S.E.W.N.

24/04/2017

INDIESEW SPRING / SUMMER BLOG TOUR

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami I can’t think of any better excuse than to dust off the blogwebs on this fine autumnal day to join in the Indiesew Spring / Summer collection blog tour. I’m sharing my newly beloved Ogden Cami by True Bias. And she’s a good un’.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami I’ve been thinking a lot of lately about what a truly awesome time in history it is to be sewing a hand-made wardrobe. When I first started sewing clothes for myself, a few years ago, I never imagined there would come a time when I lost all interest in shopping. Unless we’re talking about fabric / patterns / accessories to go with hand-made wardrobe. I honestly can’t remember the last time I stepped inside a Westfield to buy an outfit. So weird. And weirder still is I don’t feel like I’m making any compromise or sacrifice at all, sewing my own clothes. Being spoilt for choice when it comes to sewing patterns has a lot to do with it! A generation or two ago there a small core group of pattern companies, who may or may not have taken cues from mainstream fashion (highly debatable). I’m sure I would have hated the lack of choice back then, especially if it was a case of be clothed in handmades or go naked. But now, in 2017 there are so many new indie sewing pattern designers I almost can’t keep up. We are so lucky to have such variety of patterns, beautiful fabrics and niche sewing businesses, like Indiesew, popping up exclusively for us sewists.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami We have much to catch up on. I have been sewing sewing sewing like a mad woman all year but just not blogging blogging blogging apparently. I’ve also changed track pretty heavily when it comes to style and the choices I’m making for my hand-made wardrobe. I’ve been buying lots of solid fabrics, hardly any prints and god forbid…linen! At some point in the last few months, maybe with impending Me Made May, I had a light bulb moment and realised that if I devoted a month or two to sewing some boring ‘staples’, filling the gaps in my wardrobe with good base items then maybe it would be more fun to supplement it with frivolous sews. Because at least I would have something to wear them with. It seems to be working and my resistance to basics is lifting! I’ve recently sewn black culottes, skinny jeans, cream palazzos, navy cropped pants. Basically, the basics.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Which brings me to today’s business which is to heavily plug the Ogden Cami slash camis in general. And why you should sew one. I have the bottoms department fairly well covered now but tops is another thing. I don’t even know what I like to wear on top any more! To give you some idea of my lack of idea, I sewed this kimono about two years ago. It has remained mostly unworn and not just because of the funny thing about not wearing garments before they’re safely photographed but also because I just didn’t know what to wear with it or under it. And buying wasn’t an option obvs. So there it sat! Step in…Ogden Cami. Hellooooo! Like everyone else has been saying, it’s the luxy staple my wardrobe has been crying out for.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami The art of the cami is a fine one. And in my now-cami-knowledgable opinion the perfect cami is not too blousy, not too fitted so that it can be enjoyed tucked in or out. The Ogden hits that sweet spot, as you can see here I started with it out and eventually tucked it in. This kind of versatility is pretty great, especially if you find yourself with an almost entirely highwaisted wardrobe. Proportions are everything.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami The Ogden is a relatively quick make…I was expecting it to be super quick but it took a few hours, possibly because I decided to french seam the insides because I didn’t want to change overlocker thread. I’m sure by the second or third, you could be in a good rhythm and knock one out in under 2 hours? Maybe I am just slow. Anyway, the instructions are friendly, there’s also a sewalong if you prefer more visuals but it’s pretty straightforward. The only mod I made was to reduce the strap width by 1/4″. I like a delicate cami strap, just aesthetics is all! Of course I will sew an army of Ogdens now, in fact I have another cut already…

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Now seems like as good a time as ever to confess that this whole outfit is made by yours truly, bar underwear and shoes. After my first successful foray into DIY jeans, I thought I would have a go at knocking off a favourite pair of RTW skinny jeans that I paid a lot of money for but now doesn’t count because I’ve got the pattern and it’s mine to knock off forever mwahaha. These jeans are really deserving of their own post, which will come. They were like the third child I never birthed. And threatened to abandon by the roadside. However, what I will say for now is that this denim is noteworthy in itself. It’s from Indiesew and truly one of the nicest denim fabrics I’ve seen, sewn and worn. It’s soft, but snug and hasn’t bagged out so far.

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami This little Kimono I also knocked off a RTW piece of a friend’s. I loved the cocoon shape. I picked up a little of this jaw dropping printed silk from Emma One Sock a few years ago and it’s certainly magical but also crazy slippery and never stays on my shoulders, which I kind of hate. When I took these photos, it was billowing and slipping off and wind was blowing it off and my hair all over my face and it was a sensory overload!

Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami Ada Spragg | Ogden Cami I hope you’re inspired to DIY your own Ogden Cami! Be sure to check out the rest of the makers and their makes on the Indiesew spring / summer collection, tour line-up below:

 

 

 

06/09/2016

The Namesake Swimsuit

DIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.com DIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.com DIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.comDIY Bustier Bikini | A D A S P R A G G | www.adaspragg.com

It’s Spring it’s Spring! Out with the old, in with a new hand-made swimsuit. And a new format to sooth our information bombarded brains; instead of flipping back and forth between image and text, you can look at pretty pictures and leave (it’s o.k. I get it) or if you’re interested in the specs or just here for the dulcet tones of my blogging voice, it’s all business as usual below…

It’s no secret I’m fond of swimsuits. I’ve been pinning them mercilessly here for years, for no other reason than that I love swimwear fabric, I love prints and I love what a brand new swimsuit symbolises. A feeling of freedom; holidays at the beach, an early morning bodysurf, letting hair dry salty and tangled, that ferocious hunger that only an ocean swim can bring. A sensory summer love fest! Maybe there’s a repressed surf chick in here somewhere, only now she’s more about eco-tan than real tans and simulated ‘beach scenarios’.

You could understand I nearly flat lined when Heather from Closet Case Files announced that 1. she was creating a bustier swimsuit pattern and 2. would I be okay with being it’s namesake. Ummmm…access to bustier swimsuits at the press of a peddle forever? Let’s be clear here. It would be a honour to be the muse for any pattern; but a bustier bikini. Well, that really is the penultimate. And sure, it marries all the very best things about this sewing blogging community but it’s also an uhhhhhmazing pattern. One that I would recommend to you even if it were called the Jessica or the Savannah. Without further ado, my Sophie Swimsuit experience:

P A T T E R N  Sophie Swimsuit

F A B R I C  Floral Lycra + Stripe Lycra (similar here) Pitt Trading & Tessuti are current hot spots for beautiful swimwear fabric.

S I Z E  Bra 6 / cup 4. Briefs 8

P R O C E S S  The pattern comes with an option of an accompanying video tutorial. I love this idea, being a visual learner, and can’t help but think how cool it would be if every pattern came with a video option. Having produced a small video tutorial this year, and knowing the amount of time energy that goes into it, this would be pretty hard to sustain, but still. I used the video tutorial the entire way and glanced at the printed instructions for backup in only a few sections. As a bonus, it was kinda like me and Heather, hanging out, sewing a ‘kini in my loungeroom!

L O V E D  the fiddliness of the bra cup section. Having to be so meticulous and slow inserting the underwire channels, top-stitching the edges and threading the wire, is as close to sewing zen as I’ll ever get. The way Heather explains the process there’s no room for guessing. The result is 100% professional and you finish knowing you got new skillz!

F I T T I N G  As per the instructions I chose a size 6 for the bikini top, based on my under-bust measurement. Lovely. Here’s my advice: be a good sewist now and don’t play guessing games with Heather’s cup sizing chart, ok. She knows what she’s talking about. Especially don’t try and make connections between her cup sizing 1,2,3,4, and A,B,C,D, etc, like I did. My measurements put me between cup size 4 and 5 and I was all, nah-uh, there’s no way I’m a D/E cup. No, no, no. Just follow the chart. I cut out my size “”3″” cup, completely. Out of fabric, contrast, moulding, lining, everything. Luckily, you construct the moulding first, so you can try it on in the mirror to see if it will go around a boob. The size three covered like, half a boob. I had to go back and re-cut the entire bra in the 4. Even this felt like a major sizing compromise but now I think I could do with trying the size 5 cup. Hoping the 4 might become forgiving towards summer; more salads less roasts etc.

The fit of the bikini bottoms is bang on. Having made several high waist bikinis (here & here) I feel I am in a position to say that this is by far the most comfortable and secure. Assuming, you like a proper high-waisted bikini, that is. I cannot stand it when something claims to be high-waisted, only to sit an inch or two below the navel. Just no. A high-waist should rest on or over a navel, like this one, in my opinion. There it serves many purposes but mainly to act like secret spanx.

M O D S  I widened the centre front and back panels on the bottoms and reduced width of the side panels for more floral less stripe ~ Made slightly thinner bikini straps using the dimensions and process from this tutorial ~ Added boning to the side seams on bikini top. I was introduced to the idea here and really liked the extra stability it provides for not too much fuss to insert.

D E S I G N  N O T E S  You know it’s love (or something else) when you change the colour of the thread in your coverstitch / zigzag to jump from the floral to the stripe section. I also made three straps for the bikini top in total, the one you see here which stretches from one side of the bra hook to the other, plus another two separate straps out of the stripe for a neckband that ties up. A girl has to have options.

N E X T  T I M E  If it wasn’t perfection already, Heather’s gone done released a bonus download for a long-line version of the bikini top. Check out omg this one. I would definitely add boning again on the side seams and possibly along the two vertical below-bust seams, like I notice quite a few RTW versions have. How many swimsuits does one girl need? Guys, I’ve thought long and hard about this and…oh look mustard, floral zimmerman lycra!

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29/08/2016

Croc-Culottes + Turtleneck

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingI am so happy culottes are still around. I love that they’re re-spawning too, into a slightly thinner flared version I believe is getting around by the alias ‘cropped pants’. I have no idea, really, but their lengthy fashion term means this: we are spoilt for culotte sewing patterns! There’s so many so I’ll just mention a special few. There’s the Winslow culottes, with some serious pleatage going on and some very cool versions around. There’s the Galleria culottes; sleek and classic, not unlike their designer Sasha. There’s the newly released Emerson crop pant, which seems to sit somewhere between a culotte and it’s slender cropped cousin mentioned. There’s these you see here, the Style Arc Erin Woven culottes, plus a million more.

