Completed: The Picnic Dress

This dress post has been a long time coming, but I finally managed to go out and take some photos of the completed Picnic Dress this past weekend.

Yes… indeed it was a bit chilly outside but not terrible; it got up to 60 degrees today.

Before I delve in too far to the details, I have to share with you again the inspiration behind this creation:

Stephanie of Girl with the Star Spangled Heart blog made up this dress after seeing another 50’s design using this print on Bernie Dexter’s shop.  The Bernie Dexter dress is lovely.  Stephanie’s dress is even more so, since she created it.  I too fell in love with this fabric after seeing hers and scoured online for the Michael Miller BBQ print to create one for my very own.

I couldn’t find more of that bbq print on, but I did find this mod bbq grill one instead.

This summer especially, I’ve kept finding Stephanie creating dresses that I too had wanted to make but never got to.  I’m thinking mainly of her patio dress which I’ve been longing to make something similar in a cotton gauze since I got a pattern for in 2012.

I find it’s a fine line between recreating a look for your very own and hacking the design – and it all comes down to credit: Give credit where it’s due.

Creating (whether it be sewing or knitting or anything) is a personal and fun process.  I really think it’s great when a gal will write a comment to me that I’ve inspired her to go out and get the same pattern or the same fabric/yarn to make a garment for their very own too.  It’s truly one of the greatest compliments I can get as a seamstress and makes me tickled that you’d like it so much to make one for your very own.  :)

I’ve never felt like my dress was ‘stolen’ as long as it was made known – which is how I feel most of us bloggers & sharers of projects feel.  So Stephanie “Thank You” so much for inspiring me to make this cute 50’s picnic dress.  If you ever visit Chicago – we have to wear it together and be twinkies for the day.  :D

First of all, I would like it known that this is most likely the first time you’ve seem my shoulders!  heh  I’m sooo NOT fishing for comments but I really don’t like my chunky upper arms.  My shoulders are fine – but there’s a shall we say…. thickness to my arms.  Now I’ve been working out a ton and can do 30 lb. shoulder presses and even dead lift 115 lbs.  But my arms have remained “looking” the same no matter what.  So here they are…  I just have to get over it I guess and this is step one.

This angle is fine…

This angle is less than fine….

I went with a black detailing at the straps and piping at the under bust since it really breaks up the busy print so well.

When did I get so freckly??  huh  Okay… moving on.

I had a hard time getting the fit of the bodice just right.

I have such a petite upper bust that I was trying to add elastic to the top bust gathers and even that wasn’t working to prevent gaping.  I ended up removing a good 4-6 inches of width at the bust and doing less gathers there to try and help prevent gaping when I bent over.  It’s a tiny bit tight when I stand straight up but even so… when I bend over there’s still a slight gape.  Hopefully I can figure it out for next time – if there is a next time with this pattern.

I went and added in two side back panels of shirring onto the bodice of the dress using Gertie’s directions here.

I have to say, shirring this dress was the best decision I made; It’s fitted yet oh so comfortable to wear!

And this is how I can pull of wearing this dress to work:

This little cropped jacket does wonders for many of my dresses that aren’t necessarily work-appropriate.

My favorite part of this dress, besides the shirring & the print is the skirt.  It has these wonderful tucks on either side of the center front – it makes for a perfect fullness at the hem while remaining trim at the waist.

I followed the pattern instructions mainly & the only altering I did was to add that back shirring panel and reduce the bust gathers.  All in all, this was an easy summer dress to make.  And thanks again Stephanie for the inspiration to make this for my very own!

In: Sewing

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (31)

  1. Amanda in France October 21, 2013 — 8:26 AM

    Cute!!! Talk to us more about that cropped jacket too!

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:44 PM

      My cropped jacket… heh Well… I got that at TJ Maxx at least 5 years ago. It’s a thick knit fabric of some sort (cotton??) and it’s been a great wardrobe staple of mine. The sleeves are a perfect length for my petite upper half.

  2. Bridget October 21, 2013 — 8:42 AM

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with your arms. I think we are our own worst critics :) The dress is gorgeous! I love the cut and the contrasting straps and piping really make it pop even more. Well done and I’m envious you can stick with and finish so many projects. I’ve totally lost my sewing and knitting mojo and have now turned to filet crochet and quilting for my new antique bed (which still needs to be sanded and refinished, argh another project!). Hopefully I can stick with those projects long enough to finish something. Again, love love love the dress!

  3. Sarah October 21, 2013 — 8:58 AM

    Gorgeous! I love the little cropped jacket. Did you make it?

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:54 PM

      I wish I could say I made it. I will have to trace this one when it officially dies. It’s a budget find from many years ago and get’s a lot of use in the fall months.

  4. Tasha October 21, 2013 — 9:18 AM

    That is such an adorable dress! I loved Stephanie’s version, too. The shirring seems like such a great idea. I have a couple of pieces with shirring and I’m really tempted to try it myself on something at some point (I’ve only done it on a little dress I made my niece when I first started to sew again).

    The dress is really sensational with the cropped jacket on top, too. I like how it kind of takes something summery slightly into fall with a little twist, since of course the fabric is all about summer escapades. :)

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:53 PM

      The shirring is wonderful; I love that it’s fitted and yet so pajama-like comfortable. :D

  5. So cute! :D So glad you finished this dress! It looks so awesome on you.

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:53 PM

      Thanks Stephanie!! I finished it so long ago, I just never *manned* up to go out an take photos of it. It’s such a happy dress. Do you wear yours often?

  6. Kelly October 21, 2013 — 10:10 AM

    So cute! And it really transforms into a surprisingly good work dress with that magic jacket. I would be so honored if anyone ever was inspired to make something that I came up with, I suspect you made Stephanie’s day!

