DIY High-waisted bikini

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniSo I just popped off to Bali for the weekend, to shoot my latest hand-make because that’s the kind of life I lead didn’t you know? Ugh…I wish! I guess one of the ‘perks’ of being physically grounded, at least for now, is I have to live out my travel dreams through my hand-made wardrobe. Which means getting creative with photography locations. So, no, I am not in the steamy jungles of Bali, or Ecuador, or Madagascar but I did have to brave a whole host of wildlife, including Khaki-Breasted Groundsmen (they were on the lookout for the ‘Boobie’ Warbler, I believe), at this very public city garden / pool scape. It looks like I’m having a great time, doesn’t it? Hanging out, here, in nature, with the frogs croaking and the mosquitoes singing. I love nature, really I do…DA FUQ just touched my FOOT?!!! The things I do for you, honestly.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniAs anyone who’s DIY inclined would know, the day before New Year’s Eve really is the perfect time to think about sewing a bad-ass printed jumpsuit for the occasion. Until you realise that actually, as your first NYE in 5 years (longer?) sans kiddies, you over-looked the whole NYE plans part. And then you’re horrible depressed and the only thing that would possibly make up for a fizzled NYE would be to welcome New Years Day via stand-up paddle board, in some killer hand-made bikini, whilst you sail past the hung-over souls, wiping sand from their eyeballs; a picture of vitality and hand-made awesomeness. The. Only. Way. So, I abandoned the jumpsuit, got cracking on this bikini and along with another NYE plan-less friend, we rose early and had a perfectly serendipitous day of paddle-boarding, beautiful weather, delicious food and substantial feelings of smugness!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniThat was January and I’ve been dying to share this bikini with you ever since! Though, a warning, this post should probably be treated as inspiration only. On every other level it’s uh, not very helpful. Really, you’ll see. I’ve been pining hard for a high waisted bikini since forever ever (see evidence here). Are high waists flattering? I think so. Apparently not, according to one male source, unusually passionate on the subject of high waist bikinis now I think about it. Short of starting a movement to have them banned on all major beaches in three states, he was not a fan. Personally, I do like the shape and after having kids, I feel more comfortable and secure when I’ve got from belly-button below covered but I know not everyone loves them. What are your feels?ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniThere are a few options out there for bikini sewing patterns, but not too many. I think swimwear patterns are still a relatively un-tapped niche, heads up pattern designers. There’s the much loved Bombshell swimsuit by Closet Case Files which has a high waisted bikini bottom option. Named patterns have just released the Beverly bikini, which is really cute though I’ll probably be raising the waist. There’s the Soma swimsuit by Papercut with a variety of one piece and bikini options. A handful of basic swimsuit patterns by commercial companies. And that’s it really. I would really like to see a pattern released for a long-line bikini top with proper cups, moulding and underwire, something like this or this.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniFor me, and I’m pretty sure most women, regardless of cup size, support is paramount in a bikini top. I decided to experiment by taking one of my old RTW bikini tops which I know has an exceptional fit and gutting it. I pulled the entire thing apart, including the foam moulding in the cups and subbed in a new fabric, this dreamy swimwear lycra by Zimmerman from Tessuti, where there used to be black, keeping the white for the cups and straps. Then I stitched it all back together and voila, new bikini. I’m sure if ever decide to study pattern making then dismantling clothing would be a good way to learn. It’s like a puzzle, seeing how everything goes together and in what order and which techniques are being used in the fashion industry, compared to home-sewing.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY High Waisted BikiniFor the bottoms, well I did the same thing, cut up a RTW piece, traced the pieces, extended the waist to be a high waist, added a lining, added elastic for the legs and waist and cover-stitched it all in place. See…unhelpful! But okay, should you want to make something similar, there are options. Again, there’s the Bombshell high waist bottoms, the Soma bikini bottoms or just go the route of extending a regular pair of undies or bikini bottoms to be high waisted. At least then you know the fit is good and snug. You especially want your leg elastic to be snug if you plan on taking your bikini away from the poolside into the surf or you will spend half your time un-plucking wedgies and the other half pretending French knickers was exactly what you were going for, thank you.ZimmermanBikini-7

Photography by Annie Jane Imagery 


DIY Lingerie | Watson & Co.

