Culottes Tropicana + O.T.S Top

IMG_6256Aloha! Happy New Year! I could begin with waxing on about where I’ve been and why I’ve been a naughty blogger but that’s boring. You know by now my blogging strategy is ‘sporadic with occasional flashes of brilliance’. But good news! I’ve been absent from the blogosphere because I’ve been trying this new thing where I go out and live a life worth blogging about, instead of sewing a wardrobe for the life I wish I was living. Closing the gap, closing the gap. Around the start of my little blog-cation, I felt I needed to step back from the screen and organise things, namely, my life. I picked up some part time work, enrolled back in University but most excitingly, started salsa dancing again. Oh, but I didn’t stop sewing…fifteen! There are FIFTEEN un-blogged hand-makes from last year. Which makes me a big fat tease for posting photos of them all on Instagram throughout the year. Sigh. Ok. 2016. Fresh start…is anyone still out there…echo echo!

IMG_6234IMG_6237Even though my excitement about seasonal sewing is becoming increasingly more rooted in fantasy than reality (with our eternal summers and my inability to co-ordinate winter sewing), I love the idea of creating a seasonal wardrobe. Actually, it’s also possible I just like making mood boards. This summer wardrobe is deeply inspired by The Reformation, with plenty of bare shoulders, natural fibres, soft hues…and lashings of culottes! I went searching for an vintage off-the-shoulder top in the supplies section of Etsy and came across Simplicity 9967, which couldn’t be more perfect. The fabric is a cotton eyelet by Lover, from The Fabric Store. Time-wise, the top took less than an hour, so naturally I made another one the next day, in a silk print. And I’ll probably make another, maybe plain black. So quick! So good looking! Sewisfaction level 10/10.

IMG_6231The details of how the idea of palm leaf culottes came to be, are hazy. I first spotted this fabric on Erin’s tote bag. Then I spied it in skirt form here. And then suddenly everywhere I looked there was palm print, foliage and tropicana oh my. So I went searching for THE palm leaf print. Which turned up here. It’s called Tommy Bahama ‘swaying palms’, listed as ‘indoor / outdoor’ fabric which should have been my cue to leave it for tote bags and cushion covers and probably not apparel. Code for: stiff A.F. I figured I’d just wash it into submission, which helped, though it’s still a little starchy and mildly exfoliating.
IMG_6104IMG_6244The culottes pattern is Butterick 6178, view D, no pleats. After seeing a whole succession of great fitting pairs come out of Tessuti, I thought maybe they would be The Perfect Culotte Pattern. Totes right! Side pockets, back zipper (invisible), good length and a pretty bang-on fit (size 12) with no modifications. I could do with slightly more length through the seat, but I’m not quite sure whether that’s a simple adjustment of adding a bit more length to the pants at the top, just below the waistband or something more complex through the crotch. Definitely will make these again, in a solid, bottom weight fabric with a slight stretch.
IMG_6063Can we talk for about shoes for a moment. Specifically, shoes and sewing. Admittedly, I don’t own too many pairs, being more of an investment-shoe-buyer. But occasionally I fall in love, like I did with these Shakuhachi flatforms I picked up in Bali, last year. I fell sideways off them the next day, broke one of the straps and then had that strap nailed back on. That’s love. Curiously, as a sewer, shoes have a different relevance than they used to. Now when I find a good pair, they inspire a whole flurry of sewing.  I quite like the idea of building from the ground up and creating fashion around an evocative pair of shoes. And if all my hopes and dreams for an amazing summer could be morphed into shoe-form, this is them! You can expect to see these in 9 out of 10 blogged outfits until autumn arrives, or I fall to my death; whichever comes first. Do shoes ever inspire your hand-makes?

IMG_6347IMG_6354 Binding! Why? Because sewing is penance. And I’ve been very very bad. Sometimes I do wonder if I’m becoming a seam finishing snob. Zig-zagging has its place, yes, over-locking is respectable, of course, but binding…is so damn prettaaaayyy! Never mind that I’m 99% sure those bound centre seams are the reason these pants deliver a spectacular front wedgie when driving.

IMG_5990Gah! The one thing I didn’t think about and wish I had is pattern placement. No faux-ginas here but I don’t love the print being so matchy-matchy at the front. I should have cut the two front pieces out separately instead of having the fabric doubled over where I couldn’t see I was cutting out two identical front pant legs. It’s not a huge deal, I don’t think it’s something you would really think about about unless you’re a sewist.


