Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Summer Picnic Dress

At last. I wrote about starting this dress some months ago, and now it's finally here!

It all started when I bought fabric in a crazed moment of glee because there was so much that I loved. My colleagues looked worriedly at me when I returned from several lunch breaks laden with fabric. I chose not to care.

Amoung the treasures was some sweet white fabric with an array of pink threaded checks. It reminds me a bit of a picnic blanket, hence this dress's name. After several scribbles of what I thought would work I settled on an idea, and conveniently could draft the pattern from two existing garments.

All pattern pieces were cut on the bias, squeezed into just 1.5 metres of 112cm wide fabric. I pride myself on my squeezing skills, but I must admit here that the checks on the skirt panels do not match very well, which would have been nice but wasn't to be.

After carefully cutting my pieces out, I started sewing the skirt together. With no overlocker at home, I was forced obliged to learn the stitchy skill that are french seams. Oh my, these seams are so pretty and polished looking! Each time I sewed one I would triumphantly march over to J, show it to him and announce "See? French seam!!". I kid you not, I actually did that.

Sewing frenchies on the curves of the bodice was hard, so I gave up on that. I decided to fully line the dress as the fabric was a teensy bit see-through. Once I decided to line it, I wasn't too phased with not having the bodice sewn with french seams.

This dress has no closures - as it's on the bias it requires a bit of wiggling to get it on, but my theory is that if you can do get it on by yourself, then it's all good. If you can't wriggle in then stick a zip in it! Sadly the lining doesn't have quite as much stretch as the outer fabric, so there's the odd picker, which I can live with.

Mama Gypsy (yep, she's a crazier gypsy than I) gets a little weary but proud when I go for projects like this - I have no fear and will plunge in to making a pattern and sewing it up. There's less tears these days as I get smarter, but she did tell me off for cutting it on the bias with so many little pieces.

Despite the fact that I probably went about this in the wrong fashion, I love this dress and am so ridiculously proud of my achievement. I find that I learn more when I go through the entire process of drafting as it forces me to thing really hard about construction, the pieces, the fit, everything. Admittedly I grew up watching her make patterns so I don't find them as daunting as some and am pig-headed enough to decide what I want and go gung-ho to get it.

If anybody is interested I would be happy to consider loading the pattern (refined by my convenient pattern-maker and Mama Gypsy) online at burdastyle for people to use... let me know if anyone would like it as I'm happy to share, having used so many people's work myself! I'll make another dress and write up more detailed instructions to accompany as well.


  1. Love this dress! Love the style, the fabric, and what?! No zipper?! It's perfect!

  2. Haha thank you! I'm quite happy with how it turned out. In the next few months I'm hoping to refine and grade it in several sizes to load onto Burdastyle as well, so if you want you can then copy! I think I want another version in a pretty shade of blue!

  3. Ooh yay! I'd love that! And yes, you definitely need a blue version!

  4. So gorgeous! Seriously impressive with the self-drafting & I think makes it just that much more special! (FYI: I would definately be all over a PDF pattern!)

    1. Thank you! I do love this dress, and I'm planning on making a few more so I think that making a 'proper' pattern is definitely in order, so I'll look into getting that pdf underway, but it will probably only be in March - I'm off on holiday soon!

  5. cute cute cute!! Aww those pics make me miss summer!


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