Midi Skirt + Mini Shorts

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAda Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAda Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAda Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAda Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + Shorts

Pattern: Named Apila Shorts + self-drafted overlay

Fabric: Stretch cotton from The Fabric Store + silk for overlay

Size: 38

I’m not sure what’s happening to time but as I get closer to thirty, it feels like I’m living in a vacuum. I made this skirt in September last year, SEPTEMBER!  I stole the idea directly from this skirt, which I had pinned to a summer sewing ideas board even before that. It does concern me, this merging of seasons and years into one big blur. It was one of those ideas that probably wouldn’t have come to fruition if I didn’t accidentally find the perfect fabric. I wouldn’t have gone looking something sheer and panelled but I was searching for something else on Etsy, possibly trims, and bought it on a whim.

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsBuying fabric online is a game of roulette I like to play. It either goes one of two ways: the fabric turns up and it’s exactly what you were hoping, or it turns up and you realise the monitor lied, the texture is weird and it smells like old person. Happily, this fabric was the former! I’ve bought a few pieces from Lazy Ruler before and never been disappointed with the quality. They always seem to source some truly unique fabrics from who knows where. This one is absolutely d.i.v.i.n.e; a beautiful natural coloured slubby silk with sections of sheer organza-like something in between. It was sold in panels so I figured the length would be good for a midi skirt and two panels would be enough to go around front and back with some sort of pleatage. Plus an extra panel incase of f&$* ups.

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAda Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsAs for a plan, nada! I thought a good place to start was to find a pattern for the under shorts which was high waisted, with a side zipper and a relatively slim leg so as not so have too much volume with my volume. The Named Apila shorts were perfect! I had the pattern in the stash from a bulk buy-up of their second pattern collection, which I am still yet to make up anything from …Ailakki jumpsuit, Vanamo two-piece. Heart eyes! Shame face.

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsConstruction wise, I made up the shorts all but attaching the waist band and inserting the zipper. Separately, I made up the overlay of the skirt, starting with some teensy french side seams, leaving them open from the zipper point. Then I measured out the pleats and basted them in place mostly even! The waistband I constructed out a section of one of the slubby parts of the silk from the spare panel piece. To attach everything together I sandwiched the overlay between the shorts and waistband.

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + ShortsTo put in the zipper took a little wizardry. Somehow, and I’m still not exactly sure how, I managed to insert the zipper through both the over-lay and the shorts and continue the french seam in the skirt down the side seams. It’s held together with pixie dust! Really. I’ve had to reinforce this section once already and the waist band is about to fray on the inside. Still, I broke the cardinal rule of sewing blogging and wore this many many times before it made it here, which is to say I love her so!

Ada Spragg | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Sheer Midi + Shorts


Semi-Self-Drafted Dress

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDrop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comFiller post! With bonus hand-make! So I thought it might be interesting to share a side project from last year while I’m in the process of shooting some recent springy / summery sews. It’s a rambling tale, one that I haven’t properly dissected until now, but the abbreviated version is that last year, I was randomly approached by a US publishing company with the possibility of creating an open-ended sewing book of sorts. As in, a book of my designs, with sewing patterns in the back. Initially the publisher didn’t realise that all the hand-makes I share on the blog, are sewn from other people’s patterns…which is pretty obvious when you actually read the posts. So it started off as a flippin exciting and viable idea to looking like a very expensive and high risk one from the publishers end, as I would have had to outsource alllll the pattern drafting and grading. Turns out, several quotes later, this service is massively expensive here (and rightly so, there’s a freakin lot of work and skill involved) and multiplied by 8-10 different designs, the publisher came to the conclusion that their allocated budget wouldn’t come close to covering it. This all took place over a several month period in which I worked with a local service to have one design trialled and drafted into actual pattern form, to suss out costs and time involved. Answer: A LOT and A LOT. We left on good terms with the lines open for the future in case of any less costly book ideas (insert cry-laugh face).

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comI learned so much. The whole process was equal parts frustrating and interesting. Firstly, I now know I am not remotely interested in the technical aspect of drafting patterns. That is a good thing to realise. The design and concept side of things, yes. The technicalities, no. Happy to outsource drafting and grading forever and always, if in future I wanted to produce sewing patterns, which is looking unlikely. For those who actually do this crazy shit for a living, I am in awe. Mucho respect to our beloved independent pattern companies: Closet Case Files, True Bias, Baste and Gather etc etc etc…all of you!

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDrop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comThe creative process is basically one big tussle, ain’t it? Even when it’s just you and you. One of my fav popular musings on it ~ This is Awesome! This is tricky. This is shit. I am shit. This might be okay. This is Awesome! ~ So true. And when you’re trying to get your ideas out of your head and into someone else’s, it’s adds a whole new dimension. Words on their own weren’t enough to convey the idea, sketches didn’t quite reach either and in the end we arrived at an agreement of how this particular dress should sit and fit and move from a combination of talking it out, sketches and fabric swatches. We did four or five muslins, which maybe could have been two or three, had we muslined the dress in a similar fabric to the actual version, something lightly and floaty, rather than stiff calico. As you can imagine, it was kind of hard to gauge how the actual fabric might fall.

