Happy New Year and a Galaxy Dress

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressWell hi! Did the new year begin already? Its been a sluggish start and I admit I have a huge backlog of hand-made lovelies to share, starting with this one, a second Vogue 8280, my beloved, aka the Roland Mouret Galaxy Dress in a particularly galactic looking fabric. I can say straight up, that this project was a queue-spiter (aren’t all the best projects?!). I was part way through my first attempt at sewing a capsule wardrobe, for last Spring, which had started giving me the shits when I realised I’d bitten off way more than I could actually sew in a season. If there is one thing I do well it’s setting the bar un-reasonably high and getting upset when I can’t meet said expectations. Still, the Spring Wardrobe wasn’t a complete failure, I got about half of the things sewn, which I will share over the coming weeks. And I did also learn a lot about how I want sew and how much I can realistically produce in a season without the sew-jo taking a beating. It is not twelve items in three months, not it is not. More on this soon.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressNow, the story of this fabulous frock is a great one! Sometime last Spring, I received a very lovely and random email from a woman in Australia, announcing she had set up an online store, Designer Fabrics Australia, to sell off her stash of beautiful gourmet fabrics acquired from around the world and could I please help her get the word out to the people of sew-landia! But of course. The timing really couldn’t have been more perfect with the Brisbane edition of sewing get-together, Frocktails, coming up and the fact that I was desperately needing a sewing pep-up in the face of Perceived Spring Wardrobe Failure. As all the best relationships start, Liz sent me some fabric and I vowed to love and hold it forever more / make it into something spectacular. Which was not hard considering it’s freaking intergalactic, geometric SCUBA! Because of the nature of selling ones stash, the pieces listed at Designer Fabrics Australia are mostly once-off cuts, with enough meterage to make a garment but no more once its gone, so if you see something you like you have to pounce. Alas, there is no more of this particular fabric but there are new pretties listed weekly by designers such as Anna Sui, Oscar De La Renta, Isabel Marant and friends.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressScuba, aka, Neoprene, faux wetsuit material is pretty exciting stuff to sew with. It’s thick, but not too thick, stable and co-operative (I feel like a dirty one-liner belongs here but I’m all out of sass today) much like a ponte knit. If you want to know more, I preached its joys with my previous scuba project here. And I knowwwww its a novelty and probably one of those trends we’re all going to look back and laugh at in the next few years still I have not had my scuba fill, it really is so fun to play with. Quite a few online fabric stores are stocking scuba, like Emma One Sock and Britex Fabrics among others. The thing I love is that it holds it shape perfectly and makes for super plumped up pleated sleeves like these ones. Volume Baby!

ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressThe most exciting bit of all was getting to tap into my SEWERS INTUITION!My first Vogue 8280, I followed the instructions religiously as I tend to do with most things because I get scared to go off the path. But because I was feeling wild and unchained and using a stretch fabric I figured I would just size down to a 10, remove all the darts, join the bodice and the skirt, leave out a lining and eliminate a zipper. And tie it up with a bow, honey. It was all ‘I’ll just tape this here, pinch that out there, see if this will join up here’ and so so rough. I felt like I was on a reality sewing show. Will she make it? Will it work? There’s just so much potential for things to go wrong when you’re doing a hack-job. The whole time I felt like I was following the quiet guidance of that little inner sewing guru, the one who chimes in at helpful times with things like: ‘ Girl, do you REALLY want to place that uterus shaped print right THERE?’.
ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy DressWithout a lining, the whole construction changed and the instructions became even more useless than they were to start with, although they were absolutely necessary for the sleeves, which have a little contraption underneath for extra puffed-up-ness. My first Vogue 8280 took the good part of a week. Condensed, it would still have been a day or two worth of sewing. Sub in scuba and it sewed up in an afternoon and a night and mostly on the overlocker. I then switched over to the coverstitch for the hem, sleeves and backline, which sped things up again. Anyway, suffice to say, there are days when you become your own sewing legend!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Scuba Galaxy Dress

Photography By Daniel Maddock



IMG_1657If you happen to follow my Instagram feed, then you’ll probably have noticed it’s all about the planning over here! The sewing planning that is. For me, the planning is almost as much fun as the actual making. I relish the whole process and it is indeed, turning into a process. Not to say I don’t enjoy adding to the hand-made closet piece by piece, but I love love LOVE the idea of churning out a little mini collection each season, just for fun! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long, after the original inspiration of seeing Jen’s seasonal wardrobes start out in illustration form and come to life over a few months. I attempted a seasonal wardrobe this winter. I made plans, I had sketches, I had swatches. And by the time my winter wardrobe was finalised…it was Spring! Ahem, so, this seasonal sewing thing is rather tricky I’ve decided. Seasonal Sewing Confusion Disorder (SSCD) is what’s it is. Being out of sync with the Northern Hemisphere, I feel like it’s this battle between sewing for the season I’m in or sewing along with the opposite seasons. Where I live, in sunny Queensland, Australia, the seasons looks like this: 9 months of warm weather, three months of “”winter””, I use the term loosely. Right now it’s Spring, so I figure I’ll just sew for Spring / Summer up until late Jan / Feb and then start the cool weather sewing after that in Autumn. For this Spring, I’ve come up with 6 outfits: 12 pieces in total. Which sounds like a lot but it will be spread over a few months, so I’m aiming to sew and blog two outfits or 2-4 pieces a month. Allowing some lee-way here in case of dem curved balls.

