke for the neck…the pattern pieces were a total nightmare to pin into place and get the fabric to lay flat (from the upper gathers).  The pieces also didn’t quite fit, I ended up cutting off about 2″ from the back neck yoke on either side, just to make it fit.  On a positive note, I do like the bubble sleeves and they were easy peasy to make.  Has anyone else tried this pattern, I would love to hear your review?

New Threads

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Momma got crafty over the weekend!  I scored nearly 2 yards of this Sherbet Pips fabric over the summer at SAS for something ridiculous like $2.99 a pound; and finally got around to using it.


Baby got some new pajamas!  The top fits well, but the pants are a bit too big.  I made them in a size 2, I’m hoping she can wear them through winter and even into next spring.  I used some vintage red/white bias tape I found in Globe last year (Go Arizona for great sewing finds!!).  I have been saving it for just the right project, I am really pleased with how well it looks on the pj’s.  I trimmed the pocket (not pictured) and the bottom of the pants in it as well.

flat felled seams

I even got all fancy and finished all (but the underarm) the seams by flat felling them.  I’ve only done that once before, as it is a bit time consuming.  This time though, when I stitched the seams down, I didn’t stitch all the way through the garment, as I don’t like the extra stitching to show on the outside of the garment.  See this tutorial to see what I mean.


Baby seems to like them just fine!