Two-Piece Scuba Set // Ada Spragg + Britex

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba Set

Oh me oh my! So I knew late August to early September would be a cracker, what with the three patterns to sew in preparation for workshops at The Craft Sessions retreat + this final two-piece + a tutorial in conjunction with Britex Fabrics. What it was supposed to look like was pulling it off with grace and flare and my-not-previously-mentioned superpowers, in the two days per week that my littlest has kindy, all the while bringing you regular posts here. What it actually looked like, during that time, was one broken arm, courtesy of my littlest, emergency surgery and a hospital stay where I must have attracted some sinus thing, timed especially for my flight which resulted in a mass-pattern tracing right up until an hour before I left. Life stuff and lots of it. Whereas last year I pushed and pushed, this year I’m trying to practice the art of letting things go in the interests of self-love and its resulting good mental health. Which I guess makes me two weeks not-so-fashionably late to my own Two-Piece Set-Acular. Ugh. Thank you for waiting. AND for your two-piece sets, which I cannot wait to share. There’ll be a mass two-piece round-up hitting the blog soon, sooner than this set but I won’t set a date in case someone breaks a femur.

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetAda Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba Set

It’s hard to pick favourites with your hand-made closet, but this here, is my favourite make this year! One, it’s a two-piece, two, it’s made from SCUBA (amphibious makes are all the rage) and three, both Simplicity 1366 (top) and Vogue 9031 (skirt) just worked. This is my second go at Simplicity 1366 (previously sewn here) and first attempt at this freshly released Vogue pattern. Just from the pattern cover, I thought it had potential. Okay, I lie…I knew it was going to be AMAZING! Hellooo?!  This shape + my shape + this shape + scuba = heaVEN! It works in the other direction too, equally there are pattern covers I look at and know will be terrible on me. But this fitted through the hips, flared out below silhouette is really fun! Kind of like a hybrid pencil / A-line I think it creates the perfect balance between clingy and, well, not clingy. There are four side panels made up of quarter circle skirt pieces that lend themselves to fabrics with volume, like scuba or ponte. I love it so very much I’m now dreaming up a second version in some solid fuschia ponte from the stash and / or a leather version, since the pattern is actually designed for a woven and includes some tips for using leather.

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetA fun sew on both accounts and I want to stress the fun part because, if you’re like me and you harbour a lingering association between beautiful hand-makes and a certain amount of hard-labour / cussing, it’s always exciting to be proven wrong! What made these pieces both so fun were several things: firstly, scuba (or neoprene) is, quite literally, wetsuit material and a dream to sew with. It is stable and meaty (yes I did just say meaty) and orgasmic to cut into. Cannot tell you how good it felt to man-handle a fabric on the back of several flimsy fabric projects. And speaking of man-handling, the other perk is scuba loves the serger. Now I for one have never sewn an entire knit project on the serger.  Didn’t entirely trust the stitching would hold together. But with a fresh new serger to play around on ( a birthday up-grade) and being completely time poor I had a go…HALF AN HOUR, my friends, from start to finish. Even the skirt, which couldn’t be sewn on the serger alone (lots of seams to be left open), slapped together in half the cutting time.

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetAda Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba Set