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsI made a bra, I made a bra, I made a bra today hey HEY! This is sewing thrills right here. I think I mentioned in a post a while back that for me, lingerie, jeans and swimwear are those final frontier sewing items. The ones you put up high on a the maybe-one-day shelf. Then even when you are ready, there’s the whole issue of finding patterns for the above items that well, you actually want to make. No pattern snobbery here (if you would kindly put down that rotary cutter) but let’s be honest, Indie pattern designers are making it verrrry easy to start checking off those big ticket items by bringing out all these damn good looking patterns. Like this one, the Watson bra by Cloth Habit (I’m also looking at you Ginger Jeans).

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsPre-Watson, my biggest fear about sewing a bra was running into fit issues. What if I just kept trying endless combinations of bra-band and cup sizes, never quite getting a good fit? And then not knowing how to tweak it or make the necessary adjustments (because bra construction is a whole separate game to garment sewing). My sew-jo crushed, I would fall into a Watson-induced stupor, never to return. A logical chain reaction surely? But it didn’t go down like that at all…ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsTo find the bra-band size I measured my rib cage as a 34. Then I read somewhere that you should exhale and measure and this will give you a better fitting bra (you want the bra band to be firm to provide stability in place of under-wire). Which was more a 32. To establish your cup size you measure your full bust, then you measure your high bust and by a clever little calculation, the difference will allocate you a cup size. This system works perfectly well as long as you don’t have highly advanced pectorial muscles from ex-crossfitting, child-slinging, shoulder-hunching days. In other words, above my bust I am broad and so there was hardly any differenc, approx 1″, between my high bust measurement and my bust measurement, which put me at an A cup. In standard bra sizing, I am generally a 32 C ish. So I went with that. And it fits. A little snug in both the cup and the band, so I’m going to experiment with a 34 C next, but still very wearable.

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsI LOVE the style of the Watson! It’s new for me. And I was dubious about the support and the sexy factor. Like almost every other woman, I am used to bras that hoist you up, pull you in and mould you into a universally ‘aesthetically pleasing’ shape. Soft cup bras with no under-wire and no moulding….I wasn’t sure. But they’re feminine and totally sexy in a more loving, let’s celebrate YOU, kind of way. Prior to the Watson, I didn’t know this long-line bra was actually a thing. Now I’m seeing them everywhere, see Fortnight Lingerie and Nanhina Shop. The support is pretty impressive, I was truly expecting some wayward side boob action but the Watson is so ingeniously designed that the firm bra band actually does a great job of holding things in place. Sewing the matching bikini briefs was a no-brainer and took half the time the bra took and the bra only took one evening so yup…the perfect quickie project!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsDo you ever get amusing reactions when people find out that you sew? Typically I find it has three stages: 1. Surprise and Confusion (Really? You actually sew? Like, sewing sewing?). Followed closely by 2. Justification (Ohhh, you must save lots of money making your own clothes). And it inevitably ends with 3. Lessons in History (but I thought sewing, you know, died out…). And then you’re either cool or weird or…wait, that’s 4. Compartmentalising. But then you go on-line and there’s this whole other universe where sewing is not dying but alive and thriving and having a re-birth! This is really a special time to be sewing / learning to sew. We have so much choice now when it comes to good looking, ‘relevant’ patterns, thanks to all the Indie companies. And if that weren’t enough reason to love them, you get the feeling the designers behind them actually care about whether you to make it to the final step or not. Where all this is going is, between Amy’s instructions included with the pattern and her Sew-a-long online, I felt held and cradled (not unlike my tutties) sewing my first bra, not scared at all!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bralette & Bikini BriefsFor my first attempt at DIY lingerie I decided to bi-pass the hard work of sourcing all the hardware and ordered a ready-to-go Watson Bra Making Kit in the purple / peach colourway. This really is the way to go, especially if you don’t have access to reliable haberdashery, which I don’t. I love the mesh look so much, I went looking for more colours and have since ordered samples of mesh from here in ALL the colours to make ALL the Watsons. I’m totally hooked!


