the perfect pair


DIY Culottes | A Britex-enabled make

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


Shorts On The Line // Two Piece + Giveaway – closed

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineIt’s that time of year again! Shorts on The Line time! I’m mucho exited to be taking part once again in this month-of-shorts-appreciation hosted annually by Imagine Gnats and Small and Friendly. Today I’m sharing some shortspiration, which um, as you can see has turned into two-piece setspiration too. Now I, for one, am never shy of an excuse to sew shorts, however if you’d like to get involved and make yourself a pair, all the incentive you need is right here in the massive list of prizes (read: fabric $$$) up for grabs in the Shorts on the Line competition. Alternatively, if you’re a lover not a fighter, just make yourself some damn shorts and share them on KollaboraAda Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineAda Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineAs 2014 is the year of finding and sewing the ‘perfect pair’, my list of ‘shorts to sew’ is a long and winding one. And a growing one. Just recently Tessuti Fabrics released their first shorts pattern, the Esther shorts, which they describe as a ‘classic, vintage-style’ pattern with a high waist,  invisible side zipper and narrow waistband. All I heard was something something, invisible side zipper, something something. Invisible side zippers are good stuff! With no extra bulk being added by a fly front, they make for a super streamlined and flattering fit and are my favourite way to enter and exit a pair of shorts or pants. I was sold, even before Tessuti offered up a copy of their Esther shorts pattern for review, along with a choice of some short worthy fabric from their eye-poppingly gorgeous selection…see confetti print, triangle print and beach scene bombshell fabric. Oh, and because the ladies at Tessuti are mucho generous and just generally awesome, they threw in an extra hard copy of the Esther shorts pattern for someone special! Which is all of you so I’m turning it over to Ronnie the random number generator. If you’d like to win, leave a comment and this time maybe tell me what you ate for breakfast (last time was lunch) and I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineUnfortunately (or fortunately) the closest Tessuti is a whole state away so I chose a piece of this ‘Niwa’ Japanese printed cotton from their online store (they ship worldwide btw) for my Esthers. But back to the Niwa. It’s comes in four pretty colors, this pink is still available here. The fabric itself is a soft, textured cotton and a good weight for shorts but with an open weave that said ‘please don’t thrash me’. So I listened and tacked a silk cotton to all the pieces for less risk of splitage. The construction and instructions were quick and user friendly but it was about half way through when I realised the shorts wouldn’t be complete without a matching top. It is two-piece set month, don’t ya know?!

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineThe top pattern is Simplicity 1366, aka, the boxy crop, and pattern I’m calling as go-to top half for two-piece sets. I just love the extra volume! Which I think helps to balance out the Esther shorts, being quite toit. For once I didn’t know which size to choose, because I did want it quite large and boxy. I chose the larger of two sizes (12) but even now I think I could even have sewn one size larger and still been happy with the volume. This pattern is dead simple and potentially addictive since all you’re dealing with is front, back, sleeves and neck binding. I skipped the neck binding and drafted a quickie facing for the neckline. And when I say drafted, I mean was feeling totally lazy and just hacked the facing straight out of the front and back pieces of the pattern itself. I’m sure it’ll stick back together just fine for next time. And there will be a next time…curious to see how it sews up in something silky like the pattern cover shows and also in fabric with more density…like scuba!

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineI had a few thoughts on taking photos this week which maybe you’re interested in. And a massive breakthrough! This year I invested in a lightly pre-loved DSLR which I’ve been using for everything except my ACTUAL BLOG PHOTOS. Up until now it’s been royally convenient to have someone else take photos of hand-made outfits for the blerg. All the while, knowing the time was coming when I’d have to break out the tripod, which I’ve been simultaneously wanting to try out and successfully avoiding for about 6 months. But somewhere between Friday and Saturday I realised I had no-one to photograph these shorts for Tuesday. And out of pure necessity, on Sunday afternoon, I found myself in a paddock at dusk, sandwiched between a carpark and a main road, with a camera remote I didn’t know how to use, my brother’s schmancy lens, my dad’s tripod and a big fat cloud of doubt.

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineIn the space of two hours I figured out how to use the remote, stick the camera on the tripod, manoeuvre the legs of the tripod ( like wrestling a newborn giraffe) and give it a 2 second delay. I couldn’t work out how to take multiple shots on one press of the remote so it was all click. position. click. position. Not exactly free flowing and relaxed but that’s the next assignment along with editing skills. And because I expected the photos to turn out sub-par, I took a LOT of photos. Surprise surprise in between ALL the bloopers and blurred pics (something ain’t set right), there were actually quite a few passable / blog worthy pics. So I am officially mind blown, and more than a little bit proud for putting my big girl panties on /getting into the situation of having to do it solo or it probably would have been another 6 months before I ventured out.