Ahhhh the cutting time…deserving of it’s own paragraph! This beautiful intricate ‘Chinese Dragon and Lotus‘ print scuba was supplied by Britex for whatever I deemed suitable. A two-piece set…DER! What I didn’t pay attention to in the ‘ideas stage’ was the perfectly symmetrical nature of the print. If we include the time spent staring at the fabric and nudging pattern pieces around on it with my toes, in the cutting time then it took 12 hours. I got so frustrated the first night I tried to cut, I had to walk away, watch some consolation Sex And The City and return to it in the morning. Which turned out to be the best call ever! Okay so the cutting time turned out to be three hours and the challenge was not only getting individual pattern pieces to match their opposite but trying to get a total of five top pieces and twelve skirt pattern pieces out of  one full repeat and two 3/4 repeats of the design. The only way I could make sure things were symmetrical was to lay the fabric out flat (as opposed to doubled over) and cut each piece separately. For pieces marked ‘on the fold’ this meant, cutting one half, flipping the pattern piece over and matching up points in the design before cutting the other half….hence the three hours!
Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetOne of the other nice things about scuba is you can be really lazy with hemming. You know, make your unfinished hems a design feature! Vogue 9031 calls for the hem to be left raw. Considering the pattern is meant for wovens, I thought this was a curious “”feauture””, what with fraying and longevity and all. But for now I think the unfinished hem looks pretty appropriate with the Scuba although I may take to it with a coverstitch eventually. There are so many things to love about this pattern: the front and back are made up of intersecting pieces, which make for a super sweet feature and flattering lines. The waistband has a schmick facing finish, which I lurve! Size: I made my usual Vogue size, a 12. Mods: The 12 was good, but I ended up taking it in at side seams from waist to hips. Sew-tricky: At the risk of sounding totally masochistic I loved the challenge of getting those corner semi-perfectly square, where the side panels meet the front and back. The first one was great, the second was a little dodge, but by the fourth one I was sad there weren’t any more. You can see at the front the fabric is pulling across this area a bit which I’m sure is to do with using a stretch here.

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetAda Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetSimplicity 1366 is a great pattern on its own, but I wanted to modify a few things to make it more like a super comfy RTW boxy crop I have. I took the shoulders in a fraction, shortened the sleeves, raised and scooped the neck and added a binding / ribbing. Because it’s a knit, it didn’t need any sort of closure but I thought an exposed zipper would make a banging feature on both the top and the skirt. I started with the skirt, and followed this tutorial up to a point, which covers inserting an exposed zipper when there is a seam running through the middle. For the top, to insert an expose zipper, literally in the middle of no-where, I had a play around and am so very proud to come up with this working tutorial for inserting an exposed zipper into scuba. Maybe the Sewing Greats would cringe at my errr ‘technique’ but hey it’s simple to follow and the result is pretty darn fine.

Ada Spragg // Not Your Nanna's Sewing // DIY Two-Piece Scuba SetSo there it is, the last of the two-pieces! It’s been fun. If you’re thinking about dabbling in some scuba sewing of your own then you should jump in! I’ve been collecting scuba sewing inspiration here and have included some links to Scuba fabric resources too.


Makers In The Wild // A Weekly Round-Up

INTRO-pic makers9This week had me frothing at the mouth! And not due to cake over-indulgence but the explosion of inspiring makes coming from our little corner of the interwebs. It was another print-happy week in the sewing blogosphere, starting with 1// this gorgeous Eucalypt tank by B.Yazoo! I may, just may, have a couple of yards of this poly crepe de chine on its way, by pure co-incidence, I assure! 2// Working out never looked so good. Could not love Mokosha’s  two-piece floral short and crop set more! Surely, wearing florals while you work out would take at least some of the pain out of it. 3// LOVING Megan’s latest version of her own pattern, the Eucalypt Dress. Something about that fabric with that exposed zipper = pure pretty. The rest of Megan’s face is also lovely by the way…her cropping not mine! 4// A solid! Katie’s made herself not one but three pairs of cute and practical pleated pants. That’s commitment right there. And she has a super handy tip for repairing broken zippers, good to remember next time you want to rip the whole thing out in a rage, as some people like to do. But not me. Definitely not me…


…hand-made loveliness around the globe…


DIY Birthday Dress + Furry Bonus

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressJust so you know, you’re in the presence of a ‘big deal’ dress here. Possibly even bigger deal than my actual birthday and being a Leo and all, that’s kind of a big deal. But I’m a chivalrous beast at heart, so I will step aside and let the dress sing…’It’s my partyyyy, I’ll DIY if I wannnnt tooo’. I’m sorry, it has terrible taste in music. Grab your maracas…this here is my first official hand-made birthday outfit in the history of ever! Momentous on it’s own, but  now I feel I’ve arrived at some kind of winners circle where the seasoned Birthday Dress Makers reside…