DIY Espadrilles

ADA SPRAGG | DIY EspadrillesHello my loves! Today I have a tutorial for your that is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread: DIY ESPADRILLES! If you’ve been following my Insta feed you would have seen sneak peaks posted along the way. It has taken every shred of will-power not to post the entire tutorial there. I’m going to be straight with you: there is nothing too technical here. They don’t even take that long. But there is some grunt-work. At the end of which you will have DIY’d yourself a freakin pair of shoes! Like, real shoes you can actually wear. Alternatively you may want to display them somewhere high-vis with good traffic flow and bask in their attention for a while. Are you ready?!

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DIY SPORTY LUXE: Skirt of A Thousand Pleats

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeThe inspiration for this DIY’d outfit caaaame to me in a visionnnn (cue woo woo eyes). No. Wait. It was Gorman. It came to me in Gorman. I was wandering around, trying to figure out what to make with the two yards of METALLIC GOLDEN LINEN under my arm. Something that would slip casually and effortlessly into my hand-made wardrobe without so much as a ‘Sup guys?’. Wait, backstory: I had a scheduled free choice project upcoming with Britex Fabrics, saw ‘Brilliant Metallic Gold Stretch Cotton & Linen Blend‘ in their novelty section, thought ‘Oooo funsies’ and ordered it without another thought. So when the fabric arrived, exactly as described in all it’s metallic goldeness, I was a little confronted. Okay, I totally freaked. Me, a metallic virgin, cruising through life certain there were two types of people in this world: metallic wearers and non-metallic wearers. And here, I, of the non-metallic variety, with two yards and a time-frame.

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeI must stop right here and tell you this fabric is LUSH! Metallic and gold, yes but shiny and blinding, no, with the linen content giving it this beautiful grainy, matte, texture. No sunglasses necessary. It was more: what could I make that would do it justice and that I would wear, like, on my person? I saw visors and high waist summer shorts and cropped tees and two-piece sets, which were all not bad ideas. I almost cut out the Named Inari dress and realised I would wear a gold shift dress probably never. I petted the fabric, held it up to the mirror, sifted through Pinterest, thumbed the pattern stash; all the usual hot spots for divine inspiration but nothing, NOTHING! I thought I had made a huge mistake.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeThat is how I ended up in Gorman, one of my favourite Australian clothing brands and one of the few places I still buy RTW (when I’m not shopping for “inspiration”). If you’re not familiar, let me summarise: for colour, print and pattern lovers, Gorman is the mecca. Add to this killer silhouettes, interesting cuts and designs which are virtually ageless and you will understand their almost cult status. Gah, just see for yourself! I buy significantly less Gorman these days but my hand-made wardrobe is influenced by them more than ever. And it was looking around at their current collection Moth and Moon with all unlikely combinations of colours and prints they’d paired so beautifully with metallics that I realised I’d had it SO wrong! I had put metallics in the too garish, too blingy, too glitzy, too much something box. When what I’d needed to be asking all along was: ‘WHAT WOULD GORMAN DO?! The answer…some awesome sporty-luxe pleated skirt, probably.
ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty Luxe
ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeI found this pattern for a Pleated Wrap Skirt and it was exactly what I was imagining! I LOVE that it’s a wrap skirt. After putting zipper’s into everything, the idea of not sewing one and climbing into a piece of clothing in a new way is novel and fun! I was hoping someone might have posted a comprehensive review on Burdastyle with detailed illustrations of each step, but alas, no. It is truly an amazing skirt and totally worth the sew but you need to be prepared to do your own thing with the instructions; I abandoned them after paragraph two because they made-a-no-sensa to me. Oh and there’s the mystery of the phantom 4th pattern piece. The pleated section is supposed to be made up of four lengths of fabric, three long + one shorter one, stitched together. It never became obvious what this shorter length was for. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut it out and when I attached the pleats to the yoke they fitted perfectly, having used only the three long lengths…ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeAhhh the pleating. Ohhh the pleating. My gawd. The PLEATING. Four point two meters in total. I’ve never pleated anything before in my life. Which was probably a good thing, going in blind. Granted, the instructions did say ‘create pleats with commercial pleating machine’ which I thought was hilarious (sure, just let me get one out of my pocket) until I later found out that there are real places that do this, should you want to avoid hand-pleating yourself. Then there was the question of: does this fabric even hold a pleat? Does it ever! This fabric loves any kind of pressing pleated action. It holds a crease so well you really want to transfer it to a roll / tube after it’s been folded up in the mail. I can only guess it’s because, with the iron cranked to the max setting, you’re virtually melting the 2% lycra content in the fabric into a new shape, forever. It’s magical. My pleating plan was to draw up 1/2 ” pleats on the back side (the fabric melts from the front side, der) and break the pleating job down into sections and hours. My forearms cried. I wanted to quit. But the vision! THE VISION!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty LuxeSomewhere during Pleatgeddon I needed a distraction in the form of a woven Linden Sweatshirt. If you’ve ever sewn a Linden, you will know that it’s like coming home. For my first Linden ever (to be blogged soon) I made a 6. In a knit, the fit was perfect. For this woven version, I sized up to an 8. The fabric is a cotton eyelet from The Fabric Store, which I dyed navy. The cuffs, hem band and neck band are ribbing, a delicious navy merino from here, which made the whole sewing process the same as for a knit version. I French seamed the insides, since you can see through from the outside. My only mod, which I’ve done for both Linden’s now, is to shorten the length of the hem-band by 2-3″ so it fits closer to the hips and then hangs over the top. To me, this is how a classic sweatshirt sits.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sporty Luxe