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineOddly enough, the easiest part of the whole ‘shoot’ was the looking like a twat in public thing. Generally I try to go about it as if taking photos of myself in a field at dusk is the most appropriate thing in the world that I could possibly be doing right now. Not that I’m immune to feelings of self-consciousness. I don’t enjoy having other people watching me take photos, even when someone else is behind the camera. But I’ve kind of realised that people are just curious and they’re going to stare whether you like it or not. So give them something to stare at! Amp up that music that only you can hear, prance, dance, hair toss and generally enjoy your party for one while any onlookers back slowly, slowly away. Then run for their lives. I find going about it with an air of ‘WHAT?! You mean you DON”T take photos of yourself in a field at dusk?!’ helps.

Ada Spragg // DIY Shorts set for Shorts on the LineWell that turned into more than a few thoughts! I guess I found the whole debarkle interesting in a terrifying sort of way. But back to shorts. Between all the  indie companies and commercial pattern designers there are soooo many good looking shorts patterns out there. I’ve listed a whole lot here but even since then more have been released like Katy and Laney’s Tap shorts and Papercut Anima shorts. For shorts inspiration all month long, here’s the line up…

7/28 – Inder Loves Folk Art & Fake It While You Make It

7/29 – Made & Sew Chibi

7/30 – Delia Creates & Casa Crafty & A Happy Stitch

7/31 – Noodlehead & Things for Boys & Sew Delicious

8/01 – Clever Charlotte & Thread Theory & Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!

8/04 – Girl Like The Sea & Buzzmills & Make It Perfect

8/05 – Ada Spragg & You and Mie & Siestas and Sewing

8/06 – Groovy Baby and Mama & Caila Made & Cali Faye Collection

8/07 – Skirt as Top & Katy and Laney & The Scientific Seamstress

8/08 – Petit a Petit and Family & Max California & Melly Sews


The Perfect Pair // Burda Style 7195

IMG_7468 (2)Now, I’ll try not to be offended if no-one remembers at the start of the year I declared 2014 year of The Perfect Pair. No, not a boob job! That’s next year (jokes). Just the year to sew up as many pairs of shorts as possible from this list, in the hopes of unearthing the perfect go-to pattern. All part of the larger plan to sew more ‘fiercely attractive, mum-friendly clothes’. As it happens to be July and this is my second pair, you can see it’s obviously going swimmingly lol. But good ground has been made! I now know that Burdastyle 7195 is NOT my perfect pair of shorts. Okay, so it’s not all bad. It’s just not all good. I’m not 100% convinced they are flattering and this has everything to do with where they hit on the waist and the rear view. My backside has sufficient volume, thank you, why add more? Sure, an elasticated back eliminates the need for a zipper which makes them ‘easy’. But there was just so much potential here: pleats, cuffs, cute waistband details…they even looked great on the pattern cover! But the back, ohhh the back. I’m having a poofy-puffy-pants-party and you’re invited.


IMG_7502The fabric is a nice plain-jane bottom weight cotton twill (with stretch) in an interesting (SOLID!) color. I bought it with plans to sew something or other to go with the rest of my print-heavy closet. And I really thought that they would be the PERFECT PAIR! But alas, we are in love-hate. I love the pleats, the cuffs and the high waist… in theory. However, and this is going to sound weird, the band hits at this awkward point above my waist, where instead of supporting my post-10lb-baby tummy (which can actually look three months pregnant when I relax..amazing huh?!) like a good waistband should, it makes my tummy just want to chillax and hang out under its little ledge. What’s a little stomach muscle separation between friends, ey? Combine it with front pleats and a tendency to carry any extra weight through the middle (where I store my acorns for the winter) and I feel it’s all a little too ‘bulbous’, borderline uncomfortable, for my liking.


Guys! Do you believe in sewers intuition?! You know, that feeling in your gut when yes you measure size A but you’re going to cut size B anyway. Maybe there’s nothing woo woo about it and its something you get better as judging as you go along and begin to notice differences in sizing between pattern companies. In Vogue patterns I never size down and this has served well so far. Out of the other big ‘four’ I often size down and end up getting closer to the fit I want, first go. Which means I’ve never really had to hone my tweaking and fitting skills. Instead I play the size gambling game. Much more fun! And with good returns mostly, except for when I run into crotch depth issues and its resulting camel toe. Times when I actually probably needed the length of that larger size. Anyway, for this pair I took one look at the pattern pieces, correctly gauged them as being gargantuan and sized down from a 12 to a 10.