The idea of actually sticking to sewing plans and following them through is a new thing; there’s nothing so fun as spiting your own queue to sew something not in the queue! I thought maybe I’d feel restricted, or ‘locked in’ by these plans but quite the opposite. I’m very very excited to be approaching this bunch of hand-mades with a whole new way of thinking (who knew sewing could be so deep). As a statement piece kind of sewer at heart, I live for the thrill of sewing something unique and spectacular. But I also not so secretly admire and covet the hand-made closets of fellow sewing bloggers with their more sensible, thought out and very wearable items! So, for my DIY Spring Closet, instead of going on autopilot, I’ve been thinking about what I could sew that would build on what is already in the closet. Who are you and what have you done with Sophie?! What it looks like is reigning in the statement pieces and boosting up the solids (solids being as close to staple pieces as we’re ever going to get here). Out of 12 pieces, 6 are prints and 6 are solids which feels as unnatural as a machine needle through the fingernail, but we’re going with it. Without further ado…


First up, two soliddddds! So, this stretch cotton twill was always going to be a bottom half piece. I was thinking shorts initially, but then it got fashioned it into a pencil skirt in front of the mirror and…phwoar! For a pattern, I’ll probably return to the Burdastyle Jenny skirt but add a good 3 inches so it hits below the knee. I especially love the silhouette of a fitted skirt with a billowy tee or tank and so I’ve been longing to make a simple singlet out of this beautiful cobalt sand-wash silk. As for a pattern, still undecided. I love the dartless-ness of the Wiksten tank but I’m imagining narrower straps and less flare at the hem, so it can be tucked into said skirt. Possibly the Eucalypt tank? Taking suggestions…

This fuschia Silk CDC was always going to be top half! This is my color. MINE, I tell you! It makes me look alive. Plus it goes with many other bottoms in my closet. So I’m feeling the pressure here to pick the perfect pattern. And I think I’d like to make a top similar to this one. As for the pattern, a dartless version of view B could be close but the collar needs to be shorter and higher and I’m not entirely sure about importing a collar from elsewhere. Maybe there is another pattern out there that would be closer straight from the pattern? Eeeeee, the skirt! So excited for this one. I used some of my Project Sewn winnings to purchase a couple of hides of this olive green, super svelte lamb leather. It smells funny, but it’s lover-ly. And because I love this skirt, Vogue 9031, so much, I’m making a leather version! Again, going for the fitted skirt + billowy top half…

Untitled-4CULOTTES! CULOTTES! CULOTTES! Okay, it’s on. The Culotta-thon. I had a great pair of Culottes once, when I was 18. They were bright aqua, stretch denim and they fitted perfectly through the butt and hips before flaring out below. Where are they now? I do not know. But what I firmly believe is if you’re going to embrace this Culotte trend and you don’t want to join the ranks of the poofy puffy pants brigade, then they need to be fitted through the hips and waist. You’ve already got all this extra volume in the lower leg, do you really want to be adding extra volume through the tummy / hips with pleats and other festivities? I don’t! You saw how these pants turned out. Now imagine them with even more volume down below. So no, the style of culotte I am going for is this, this and this. Made up in this crazy grid print linen! As for a pattern, I’ve got about 5 or 6 vintage culotte patterns from the 70’s sitting in my Etsy cart and they all kind of nail that fitted-through-the-hips, flare-out-below thing. Okay, I’m not going to lie…my entire inspiration for this outfit is this silhouette here. It’s so fun and so fresh and I wants it. So, for the top we’re going sheer!  I’m thinking the Kanerva button back shirt. Yes, it’s entirely a novelty outfit but I have a vision and I’m a slave to it!
Untitled-5Now I think about it, it was pretty cute to assume I’d be done with matching sets just because Two-Piece Set month had finished, wasn’t it?! But how could I stop? Not after I happened upon possibly my favourite fabric find ever…the exact eye fabric from this Moschino dress. It was totally random, of course, on Etsy. I was looking for printed denim. And even more random because I’ve pinned this dress and this skirt so many times, each occasion thinking how amazing the fabric was, wonder if there was any left in the world, anywhere? Mwahahaa! So, I have 5 yards and my inspiration is THIS amazing two-piece. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to which patterns to use here, since I want to be able to wear them as separates, or possibly together, thought not sure where. School drop-off? For the top, I’m knocking off a RTW top, with spaghetti straps, a slightly flared hem and no darts. I’ve copied it once before and it’s a super flattering shape that I wear all the time.  Although I have my heart set on culottes for the bottoms, I wonder if the closet will reach culotte-saturation and I’m also not sure how they would look in something flimsy and silky. Maybe like pyjamas? Other ideas were some kind of crazy pleated skirt like the Anne-Marie pattern or even a draped pencil skirt. Would love to hear your thoughts, speak now…the top half is done!