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comAnd the result? A dress that is actually pretty close to what I was imagining. Which was: a loose fit, high-ish necked bodice with kimono sleeves / dropped shoulder, a front placket, gathered waist, raised slightly higher in front and lower at the back, round knee length-ish hem scooped up at the side, french seamed with bias bound neck and armsicles and waist seam. And a cherry on top. I sewed up this sample size in this silk crepe de chine print from The Fabric Store but I actually think it might work better in a solid, since some of the features get lost. Am I allowed to confess, after all that, that I’m not totally in love with it? Don’t slap me. I’m actually okay with this. Seeing it come to life from an idea was irrevocably the coolest thing ever.

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comTo be honest, when it didn’t all go ahead, of course I was disheartened but a little part of me was relieved. The timing was not great. I’m not sure I really had the creative energy to devote to such a massive project last year, with my littlest man still at home. So, I’ve filed this one away in the box of life experiences! And the dress and pattern are just kinda chillin with their homies for now. As always, I love to hear your thoughts…and am curious…would you actually wear this dress? What’s working / not working?


Metallic Midi Dress

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comHi lady loves! I have a fresh-off-the machine dress to share with you today. It was a happy experiment. I wasn’t sure I would be in love with it since it feels like a pretty major deviation from my usual style (whatever that is) but I’ve worn it on two separate occasions already this week so I know what we have is real…

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comLast post I mentioned The Reformation as the mother source of all spring / summer sewing inspo. I would like to make all the things but have had a particular dress, similar to this one and this one, on my mind for a while now. I also kind of love this whole colour block / 90’s heels combination that designers like Maryam Nassir Zadeh are playing with. And so I thought, what is fashion without risk? So I give you rusty metallic sack dress with lavender block heels. Work with me here.

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comPattern-wise, this dress is loosely based on a RTW piece, which I do buy every now and then. A healthy hand-made wardrobe can be supplemented with thoughtful RTW. I really believe that. The original dress is a plain-as denim shift with highish neck and a scooped out back and a hem that hits above the knee. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m in it 2 out of 7 days every week. So I did what any stealthy sewist would do and copied the pattern. Also it was ridiculously priced for what it is, but now it’s justified because I can replicate it forever and ever.

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comTo get from that dress to this one, I kept the original neckline and back and extended the side seams straight down and out. I wasn’t originally going to give it a split up the sides but when I tried it on mid-sewing without the split there was too much sackness going on and it needed something extra. Skin, mostly. And I think that is what I’m loving about the style and why it feels so feminine to wear is it’s a little bit shapeless, a little bit demure and then BAM, leg.

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comIMG_7022Now if you wanted to make something similar I realise this is all a bit unhelpful. Fret not. Before I decided to base this dress on a RTW piece, which was more laziness than anything, I was going to start from scratch and modify a pattern to get to the same dress. The Tessuti Kate top would be my first pick; from there you would extend it to dress length and scoop out the back. I feel like it would be a simple modification from any woven A-line tank top or dress pattern, like the Wiksten tank or the Grainline Studio Tiny Pocket Tank. I so desperately would love to share the pattern with you somehow. But I feels that could be bad creative karma.

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comHow did we get this far without talking about the fabric? Synthetic. All the way. No idea what is in it but it pressed well, and holds a crease, as you can see. I found her at The Fabric Store and she lured me in with her slinky rust metallic luxeness. Up close the texture is almost like mini scales, which you can’t see in these pics and I didn’t manage to get a photo of. It was actually raining here so I was grateful to even get a couple of decent shots and not end up with a fro.

DIY Midi Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.com


Cherry Blossom Co-Ords

DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.com The co-ords are back! And I like to think they’ve had a little coming-of-age: less kitsch, more chic. Right now I’m feeling deeply inspired by all things The Reformation: colours, silhouettes, 70’s off the shoulder, 90’s sundresses. And I’m not sure if it’s because fashion seems to be drawing so much influence from previous decades at the moment, but I’m discovering that nearly all of the RTW versions have a matching sewing pattern out there somewhere. If there’s not a new one, there’s a vintage one. I’ve been hungrily pinning fabrics, patterns and inspiration to a summer sewing moodboard (feel free to pilfer). On that note, I think i’ll just keep sewing summer clothes. All year. Because Winter is not coming. Which is equal parts unnerving and convenient. Unnerving because we’re screwed. And convenient because now there’s no more FOMO about being in opposite sewing seasons to everrrryone else. Sometimes it feels that way…all arrone…down here in the southern hemisphere. Happy Spring y’all!
DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comThe top is another version of vintage Simplicity pattern 9967. If you’re looking for this pattern, keep a close eye on Etsy or Ebay. When I bought this one there were several others available from other sellers. Plus it was cheap too, so I don’t think it’s a particularly rare pattern.  The fabric is a silk crepe de chine from The Fabric Store (they’re online now). Originally I was thinking maybe a kimono but then realised I would get the most mileage out of two co-ordinating separates, which could be worn together as a grown up romper.