There quite a few neat little features of the pattern worth noting. So, there’s the pleats, which extend up into more pleats in the waist-band. And then there’s actually a waist tie, which is supposed to be tied at the front, where it hides all the best details of the pattern. I’ve been tying it at the back where it makes the perfect ‘paper bag’ for the gathered waistband in all its glory, coming up…


In spite of all, they’ve been getting some wear. And I do love the big cuffs! Which probably saved them from the naughty corner. The color also goes with a lot of things I’ve already made. Funny, now that there’s more sewing than buying going on, its totally changed my approach to shopping. I feel like I now shop more for pieces that will compliment things already in the hand-made closet. Pieces that go with everything but I’m not necessarily interested in making, at least for now. Like a navy blazer!



Well, all that extra fabric at the back had to go somewhere. And looks like my bottom has eaten it for lunch! Hmm, there’s not really much else to say here so let’s move onto the insides. Last week I admitted a new found love for binding seams, as a fun, ok, rewarding, way to finish edges and pretty up the insides. So I couldn’t resist adding some contrasting ( store bought this time) binding to this pair. It’s a simple process but takes time.


What are your feels? Have you had similar unflattering fit issues with gathered waists? Or post-partum bellies?!


The Perfect Pair // Rust Dot Culottes


Just as suddenly as you may find yourself a mum, you may find yourself required to contort into all sorts of compromising positions during a day. Most likely you will be retrieving something from the ground, sometimes a child, sometimes a snack, sometimes a child with a snack. Whatever it is, rest assured, said incidence will occur at a. school pick up b. school drop off  c. any place you don’t want to hang around with your butt skyward. It is the nature of the beast, there’s nothing you can do. But, if you’re a moderate to quick learner, you’ll only do it, mmm, maybe nine or ten times in a mid thigh skirt / dress.
Until the day you wake up and you realise that you are not the same person you were six short years and a lifetime ago. Clothes that were perfectly comfortable, even practical pre-kids, now fall short, literally. There’s been no dramatic change, just a million small ones that has lead to feeling like I’m on the cusp of a new era of dressing. I mean, I don’t feel that different than I did at 22, sure I’m a little older, a little wiser, maybe. And there are physical changes, like going from being busty with no hippage to hippy with no bustage. But mostly there feels less of a need to scream sexy from the mountaintops. Sure, I still want to feel attractive but mostly I’m too frickin tired to get to the mountaintops. And if I’m screaming, its probably at my kids to stop fighting in my bed first thing in the morning. Joking, mostly. No, they really do fight in my bed.
IMG_9197 IMG_9218
One thing I’ve been noticing more than ever, is how important it is to dress for the day. And, in things that allow me to get on with the day. When I get up in the morning and put on something I feel good in, it colors the whole day. I stand up straighter, smile more, take things less to heart, look out for fun, am more productive and, here’s the big one…I parent, completely differently. Last year I found dressing for the day challenging. Most of the clothes I sewed, fell into the ‘too good’ for every day category. I thought maybe I could start celebrating the everyday by breaking out these clothes but then I thought I might cry if Hudson smeared butter chicken on La Sylphide. This year the plan is balance; sewing more every day clothes for the hand-made wardrobe.
What has all this got to do with shorts? Well, since a day in the life can involve all sorts of weird and wonderful outings / acrobatics it demands a wardrobe to match. And SHORTS are the way forward. The perfect pair can tick ALL the boxes, all two of them: mum friendly and fiercely attractive. This is a fugly shorts free zone, friends. Besides the practicalities, there are a lot of great looking shorts patterns out there that keep getting shoved down the queue by more exciting projects. So I figure, divide and conquer.  I’m aiming to make 4-5 pairs, in the hopes of finding a staple go-to, never-fail shorts pattern for ever more. And where do you start when you want to make yourself some dandy shorts? Here is a list, mostly from independent pattern companies because we love them so…
Fabric // Floaty delicious rayon from here
Size // M (a size up from this version)
Mods // 1.5 inches added to length.

First up, an oldie but a goodie: After this version, which turned out very very short and haven’t been worn much, I’ve been wanting to another go at the Tania’s. The bones are good: the fit is nice, the wide waistband feels secure and the invisible side zip is flattering. Mostly I’ve been waiting to hoe into this amazing rayon, which is so soft and drapey and delicious and I am sad that it’s over but glad it was the Tania’s that did it. If you’re making the Tania’s, you will need something flowy otherwise you’ll get poofy. I let the hems hang for a day or two and decided I rather liked them lower and higher in parts. Also because I wished I had cut them another inch longer so places where the hem dropped kind of made up for it. The upshot: I’ve been wearing them weekly!

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

Back To Top