Sew proud, sew very proud!


DIY Bali Bikini

thumb__MG_0991_1024As always I feel like I should offer some kind of explanation as to where (TF) I’ve been hiding out but it would be a heavily fabricated tale involving schedules, motherhood, auto-immune rashes, absent camera lenses and yeah I’d rather slap myself with a dead fish than hear it too. So here’s a DIY bikini! I have to say, it is one of my most favourite, un-hand-made looking hand-makes ever. Maybe even THE favourite. And so you’re not under any illusions, it was followed up by one of the worst sewing fails ever (two words: dude crotch). Why am I sewing swimwear in the middle of Australian winter, literally after finishing a cosy Linden Sweatshirt, you ask? An event that’s not that unusual but this time my beloved little brother announced he is moving to New York, like, next week and thought we should brocation someplace warm and lush before he leaves: step in Bali!
ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali Bikini
Yes of course my first thoughts were DIY TRAVEL WARDROBE. But then, I didn’t want to get all manic over it only to get to our Aruyvedic Yoga retreat to have to explain that my dosha was all out of balance due to lifestyle factors i.e sewing ALL the things. Plus I was, am, happily in the zone of winter sewing. So, I settled on a compromise: One Pinterest moodboard + four sewn pieces. Which turned into two pieces, one of which was the aforementioned fail. In the end, just this bikini, which thank gaaaawd, turned out pretty damn fine!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniLet’s talk about the patterns first. I have so much love for both of these. For the top I used the Beverly Twisted Bikini by Named, which is a fully lined, halter neck style top with long wide straps that can be twisted or knotted at the front and closes with a clasp at the back. It also has totally invisible boning inserted in the sides (second pic below) for extra support. In one of those serendipitous sewing scenarios I had the fabric, the lining, the under-bust elastic and the clasp all in my stash and just so happened to have an old and dying bikini with nearly the exact size boning needed for the Beverly. From my experience with Named patterns, the instructions are always on point. And if you’re going to be tackling something like boning, or boning in a stretch fabric, you really want to know that you’re going to be guided through it like a toddler. I was so seriously impressed. And so excited to melt the ends of boning with actual fire!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniIt’s also obvious how much thought has gone into the details and finishes. Being fully lined, the overall result is so clean and so pro. Only one section of visible top stitching, on the under bust band, but if you’re having a purest moment, like I was, you can move this stitching slightly over and ‘stitch in the ditch’.  I will admit, when I first saw this pattern, I wasn’t so sure I’d even be able to wear it. Not so much bust size, which is something to factor in, but more so if you desire support via bust ‘shaping’. What is not obvious from the pattern photos or the description is that there are secret sections of swimwear elastic sewn into and around the bust which are absolutely necessary and also do a damn fine job of gently ushering your girls where they need to be. Something to take note of, which isn’t mentioned in the pattern, is you will see both your lining and main fabric in the twisted section. I initially cut out swimwear lining before realising this and had to go back and cut new lining pieces out of the main fabric. Only I didn’t have enough so one strap is made out of two pieces joined together.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniThe bottoms were always going to be high waisted! I probably could have copied them from this swimsuit but I wanted to try a pattern that was out there for comparison. And also to be more helpful. The Ohhh Lulu Ava briefs make the perfect high waist bikini bottoms. The only modification I made was adding a waistband, which changed the order of construction slightly but ended up making the finish super neat. If you’re on the taller side you may need to add more length in the waist, which you can either do by just extending the line of the waist upwards or adding a waistband.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali Bikini A waistband makes a nice feature and also means they’re less likely to ride down than when sewn with just a thin line of swimsuit elastic, when water-logged. Something I found out with this pair. Construction-wise the waistband ends up sandwiched between the lining and main fabric. You sew this all inside out and turn back the right way through the leg holes (the crotch seam is already sewn at this point). Then the final step is adding elastic to the leg holes and topstitching (zig zag or beloved coverstitch) down through both lining and main fabric together.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniThe fabric is swimwear lycra from my fav ladies at Tessuti. They always have the most gorgeous swimwear fabric and I like to check in regularly come summer! I love it’s whole boho Tigerlily / Zimmerman vibe. Finding exciting swimwear prints is not hard, there are lots of hot spots online now. I keep thinking how great it would be if Spoonflower were to offer up an amazing quality swimsuit fabric as another option to get designs printed on. I sent them an email about it last year. I think I will keep pestering. In the mean time another source of beautiful swimwear fabric I’ve discovered is Pretty Mercerie. There’s also The Fabric Store (in store only) and Pitt Trading.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniAaah, Bali. Colourful. Intoxicating. A feast for the senses. And incense. So much incense! You really do get the feeling you are in the heart Chakra of the world. We spent the first part of the week at Sukhavati Yoga Retreat which, should you ever find yourself in that part of the world, is something else. Twice daily yoga, sumptuous vegetarian cuisine, compulsory daily massages (Ok, so breasts are included apparently), scrubs, facials, fresh fruit and vegie juices to your room (my favourite part) in a rainforest, on the edge of a creek, in a little village. The end. ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniNot even! We took day trips to nearby Ubud which had a very Byron Bay feel (and lots of penis keyrings, see below) and Seminyak, for some shopping and eats. Came back with shoes and a RTW playsuit, of all things. The last two days were spent at the amazing Ayana Resort at Jimbaran. Of course being travel, there were moments of overwhelm. Like the time I got served up a crab appetiser literally seconds after miming No Seafood, NO SEAFOOD.  Overall, an exquisite adventure…Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetIMG_5313Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_5302IMG_5298IMG_5186Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset





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Hello my pretties! I am without camera lens / back up photographer this week so alas I cannot share a finished sewn piece with you. Instead I thought it might be a nice opportunity to give back in the very best way I know how…by  handing over the keys to my favourite (inc. some previously top secret) online sources for jaw-dropping, traffic stopping printed fabrics. Through these shops I have lovingly ferreted (with minimal self-invested interest) to put together a selection of prints which are, in my opinion, top shelf, next level uh-mazing! Prints that are out there, for sale, right now. Just a click away. I should probably state that this is not a sponsored post. I am however, a professional enabler by trade.

Sometimes I get asked how and where I find amazing printed fabrics? It is true, I have developed a finely tuned print seeking radar. But believe me, it’s not a special skill. ANYONE can hone it! Since I started buying fabric online, I’ve built up a mental treasure trove of pretty print hot spots. It’s a pretty random list of sources but it’s always fruitful. Most of these shops (listed below) have a high turnover so I like to ‘check in’ once a week. No need to obsess. The prints are out there. And they will come.

Etsy is my not-really-secret source of amazing prints! I would guess that the craft supplies section on Etsy is as huge as the hand-made section. To get to the fabrics, you type in what you’re searching for ie ‘printed silk’ and you will be able to select from a list of categories, one of which is ‘Craft Supplies and Tools’, then narrow your search further by selecting ‘Fabrics’. Sometimes you do have to wade through quite a bit of meh fabric to find some print gems, but it makes them all the more sweeter!

Etsy Shops

Miss Matatabi

Lazy Ruler

Bonita Fabric

HQ Fabric Family

Other Online

The Sweet Mercerie

Tessuti Fabrics

Emma One Sock


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