Untitled-3This boxy crop + full midi skirt silhouette is a new one for me. I keep seeing it everywhere and there’s just something about it! It’s so feminine without being toit and looks killer with some statement heels, see here! So, for the top, I’m cutting into this heavily woven cotton and either going to make another modified version of Simplicity 1366 or try something new. For the skirt, I’m thinking the Lumme by Named patterns. The sateen is quite thin, so I’ll probably back it in something to enhance the color and avoid flashing.

MORE Culottes! And yes, the color in the sketch is a very inaccurate representation of the actual fabric. So, this khaki stretch cotton, was the very last addition to this little collection. I actually bought it several years ago, originally to make a Minoro Jacket. But when I held it up to the mirror one fateful evening, wrapped it around like a giant 90’s maxi skirt and pulled it through the middle to look like pants, it actually turned into the most awesome pair of structured culottes ever! And so it was decided. I’m actually thinking for this pair, I may start with the Katy and Laney Tap Shorts as a base and make use of those ever-so subtle diagonal lines. This little cropped jacket I am royally excited about. I’ve got a few inspiration picks collated here on my Spring /Summer Sew board, but in particular this pretty one! I’ve been wanting to make up the Bernadette cropped jacket for so long, just waiting for the right fabric. And then I found this amazing embroidered FLEURO (my camera does not do fleuro), TRIBAL cotton at Spotlight, of all places! Now I’m trying to source some fleuro piping or fabric to make into piping. Either that or metallic silver. Gah! So many decisions.


What are you sewing this Spring / Autumn?


Sewtionary Give-away Winner


Thanks for entering! And sharing your sewing fears. It seems our common sewing nemisis’s are button holes, zippers and welt pockets! My least favourite is button holes I have to say, because even though my machine should handle them just fine, sometimes it chooses not to. So yes, destroying something in pretty much the final step before you finish is why I don’t love them so much. Okay! So the winner of The Sewtionary Giveaway, by random number generator was no.1. Congratulations Nicole from coledabbles.blogspot.com.au!


Sewtionary Tour + Giveaway – closed

U7397_500px_72dpiThe second last stop on the Sewtionary tour is here today! Which means another chance to win your very own hardcopy of this beautiful new sewing book on the block. For nearly the whole month, Tasia from Sewaholic, has been celebrating the release of the Sewtionary. The name of the book gives it all away really: inside you will find an A-Z  ‘from “Applique” to “Zippers” and everything in between!’.

1I have a very modest collection, more a huddle, of sewing books that I refer to from time to time to refresh on basic techniques. But in between, I’m still always ‘google-ing’ for things like ‘welt pockets’, ‘zipper fly tutorials’ ‘how to sew spaghetti straps’ etc. So I’m a little bit excited that the Sewtionary includes all of these plus many more skills I’ve been wanting to try or at least know the proper way to do something. This book has all the answers to basic sewing questions like ‘how to make your own piping’ to the more obscure like ‘what is horse hair, and why the heeeeeel would I be sewing it into a garment?!’.

2So yes, I am super impressed with the Sewtionary and a little jealous that this copy is leaving my hands but happy it’s going to one of you lucky ladies! If you’d like a chance to win the Sewtionary, leave a comment, maybe sharing your most feared sewing technique (you’ve been avoiding button holes for years, right?!) and the winner will be drawn on Sunday. You can find the rest of the tour details here.


DIY Leggings + Wrap-front Blouse

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY Leggings There’s nothing, I’ve decided, quite so annoying as being restricted in some way by the clothes you are wearing. Whether they be too tight, too short, too good or too silky, it’s all bad. Now, if you’ve been here for the ride thus far you may have noticed I have a small penchant for silky things, specifically, silks. But here’s the thing…many of my most favourite silk items hang, rarely worn, in near-mint condition in my closet. Which is a bit sad considering how much time and love got poured into them. I would like to wear them on a daily basis if it weren’t for fear of small people grime and the fact that I could still probably do with a bib when eating sometimes. When I petitioned (mostly against myself) to sew more ‘fiercely attractive mum-friendly clothes‘ this year, I didn’t know what that would look like. But I knew what was needed were things I could throw on, go about the day’s mostly un-glamorous activities, all the while looking put together, or at least like I’d changed out of pyjamas. Finally, with this legging and blouse combo, I feel I have arrived! At a craggy isthmus somewhere between BabeTown and MumTown.