IMG_6915IMG_6924I’ve only sewn up two patterns from Pattern Runway, but it’s enough to knows I like them. My first foray was these scalloped shorts, which surprisingly have become one of my most worn hand-made items and have recently been retired due to structural instability (literally, falling apart at the seams). That their heir, version no.3, is already cut out, is telling of how I feel about them. And now a new one! These paperbag waist babies; a Pattern Runway freebie that I am rather smitten with, from the pages of beloved Aussie eco-fashion magazine, Peppermint. It’s so exciting when you discover a pattern with the whole package…beautiful drafting, interesting design features and pretty insides. It really make this whole hand-made wardrobe business a legit and preferable alternative to buying clothes! Why wouldn’t you bother?

DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comWhat makes a beautiful pattern? Or better still, a sew-again pattern? Good drafting and fit always. They tend to determine whether a hand-made garment becomes a much-loved garment and if it gets worn at all, regularly or demoted. Personally I feel it’s the smaller details that really make a piece sing; a facing here, a french seam there. We all have our favourite pattern companies too, the ones you know you can rely on to leave you satisfied.

DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comI had good feels about these. Design wise, they are simple but have enough special details to elevate them from shorts to Le Shorts. French seamed pockets; not necessary but a delight! Faced hem bands, scooped ever so slightly up into the side seams. A paperbag waist with drawstring…ok, that’s enough (fans face). And the process! No guesswork. This I like. Everything lined up. This I also like. It was interesting to see the waist section come together…I know by now that the instructions from Pattern Runway patterns are always great. So I just trusted and followed them like a diligent, well behaved sewer.

DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comI went for self fabric ties with little brass stoppers, which are actually a bit clunky and pelt my thighs when I walk. I do love the effect of using ropey cord for the drawstring, like the pattern version. The shorts really look nice in a solid fabric too, and the design details are more obvious. Oh understitching, you complete me! It’s like a little pause where you get to tune out and zone into something small and detailed. Much the same joy as top-stitching jeans brings. One thing I am never sure of is when you turn your facing and seam away from the main fabric in preparation to understitch, sometimes they get you to jump straight into the understitching without pressing first and other times you press the facing and seam away first. I prefer to press away first as I never feel totally confident that that I will understitch accurately with billowy unpressed fabric. Is there a right way?

DIY Co-ords | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.com

Construction notes 

  • The pattern asks for 28mm elastic. Couldn’t find this width and received a puzzled look from the lady at Spotlight. 25mm ended up being perfect…not sure if this was a typo.
  • Before stitching the button holes (or punching in eyelets) in the waistband, I was graced with the sewers foresight to interface this area. An especially good idea when sewing silk.
  • Instead of top-stitching the hem facing down, like the pattern asks, I thought I should honour this fabric with an invisible (mostly) hem.
  • Epic sad face: when my serger ate up fabric, going around the curve of the crotch seams. It kept munching into the fabric before I could usher it out of the way!

I appreciate that this style is not everyone’s beef. But if you love the concept of a high waist and mid thigh length you will love the result. Personally I think I would like an extra inch in length…



DIY Leather Bucket Bag

DIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada SpraggWell, last week was a week of firsts…hand-made jeans: check. First online class: check. Wait, what? So if I’ve been a little quiet on social media in the last month it’s because I’ve been beavering away planning, sewing, filming and putting together an online sewing class for this DIY Leather Bucket Bag. Eeeeeee!

DIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada SpraggThis all came about quite serendipitously. I was approached by Skillshare late last year about the idea of putting together an online sewing class, covering the subject of ‘whatever I like’. So in the spirit of 2016 I said yes first and freaked out later. At first it was suggested that I could teach a learn-to-sew style class…even after sewing for over six years, the idea of being considered an authority on sewing fundamentals is not my beef. But pass me an obscure material and an idea for a high-risk DIY and I’ll run with it, any day!

DIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada SpraggOne would dare say leather bucket bags are trending right now and to be honest, for quite a while I was going to buy one. But then I thought, how hard could it be? It’s just a rectangle plus a circle with straps and a cord. I drafted up a template. Bought a beautiful hide, some basic leather working tools, did some research and got to it! Argh, of course there were hurdles along the way. And then the filming… my god. As a mostly-introvert, speaking my thoughts aloud on camera for 8 + hours (and having to make sense and not do weird faces) was intense. Oh and the part where I punch a hole in the exact place I tell everyone not to punch it. Le sigh. But the result: pure leather bucket bag deliciousness and a class that I am so excited and proud to share with you!

DIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada SpraggDIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada Spragg In the class you will learn:

  • how to sew leather using a domestic / home sewing machine
  • how to set up your machine and the different types of stitches required
  • how to use basic leather working tools
  • how to create a custom metallic monogram and leather tassels

You will come away with your own hand-crafted, personalised and damn-fine-looking bucket bag and also new knowledge and confidence to sew with leather; a typically “tricky” material. Spoiler: it’s not tricky. DIY Leather Bucket Bag | Ada SpraggOf course I would be honoured / love you (maybe forever) to enrol in my class and DIY yourself a leather bucket bag. If you enrol via this link, Skillshare will give you a month of premium membership for free!

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