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressWhich is cause for celebration! I mean Birthday outfits are a pretty important business. And maybe I chose the wrong outfit, maybe it was a bad astro crossing but last year I had a definite case of the birthday blues and if you’ve ever felt sub-par on your birthday, you’d know that it is truly suckfull. So this birthday, 28 by the way, was gonna be fabulous! It HAD to be fabulous! For a few years now I’ve been observing this really lovely tradition amongst the sewing community of DIY-ing your own birthday outfit. And each year I’ve toyed with the idea and each time gone the ready-to-wear option. Unlike sewing a swimsuit or jeans or lingerie, making a birthday-worthy outfit is a sewing milestone I didn’t even know I had. But when you voluntarily choose a hand-made option over something store-bought for your big day, it’s a big f$%*ing fabulous deal!

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressLike all good birthday frocks, this one has a story. A tale of sewing triumph! But first, the deets. The fabric: a swimsuit lycra by one of my fav Aussie swimwear / fashion labels Zimmerman, and pretty much the only way I now have a piece of ‘Zimmerman’ hanging in my closet. The Fabric Store ended up with a few end-of-rolls of their swimwear fabric this year and I picked up a couple of special pieces, as you do when you unearth a trove of amazing lycra knits, but got slightly more of this one, with no particular plans in mind. Update: This fabric can also be found online at Tessuti right here! The pattern: Burdastyle Gathered Dress. Aka, my favourite broad-shouldered girl’s neckline and pencil silhouette in one pattern. With the addition of just a few harmless gathers, not so different from a Bombshell, right? RIGHT?!
ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressErrmm, not quite. This is probably the part where I tell you that this is actually my second attempt at this pattern. It may have something to do with the 60 pattern pieces you need to tape together. Wait, did you say SIXTY?!!!!! The first time I printed it out,  over a year ago, I thought I must have made some mistake and printed it twice. Nuh-uhhh girlfraand, those sixty pages are all very much meant to be there and they’re waiting for you with your kinder scissors, sticky tape and sad face. And it may have had something to do with the 15 pattern pieces (that’s before you cut two of most), within those 60 pages, half of which are for the main fabric and half of which are for the lining. I’m sorry, did you say LINING?! Isn’t this a knit dress?! I didn’t sign up for lining. Next you’ll probably tell me it has DARTS! Oh, I see, it has darts. And it may also have something to do with the picture-less instructions, which is standard for Burdastyle, but all of which meant that last year I got as far as taping the 60 pages together. As for the “”instructions””, I could not even begin to get my head around WHY there were two layers of fabric, let alone how they merged together into one dress and what was all this talk of draping?! I actually wondered if maybe the pattern included two separate dresses and one of them was the one I was supposed to make. All in all, a total head you-know-what. So I did the thing that annoyed me almost as much as the pattern itself: I gave up. And donated the 60 pages, to Archie’s paper aeroplane factory.

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressSo, if you’re wondering what was so different the second time around, this is the truly exciting part. A year on, and obviously in a different sewing head space altogether, the thing that got me started again and past the taping stage was this glorious vision of that pattern with this fabric. I could not let it go to the point that I was just like ‘NO! This is going to work DAMMIT!’. Between this dress and these pants it has felt like a huge sewing confidence boosting month. Call it determination, stubbornness, whatever; a pain in the ass in everyone else but an absolute asset in the sewing room. And just personally, I think that sewists makes for better lovers: when you’ve just conquered a pattern the size of the Serengeti and ended up with a svelte hand-made birthday dress, you don’t need someone else to tell you how great you are. You KNOW how great you are! You just became your own hero. Which sounds lame as I type it now but pretty sure it’s healthy. Sewing = life skills!

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressDramatics aside, the instructions were o.k. and the construction was complicated but interesting. I eventually figured out that you have two dresses worth of fabric for a reason. The whole dress is made up of triangular pieces, which are gathered in different sections. Every gathered outside piece has a corresponding lining piece and the job of the lining layer is to sit flat against your skin (hence the darts, though I’m still not convinced they were necessary) and act as a base for the draping outside layer. So before you sew the triangles together into something resembling a dress, first you have to gather every individual outside piece to a particular length, which would then match perfectly in size with it’s lining piece, and you sew them together. Each little bit that worked out gave me confidence to move onto the next section!