  7. Meli October 21, 2013 — 10:47 AM

    Funny story, I was thinking that your arms looked great when you mentioned that you aren’t a fan… quit worrying, you’re adorable! And the dress looks great!

  8. Lynn October 21, 2013 — 11:14 AM

    Really, there is nothing wrong with your arms. I think we all make the mistake of wanting to be lithe and long limbed because that is the image we are bombarded with as the ideal of beauty. I, like you, am small (5 whole feet, 0 inches) but more solid and muscular rather than waif like and thin. NOTHING wrong with that, just different than tall, willowly women.

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:52 PM

      Hey Lynn. Thanks so much for this. I do feel I’m quite solid and I know I’ll never be a sinewy, willowy gal which is fine. I just assumed since I can lift so much more weight than I could a year or two ago that my shape would alter – but it’s 100% the same. I just had different expectations & am trying to shed my preconceived notions about my own arms. One step at a time right?! :D

  9. Amanda October 21, 2013 — 11:59 AM

    You look great in this dress and no reason to feel self conscious! For me…when I really start lifting I often get thicker arms. I didn’t get good definition until I started pilates. It totally changed how my upper arms, calves, chest and upper abs look. I still weigh the same, and wear pretty much all the same clothes. So, most of the “big” differences are things that only I see in the shower. But, I did boost my self confidence and my core strength is the best ever.

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 12:49 PM

      Hmmm My arms have gotten slightly thicker and the shape of them has stayed exactly the same – much to my surprise. So… pilates huh??? :)

  10. K-Line October 21, 2013 — 12:14 PM

    As always, totally adorable. And I know you’re not fishing for feedback, but I think your arms look just lovely!

  11. Roxanne October 21, 2013 — 12:41 PM

    You are rockin’ that dress: it looks amazing and so do you. That shirring detail is really genius! I always like wearing pieces with that detail because it’s so comfy and fitted without being constricting. Please tell us more about the jacket too!

  12. Debi October 21, 2013 — 1:39 PM

    LOVE.this.dress! I remember seeing this fabric from stephanie’s blog and also Cassie’s blog…and this is so cute. I just adore how it translates into fun office wear too!

    1. Liz October 21, 2013 — 2:14 PM

      Thanks so much Debi! This super cropped jacket is able to translate so many of my vintage summer dresses into office wear – I don’t know what I would do without it.

  13. This is beautiful on you, and super flattering! How clever to add the shirring panels on the sides.

  14. Gail October 21, 2013 — 5:50 PM

    That is so cute! Also, I really like your perspective on “copying” what other bloggers have done. I sometimes feel guilty if I do it, even if I give them credit. It’s time to get over that!

  15. Neeno October 21, 2013 — 8:01 PM

    Beautiful!!!! I just LOVE the fabric!!! Looks great on you.

  16. Rachel October 21, 2013 — 8:38 PM

    It is a very cute dress- and looks really fancy styled with the cropped jacket :)
    I agree with you regarding the copying- we are often inspirations to each other, so it seems perfectly normal that sometimes patterns will converge :D

  17. Amanda October 22, 2013 — 3:45 AM

    This is such a fab make and a lovely hat tip to Stephanie! I really like the shirring at the back- it looks polished but I imagine rather comfy!

  18. That dress fabulous and I immediately recognized Stephanie’s print :D

    Your arms are fine. Remember that skinny arms or legs is just a trend. I have the same with my thigh. It was like that all my life but it’s getting worse since I practice capoeira. I’ve been doing it for over a year and I knew that I was going to get very muscular thighs. Well, this is who I am and I love capoeira so much to leave it just because skinny girls are trendy. Liz, we look and are healthy, and that’s all that matters!

    1. Liz October 22, 2013 — 10:00 AM

      Heh Don’t even get me started on thighs Elena! Since lifting my thick thighs have just gotten thicker. heh I’ve accepted those long ago and actually like how strong my legs are despite their thickness. I’m of sturdy Norwegian stock. :)

  19. BTW, I can also recommend pilates, not only for the shape it’ll give you but also because practicing it you will automatically correct your posture yourself, having diminishing back pain.

  20. It’s fantastic! I love the shirring at the sides! I bet it makes the dress really comfortable to wear. I sometimes feel like my fitted woven bodices are a bit constricting. I wonder if I could sneak in a little shirring to eliminate that. I really love the whole look with the little jacket too!

  21. Kate-Em October 26, 2013 — 6:46 AM

    Your dress is so pretty and you have made it such a perfect fit. Love the cropped jacket too. Well done on your house purchase, how exciting!

  22. Danae November 13, 2013 — 8:52 PM

    Hello beautiful lady! I adore all of your sewing projects; I must say I wish I could sew as well as you can – just comes down to hard work and practice, I guess!

    Normally I don’t comment on things like body image and such, and I’m sure you’ve heard enough this blog post (albeit they are all lovely, warm comments from a vibrant and caring community), but I feel I just need to tell you this in case you really would like to make a change.

    Body composition is determined mostly by diet – which is why no matter how much toning you do, you may not see a difference. Props to you for strength training – I myself am a Lady Who Lifts. I would highly recommend checking out Mark’s Daily Apple ( and trawl through the testimonials there. It might change your life!

    That’s enough from me and my armchair fitness/health knowledge. I really encourage discussion around my comments, so feel free to reply (positive or negative; a healthy debate is good for everybody). :)

    Don’t forget that you are beautiful!

  23. Renae May 16, 2019 — 12:45 AM

    Oh my goodness! How cute are you?! Love your work on the dress. Shirring is my next challenge! By any chance, do you have any leftover fabric from this project? I would die to buy some from you !! Xoxo

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