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




Post-12What if what you want to sew and what you want to wear are not the same thing? From time to time you may have heard me wine about the un-wearability of my hand-made wardrobe in it’s current state. While simultaneously working on a two-piece-set made from fabric printed with eyes. Maybe it’s the change in season, maybe it’s sheer coincidence that I started reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up right at the start of Me Made May. But something has shifted, deep in my waters. If I look back over my sewing journey of the past few years and summarise my general approach it would be: AUTOPILOT. I sew what I want, when I want. I’ve happily been a slave to every creative vision and whim that’s popped into my head! That’s half the fun, right? Bringing forth an idea from your imagination for a piece or an outfit in a combination of fabrics that has never existed before you. Exercising that creative muscle (which only gets stronger ) while visualising the outfit-to-be  right down to the details and the finishes…and then transforming a piece of fabric into that vision…pure magic, voodoo, witch craft right there!


So perhaps my style has had some growing up to do. Or maybe it’s coming into winter and suddenly being aware of the serious lack of comfy, cosy, basics in my closet. Either way, there’s a change in the air. I’m always admiring fellow sewists (Katie, Beth, Elena to name a few) and bloggers who’s hand-made wardrobes just work together as a whole. I imagine them opening up their closet every morning and being greeted by a whole bunch of old friends, clothes you know you love to WEAR, clothes you’ve made, specifically for the purpose of WEARING. From patterns you’ve gone back to one, two and three times because they just work for you, for your shape, for your lifestyle. My wardrobe on the otherhand, is like the diet of a teenager who’s parents have gone away for a naughty weekend. Here’s an admission: there are hand-made clothes hanging in my closet, that I know I don’t wear but I keep there because they look nice hanging next to the piece beside it…endlessly curating. I blame Pinterest.Post-3And where does Japanese de-cluttering expert, Marie Kondo and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up fit into all this. Well, it’s just a book and it’s not just a book. The whole premise is to go through your entire house and possessions with the view to clearing up your physical space which in turn filters down clears ‘space’ in all other realms of your life, emotional and physical. It really is magic! You go through specific categories of possessions one at a time, starting with clothes, holding each piece in your hand and asking: ‘does this spark JOY’? Sounds ludicrously simple! Except as expected I came to a my own personal crux… the beloved hand-made clothes. What do you do with hand-made items that don’t spark joy? Can you / should you part with them / donate them? I think I know Miss Kondo’s answer. Previously I’ve been stowing my loved-slightly-less hand-made clothes in a pile in another cupboard for um…prosterity? A record of where I’ve come from on the sewing journey? To show my grand-children?

…too silky… too good…can’t move my arms…ugh, too printy…

And what if your non-joy-sparking pieces amass a good portion of your hand-makes? The pile is pretty big. I haven’t yet gone through the ones hanging up, but I know there will be more to add. And it’s got me thinking…why so many? What is happening during the creative process that there is this big gap between clothes that I just love to sew (and look at) and clothes I actually want to wear. Just know, this is not a wardrobe bashing, nor a print funeral. I LOVE looking at my hand-made closet, I love the colours and the prints, really I do! And sewing your own clothes IS the perfect opportunity to experiment with personal style, which means you’re not going to hit the mark every time. But what I would like is to close this gap, piece by piece so that I get to enjoy more of my hand-makes ON my body, rather than just as an exquisite piece of wardrobe installation art.Post-9I’ve concluded there’s a battle going on here. And possibly between the left and right hemispheres, perhaps? Righty spends her days bobbing up and down on her back in a sea of the most beautiful, delicious, printed fabrics. She’s not particularly concerned by the practicalities of daily life. I suspect she also exclusively wears two-piece sets. Her motto, tattooed in hand lettering, on her forearm: Sew for the Life you want to LIVE. Lefty, opens the door to a closet FULL of clothes every morning with: ‘where did all these fucking prints come from?!’. Lefty is very much aware of the practicalities of day to day living, in fact, right now she’s running late and just got out of the shower to discover that her only ONLY current pair of workable bottoms, her black skinny jeans, are in the wash. She grabs them out of the basket anyway and starts flicking through her wardrobe for a top… ‘too silky… too good…can’t move my arms…ugh, too printy…not suitable for vacumming’. And on it goes. She needs her clothes to just do their thing so she can get on with her thing. Her catchphrase: ‘I just wanna be comfy…is that too much to ask? Is it?!’. She will not be getting this tattooed on her forearm any time soon.Post-7Where to from here? There’s nothing like the annual sewing event of Me Made May to bring to the forefront what is and isn’t working about your hand-made closet. It’s also a tricky time of year here in Brisbane because it’s all summer, summer, summer, still summer, BANG! Winter. And that’s May. Last year I got caught out and had to sew a hundred Nettie Bodysuits (three). Since then I have only topped them up with one store bought navy tee and one grey thrifted singlet. That is the sum total of my ‘basics’, no lies! On the bottom half, I have my black skinny jeans. Period. This is all actually quite perfect timing because I am REALLY super duper excited to make another attempt at a Capsule Closet for Winter. I feel like I’m ready.  Ready to make more conscious choices with my hand-made wardrobe. Ready to take the time to sew the PERFECT fitting jeans. I’ve created a Winter Sews moodboard, started collecting fabric samples and acquiring fabrics one by one. I’ve been giving a LOT of thought to what I would like to wear, what fabrics I want next to my skin, what colours are going to make me feel / look alive. How I can build on what’s already there, so that gradually, piece by piece my closet starts to resemble a thoughtfully created and workable collection of pieces I LOVE TO WEAR and love to sew.

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

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