DIY Culottes | A Britex-enabled make

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesWell, hello there. Representing Australia in Green and Gold….I kid! I didn’t mean to look so, um representative. I was going for colour-block loveliness not Aussie Olympicness! Anyway, I’m pretty excited to share this make with you today. A pair of culottes is what. Confused? Has fashion regressed? Well, yes and no. Culottes are back, that’s one thing. Thankfully there’s been some advances since last time culottes were officially ‘in’ and they’re looking less like this  and more like the super svelt pair you see before you. Thanks, I’ll take it.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesI’ve wanted in on this culotte revival since this pair, then this pair and then suddenly there were ALL the pairs so I did what any sew-obsessed woman would do and created an inspiration board (shrine) to keep track of ALL the pairs. What is so deeply appealing about this strange hybrid midi-skirt-long-shorts garment? Let me try and put it into words: a. Culottes are fun b. Culottes are practical and c. Culottes are…they are just great ok?! Work with me here.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesDo you find there certain elements you are drawn to planning your hand-made wardrobe? I always feel I’m drawn to interesting silhouettes. And the shape of culottes makes them super fun to play with proportions. You can pair them with a boxy crop, a slouchy sweater or a button-down shirt. I love them with a heel (or in leather), in a vibrant solid colour or a busy print! Done right, with a ‘restrained’ amount of pleating near the hips, they’re actually really flattering (you had your doubts, don’t lie) not to mention versatile. They hit that sweet spot between being under-stated feminine and utalitarian. You’re almost sold I can tell…ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesSo what are are options for DIY-ing yourself a pair of culottes. I love it when pattern companies take cues from what’s going on in the outside world because there are actually a whole bunch of good looking ready-made culotte patterns at our disposal. There’s culottes by Style ArcMegan Nielsen, Liels and Co.Burdastyle and Vogue, to name a few. Or you can just do what I did and ‘culottify’ any shorts pattern you know and love by extending the side seams. I chose the Tap Shorts by Katy and Laney, version ‘B’ with ‘deep pleats’, an invisible side zipper and welt pockets.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesFrom what I can remember of the instructions (I made these in January) they were great, no dramas! The method of inserting welt pockets was different from what I’ve done before but they actually turned out more precise and neater than any previous welt pockets. I’ll be going back to refer to it. If you’re wondering about sizing, I went by the measurements and made a size 6. There’s some very handy ‘finished garment measurements’ to go by for the waist and hip. I wish more patterns supplied this info; it takes some of the guess work out of getting a good fit. To ‘culottify’ the Tap Shorts, you extend the inner leg seam pretty much straight down and the side seam down and out at a slight angle.  Sounds obvious, right? Thanking Culotte Queen Lily Sage and Co. for this advice…extending two straight lines had fallen outside my realm of possible at the time.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesBeing in the middle of a major colour-block appreciation moment, I spied this mango coloured ‘Gamboge-orange’ stretch cotton and knew it was destined for culotte-dom. This fabric is possibly even more yummy and yolky in the flesh and the perfect bottom weight. But, I have to say, bright orange culottes was maybe one of those ideas that seem so great the time but then afterwards you’re not so sure. A friend described the finished pair as ‘retro’ and I went all meh on them. I don’t know…they’re just so ORANGE! And I poured SO much love into them. Like an insane amount of love. I actually did proper welt pockets, not fake ones. In a fit of culotte-fever I thought it would be fun to bind, with bias binding, every single inside seam. The insides are a work of art, I tell you. I also added in-seam side pockets. And lovingly installed a freakin invisible zipper INTO one of these in-seam side pockets (don’t ask me how, it was a feat of spatial thinking and intuitive sewing). And at the end of all that to be a bit hmmm about them, was a bit of a kick to the sew-jo.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY CulottesStill, I’m not done with culottes yet! I’ve just started thinking about cool weather sewing and culottes are definitely going to feature. Preferably with a fluffy sweater. So, what do you think…are you #teamculottes or still sitting on the fence? Admittedly, culottes are great for sitting on fences because you can’t flash and get to look cute at the same time. Something to think about while you’re gathering culotte-spiration and checking out Kirsty’s Pineapple Culottes because…pineapple…cullottes!


Give-away Winner

competition winnerThe winner of the Tessuti Alice Top pattern by random number (unfortunately I am technically inept and can’t seem to transport the little number generator to my posts – see Instagram for photographic evidence), is Erin from OppKnits. Congratulations Erin! Big thanks to y’all for entering. And yes, I do think your 80’s bed sheets, shibori-dyed cloth and precious hoarded liberty fabric would make a spectacular Alice top and should be actioned RIGHT NOW while the inspiration is fresh!