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressThis is the first time I’ve made what Burdastyle categorize as a ‘tall’ pattern. Just looked it up and all it means is it’s drafted for a height of 176cm (69 1/4″) and up. I’m about 174cm, so it’s a pretty good length but could easily be shortened too. I cut a size 76, then deviated a little from the rules after that. The pattern requires you to add seam allowances but after comparing the width of the pieces to the width of my finished Nettie bodysuits (awaiting blogging) I made a judgement call and decided to only add seam allowances to the top and bottom edges of the pieces, therefore adding height but not width. A gamble that totally paid off…the fit is so good its not funny.  ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered Dress ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressTechnically this dress is also a swimsuit! I used swimsuit lining for the inside layer as it was really the thinnest fabric I could think of that would still make this dress wearable in Queensland spring / summers. I really like the original winter version on the pattern cover and was going to keep the long sleeves, until I realised it’s wearability would be reduced to about 2 months of the year. Instead I traced these little half-cap sleeves of a favourite t-shirt of mine and just love them! I think as miniscule as they are, they create more width at the shoulders which adds more to the illusion of curves. One thing to note, is the original sleeves on the pattern, are extra long, about 20cm, and they’re also kind of poofy at the top, which you may like but I was not in love with. If I was going to make a long sleeve version I’d be pinching the sleeves of the Nettie bodysuit or similar. I was really impressed that the pattern included a facing for the back neckline. Well, you had to draft it yourself, but it was just a rectangle, folded into a smaller tube and sewn in. It made the whole area super neat and pretty and possibly more so after I got to COVERSTITCH it in place, thanks to the  lovely Lizzy lending me her baby for the weekend. Oh and while we’re checking out the insides, help yourself to a laugh at my one-up one-down darts. You’re welcome!

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressAs you can see, things were going pretty swell. And then the Birthday Cat arrived…

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressAnd I was all like ‘awwww’. And he was like ‘should have taken a left back at the park’.

ADA SPRAGG // DIY Birthday Dress - Burdastyle Gathered DressStill we bonded real good and at the risk of being banished from the entire sewing blogging community forever more…I’m not even a cat person! More a chicken person. Not sure what that says about me. But the rules say if the Birthday Cat comes to visit, you will get three birthday wishes. But first you must rub his belly! And because I can’t tell you what they are, I will just say that one of them sounds like Maybe Sock…

So how about you: would you consider sewing / have you ever sewn yourself a special outfit?