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingDIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingWhen choosing a culotte pattern, it’s important to know where you stand on pleats. You can have no pleats, a dash of pleats, or shimmy right on down to pleat town. These are your options and it’s a personal choice but consider this: pleats add volume, not just in the pleat itself but that extra fabric all has to end up in the width of the pants at the base too. I’m partial to some detailing at the front, yes, but also aware it’s only one hop and a pleat away from the culottes-come-parachute look at any time.

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingOn the scale of pleats, the Erin culottes sit nicely around the middle. Literally. The slanted side pockets become part of the side pleats and then there’s a hidden, deeper pleat in centre front. The result gives some interest and detail whilst maintaining a mostly flat front. The pattern makes up beautifully in a drapey woven, as you can see in this white crepe version from the original pattern. But then I was also moved by Sallieoh’s version made from fabric with obvious body. After my first two forays into culottes were more novelty (egg yolk and upholstery) than wearable I decided to get serious and make pair that I would wear.

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingFor the fabric, I was imagining something subtle and textured to make a classic winter culotte to pair with cosy knitwear. This cotton blend from The Fabric Store, triggered a vague sense of out of body-ness at the realisation I was about to buy something so khaki and muted. However, the combination of colour, knobbly texture and good bottom weight made them look decidedly un-hand-made, which I suspect is why I wear them all the time.

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingSizing wise, I made my usual Style Arc size 8 (normally vogue 12ish, to give you an idea of the difference). They ended up roomy enough that I had to take them in through the waist and hips. The one thing I didn’t love about the pattern is the curved waistband. I feel like the way the fabric is sitting at the front pleats, it really wants to be hanging off a straight waistband and then sit on the waist. I feel like comfort-wise I want things to sit high waisted or on the hips, not in between. However because the pattern is designed to sit at the natural waist, it makes sense to have a curved waistband. I suspect it’s also better suited to lighter fabrics that won’t drag on the waistband, as in the original pattern version. A good press might help too, who was responsible for that?

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingDIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingThe only mod I made was to add welt pockets using this tutorial. It’s my go to! There’s nothing, apart from a good solid stitch in the ditch, that feels as sexy as getting a welt pocket right. It’s legit. Any day now, my welt pocket scout badge will turn up in the mail, I can feel it. Like all new skills in sewing, underwires, invisible zippers, flys…welt pockets are only made intimidating by sewing folklore. It’s not to be trusted because they’re not to be feared. Once you get your first you’ll want to welt all the things, it’s natural. But try your first welt not on your actual garment…

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingLike Burdastyle, Style Arc instructions were once always light on the illustrations side, but I’ve noticed their more recent patterns include more diagrams at crucial steps, which is ever so nice. This may or may not be related to having some trouble with part of the instructions for the centre front here. As you can see the pleats meet in the middle instead of overlapping like they’re supposed to. The effect is okay, but if you’re making these, follow the instructions, don’t refer to mine for a visual!

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingDIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingI love this top patternnn! After the Birkin flares, I believe it’s the second staple in the history of my hand-made wardrobe. It filled a gap I didn’t even know I had! At the start of winter I was so SO close to buying a turtleneck. But I am ever so happy I decided to DIY instead of buy. The pattern is the Papercut Rise & Fall turtleneck. This is the Rise version in a scrumptious mid weight merino jersey with lycra from here, and it’s fab. Firstly, it’s a quick sew, less than 2 hours from start to finish including cutting. I sewed it entirely on the overlocker, then coverstitched the hems; which always makes for a happy sewist. And lastly, fit wise, it’s everything you could want for in a store bought turtleneck.DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingAs is habit now, I did some preliminary sleuthing and found that while most said they loved the pattern, they wished they had sized down. I sized down and the fit through the body is perfection. The only mod I made was to add 1″ to the sleeves. Next time I would add 2″ to the sleeves and 1-2″ to the hems but if you have regular length arms this wouldn’t be necessary. Now I’m dreaming of another version with above elbow length sleeves, in a stripe.

DIY Culottes + Turtleneck | ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's SewingThere’s nothing else to add, it has kept me toasty warm through a mild Brisbane winter and I need 100 more.

 

27/07/2016

Midi Skirt + Mini Shorts

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

Pattern: Named Apila Shorts + self-drafted overlay

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

Size: 38

I’m not sure what’s happening to time but as I get closer to thirty, it feels like I’m living in a vacuum. I made this skirt in September last year, SEPTEMBER!  I stole the idea directly from this skirt, which I had pinned to a summer sewing ideas board even before that. It was one of those ideas that probably wouldn’t have come to fruition if I didn’t accidentally find the perfect fabric. I would never have gone looking something sheer and panelled but as it happened I was searching for something else on Etsy, possibly trims, and came across it.

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

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

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

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

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

16/05/2016

Semi-Self-Drafted Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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