Alice Top + Give-away – Closed

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing|DIY Embellished Summer TopI know, I know! A second posted project in as many weeks. Cannot quite believe it myself but there you have it. Momentum is a beautiful thing. For you today, I’m so excited to share my version of the Alice Top (and dress), a recent pattern release from Tessuti, which you may have already seen gracing your Instagram feed recently, maybe yes? Firstly, I love love LOVE it. Second, it wasn’t part of any official sewing queue. It was a pure impulse saw-pattern-had-glorious-vision type project, which are the most fun and often turn out the best, don’t they? Something about freeing yourself from your own sewing shackles. Fly my pretty, fly! alice top favs re-edited-26I’ve been trying to remember what came first: the pattern or the inspiration. And I think it was one of those situations where you keep seeing a particular style around and then suddenly there’s a pattern released for it. In this case, a whole influx of tops with beautiful woven embellishments like this one and this one. To be honest, it’s not a style that I normally go for and I don’t want to put little Alice in a box but she definitely has the potential for some folksy, peasant-y, free-lovey vibes. Which, I am not opposed to, no no…just haven’t dipped my toe in the boho-pool yet.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing|DIY Embellished Summer TopIt all comes down to fabric selection anyway. And playing with fabrics is SO much fun here! The Alice top is divided into yoke, sleeve and bodice sections and could not be more perfect for using up small remnants of extra special fabrics. You know, the ones you only purchased a little of (because they wouldn’t take a trade for your first born) or you loved so much that there’s hardly any left but you’ve kept every last scrap anyway. Those fabrics that are crazy-embellished or heavily woven or embroidered and would make more of a statement in small doses. Hey, even those two cushions that you only recently purchased for your lounge…those would make a killer Alice top! ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing|DIY Embellished Summer TopYes, it’s true, I’m wearing cushion covers. Give it time, it’s going to be big. The rest of the top came from elsewhere too; I literally cut the gathered skirt straight off a silk/ cotton RTW dress. Which makes the whole thing re-fashioned, which makes me very happy. And not just because it appeals deeply to my smug environmentalist within. But also you would never guess to look at it! This is probably a good point to talk about fabric selection for the gathered part of your Alice top. I had originally bought some lightweight linen for the gathered bodice and washed it several times to try and soften it, but even so, the gathers would have been quite stiff. Because of the style of the top, you have the gathers sitting right on the fullest point of your bust. I’m open to extra bust volume, really, I am. But here, you’ve already got a loose boxy shape so you may want to consider a fabric that will gather softly and ‘flow’ ‘cascade’ and ‘shimmy’ down your front, instead of puff out. Silk / cotton voile good. Stiff starchy linen bad.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing|DIY Embellished Summer TopA word on sizing. After a bit of pre-sewing investigation, it seemed the general feeling was you could size down and still end up with a good fit. So, I measured the small, but made the extra small and the fit is perfect, still plenty of room under the arms, across the back etc. As per usual, with my previous makes from Tessuti patterns here and here, the instructions were great to follow and it sewed up beautifully. Actually, I was surprised by how quick it was overall. Okay, so maybe the lower half that I borrowed was already gathered and side-seamed and had this nice scooped high-low hem sewn for me. But still! The yoke and sleeve area are both lined and under-stitched and they seemed to sew up quickly too. EEEOh my! I almost forgot to touch on the Green-Sleeve vs White Sleeve debate. Not quite on par with the Gold & White or Blue & Black debate, but still. During the making I got stuck not knowing whether to continue the green fabric across onto the sleeves or sub in some white sleeves for contrast. I posted a picture on Instagram with one of each and asked my most trusted advisers, you lot, for advice. Your responses kept me entertained for hours. Some solid points were made too. Team white said it was more ‘classic’ and ‘balanced’. Team green said it was more ‘fashion’ and less ‘folksy’ and that white was more ‘little girly’. Team green was infinitely meaner. In the end, I went with green and love the contrast between this structured shoulder section and soft and flowy down below. So, thanks, you’re the best.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing|DIY Embellished Summer TopThe lovely ladies at Tessuti have offered up a hard-copy of the Alice pattern to give-away to one of you! Maybe you have some home furnishings that you’d like to hack up too? To enter, leave a comment and I’ll draw a winner by random number on Friday. Open world-wide.

© Ada Spragg. Design by The Darling Tree. Developed by Brandi Bernoskie.

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