DIY Pleated Silk Pants // Ada Spragg + Britex Fabrics

Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants I’m a leetle bit excited to announce Ada Spragg will now be collaborating with Britex Fabrics which means from time to time, I’ll be guest posting alongside a whole bunch of talented sewista’s. This week, I shared a pure-inspiration post to DIY yourself a pair of gourmet pleated silk pants. And hopefully to take some of the fear out of sewing silk, especially the ones with bad reputations, like silk charmeuse. As this is a sponsored post, Britex provided this jaw-droppingly beautiful ‘gleaming emerald green silk charmeuse‘ from their selection of silk solid fabrics (now on sale). I’ve been wanting to sew a pair of pants like this, with pleated details and a tapered leg forever. When Style Arc recently released the Antoinette pants pattern complete with pleats, hidden pockets, invisible back zipper and that elongating leg, I knew it was the one!Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Let’s talk about Silk-o-Phobia, because it’s out there and it’s real. Having never sewn silk charmeuse before, I was quietly fretting about the fact that my first attempt was going to be a pair of pants with pleats & zippers & facings (go hard or go home, right?!). Would the silk be slippery and hard to pin and sew? Would it like being pressed into pleats and folds? How would silk charmeuse handle an invisible zipper? How would I handle silk charmeuse if it didn’t handle invisible zipper? All questions you might be asking yourself too before sewing with silk. Well, I’m pleased to report, without any special silk-handling talents, we made it. First of all, the silk charmeuse was a lot easier to manoeuvre than I expected. I imagined it would have the weight of a silk satin, but it’s super light weight and quite delicate. Being silky like satin on the right side, I thought it be would slippery and awful to work with but it pinned, sewed and pressed totally fine.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants The only issue I ran into was with the easiest part of the garment: the leg side seams. I was like after I sewed them (with a fine needle and regular straight stitch in case you’re wondering) the seams were quite tight, almost puckering. I’m still not entirely sure what the problem was. Maybe because I was using a generous 6/8″ french seam (instead of suggested 3/8″ allowance) in attempt to get a closer fit since they were slightly too big after the first try-on. And because of the shape of the leg pattern pieces, which lie diagonally on the fabric (not quite on the bias) it may have changed the fit and shape of the leg pieces slightly. Hmm, not suresies but it’s not a biggie, I pressed and stretched the seams, and pressed again which released some of this extra tension.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Being silk charmeuse, I had a hunch that the only way it and the invisible zipper were going to get along was the area had some extra reinforcement. I cut two narrow strips of fusible interfacing and added them to the seam allowance where the zipper was inserted, which worked beautifully and is a good tip to remember. As for the fit, well I mentioned I tried to take them in a little by eating up extra fabric from the side seams with french seams. I measured a size 10 and bought the size 10…Style Arc only sell individual sizes, which you pay the same price for as you would for a pattern with all sizes included. Make of it what you will but if you were to get into the habit of ordering the wrong size pattern as I did once or twice, then it starts to add up. Style Arc were totally accommodating and sent me the correct size on one of these occasions, even though the mistake was on my part (when the sizing gamble goes bad) but the other time I was just too embarrassed and copped another round of pattern and postage $. So, where all this is going is, the 10 is a fraction too roomy but I have a feeling the 8 would be too small. They’re meant to sit on the waist, but even after my strategic French seaming, they’ve ended up sitting just below waist. However, the crotch depth and leg length are spot-on so I don’t think I’d dare order the 8, but next time would have to take them in further.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Construction wise, I just shut my eyes and plunged into the pleated section, which is made up of not one but TWO pleats: an inverted pleat and a knife pleat. A who-da-what pleat? Yep, my thoughts exactly. But Style Arc very kindly added a couple of extra diagrams to the (normally sparse) instructions this time, which made it all very user friendly and quite pain free. To mark the pleats in the charmeuse, I stabilised the area with extra pins which helped the fabric stay on grain. It probably would have been easier had I not been using broken off chunks of tailors chalk but my chalk pencil wasn’t leaving a strong enough mark. I ended up squinting hard at the pattern illustration to see if the main knife pleat was meant to be pressed in place or just left to drape. The markings on the pattern are kind of like a huge dart which would have indicated that you would press. I tried it with one side and it looked kind of fugly so I smooshed (technical term) it back flat and left the other side alone.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants- binding detailsTo honour this dreamboat fabric and give it the royal treatment it deserves, I knew it needed to have as good looking innards as the outside. French seams are one of those techniques I used to avoid like the plague but Jen’s tutorial took all the fear out and now I use them whenever possible. Yes, they absolutely do take longer but if you’ve got a fabric that’s co-operating, they are actually fun / satisfying and worth the extra time for super lush finish on special projects.I also relish being able to sew a whole garment up on one machine for a change! Along the same ilk, I finished the seams of the pockets and waist-band with some self-made bias binding, another simple technique that can add that special something to your hand-makes.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants I loved this pattern so much, it’s now back in the queue to sew up in a print (hello you pretty ikat silk, you) or another solid for everyday wear, which trust me, is not as glamorous as these pants would have you believe. Overall, they’re not perfect but I am immensely proud of them as a first attempt at charmeuse and pleated pants!


Esther Shorts Give-Away Winner!


Image via Tessuti

Big thanks to everyone for entering the Esther Shorts pattern giveaway! The winner was generated with Ronnie the Random Number Generator but alas getting the doovey box to appear on this page seems to be beyond my little brain tonight…the lucky number was 35… congratulations to Juliette Lanvers who had vanilla cake with strawberries for breakfast…clearly winning at life!

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