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsIn hopes of reigning in the silk-monger within, I’ve been looking out for some happy replacement for silk; something drapey and nice against the skin, without the omg-dishwater-on-my (insert most-beloved item) factor. Step in Viscose, Rayon and whatever else is in this glorious man made fibre! I saw it, petted it, decided it was the softest, most buttery SOLID I ever laid eyes on and stowed it away for a worthy project…something like the wrap-style Dotty Blouse by Style Arc. You may have seen this deep cross-over silhouette doing the rounds, see here and here. I saw it, loved it and before I knew what was happening, the pattern was making it’s way to my house. McCalls have put out a similar blouse and Burdastyle released this cute variation but it was the line drawing of the Dotty that sold me.
ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsSo much to love here! A double yoke, gathered back, good butt coverage and a cleverly designed front with the wrap section cut as one whole piece. The instructions imply you can sew a double yoke in your sleep and with my experience of double yokes being mostly of the breakfast variety, I decided to seek help. I followed this tutorial on the Style Arc site, up to the point where it became obvious that attaching a double yoke in a normal scenario, where the shirt front has two pieces (like a normal button up) is one thing. Attaching a yoke for a shirt where the front is made of one long joined piece of fabric, is something else all together. Also, the tutorial makes sense for a shirt that would eventually have a collar attached, in which case it is no problema to leave the neckline raw. But for the collar-less Dotty blouse, I realised that the neckline would have to be sewn shut at some stage in the yoke attaching otherwise it be left raw foreverrrr! To be honest I don’t really remember how it did it and wish I took better notes on the process but just know, it’s possible. Your double yoke will be okay. It will, however, take some manoeuvering that I cannot explain without wild hand gestures.

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsThis is actually my second version of the Dotty Blouse. I thought I should probably muslin it (see! I can be a responsible) before cutting into this fabric. The pattern recommends silk, crepe or a jersey knit. After muslin-ing it in a feather-weight cotton voile, I learned that lightweight and good drape are not one and the same. The recommendation for jersey knit should have been the give away that whatever fabric you choose, it has to hang-well (not the same as well-hung). In fact I don’t think it mentions light-weight anywhere. No it does not. I made that up. But having now sewn the Dotty up in something lightweight with no drape and something with lots of drape, the drapier fabric produced a front section that cascades instead of puffs out and an all round nicer looking top.

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsThe sleeves are my favourite! The instructions are to gather them into narrow bands and left long. But I liked rolled up sleeves. I like their utilitarianism. Especially on a top with so much party in the front. Plus I thought that the addition of sleeve tabs could take this top some place special. So, after asking the deep questions about sleeves, I omitted the sleeve band, sewed a straight hem and ‘borrowed’ the sleeve tabs from another pattern. For the buttons, I covered some regular flat shirt buttons using a great little technique I learned here. I much prefer their compactness over the clunky store bought self cover buttons.
ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsNow seems a good time to address the pink elephant in the room: how is that front section staying shut?! Well, it’s not really and even standing relatively still on a not windy day, my photographer copped a few eyefulls. So, short of wearing a velcro bra, I’ll have to go back at attach a press stud, which I was trying to avoid but is what the pattern suggests anyway.  I should also point out that even with the double yoke fussing, it was possible to French seam the whole thing, which makes this one of my most meticulous and most un-hand-made looking pieces yet. Save for a few dodgy bits sewing the curved hem…
ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsShort and sweet for all involved, DIY leggings are the ultimate quickie project! These here were my demo pair for the Leggings Workshop I taught at the recent The Craft Sessions weekend. I chose leggings because they’re beginner friendly when you’re starting out with knit sewing and instantly satisfying. At the start of the workshop, I told the ladies they’d laugh once they realised how straightforward leggings are: one pattern piece + 4-way stretch fabric + a ball point needle + stretch stitch = DIY legging fabulousness. Anyway, they all produced beautiful leggings (some I wanted to snatch for myself) and left with new sewing confidence!

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY LeggingsNow that leggings season is coming to an end here, these are finally making it to the blog. The fabric is swimwear lycra from here, which I really don’t mind against my skin. My favourite sources for leggings fabric are Tessuti Fabrics, Wanderlust Fabrics, Girl Charlee and random Etsy shop, Fabulace. I used the same Burdastyle pattern as this pair (now retired to pjs), which I love for the extra length in the legs and torso.

ADA SPRAGG // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // Style Arc Dotty Blouse + DIY Leggings(good butt coverage)

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