Tuesday, September 20, 2011

picnic blanket dress tutorial: or, the beginning


this is where it all started. my initial vaguely formed idea was a dress made from a “picnic blanket”-type material. maybe with some picnic foods embroidered around the edges, or sewn into pockets…


my overall idea changed, but i still stuck to this dress.


and the bugs?


perfect for my little bug lover ;)


as usual, no full tutorial. but i’ll show how i altered my “pattern dress” to change the neckline and add a collar.

i used an existing dress to get a basic gauge for proportions and shape.

i only traced the front, strap, armhole and side (adding approximately 1/2” seam allowance) onto a piece of freezer paper:


which gave me this:
(ignore those other crazy lines on the front. not sure what i did there)
then i drew in my square neckline by connecting the strap and front with straight lines:


and labeled everything:


to make the collar i cut out my bodice front piece and traced the neckline onto another piece of freezer paper:


and drew in the collar shape i wanted:
cut out and labeled that:

IMG_5515_5156(i did write “x4” on here, but i ended up cutting it on a fold, so i only cut “x2” technically)
now cut out all your pieces:
bodice front—x1 on fold
bodice lining—x1 on fold
collar—x2 on fold
(you can line these with some interfacing if you want to help them keep their shape a little better)
back lining--x2


sew your collar pieces together on the outside edge, clip curves and corners:


turn and press:
i have to interject something here. call it a PSA, if you will.

when i sew i sit at my dining room table, and i iron on a table-top ironing board set next to me on the table. i went to press this collar gigi bear was sitting in a chair next to me.

and in an epic tragedy of perfect timing, just as i brought the iron down to press, she put her hand up on the ironing board.


it was literally a split second. but the combination of hot steam and a very very hot iron and the tender skin on the back of her hand…well, it only took a split second.

i know how bad small burns can hurt, and this was big: covering much of the back of her hand and the tops of three fingers. i can’t imagine how bad it hurt. ibuprofen, ice, burn numbing spray…even an entire pack of mints and an episode of sesame street—none of it was quite enough to ease her pain.

and there was nothing to ease the pain of guilt i had. i burned my baby.

it was bad. very, very bad. i actually sewed this dress back in july, and even now midway through september her hand has an ugly purple scar—one i’m afraid may be with her for the rest of her life.

so learn from me: please, please make sure your babies are well away from where ever you are sewing and/or ironing.

back to our sewing:

sew your completed collar to the bodice front, using a scant 1/4” seam allowance.
then sew your back pieces on at the shoulder seams:


sew your lining pieces together at the shoulder seams also. this gives you two complete tops—one with a collar and one without:

(lousy picture…sorry!)

now you’re going to sew your bodice and lining together. pin them RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, matching up your shoulder seams and edges around the entire neck:

and pin the armholes together, again matching your shoulder seams and edges (make sure you don’t catch your collar, which will be sandwiched in there):

sew all these spots (around the neck and both arms) and clip your curves and corners.


now you have to turn the whole thing right side out by pulling the back pieces through the armholes to the front.

open up the bodice front and reach up into the strap…


grab the back piece and start pulling it through…
keep pulling…


even when it looks like a tangled mess…just keep pulling… 

and then do the other side. and eventually you’ll have this:


which you press (far away from all little hands), and it becomes this:

to complete your bodice, just sew your back and front together at the side seams.
line up the seams of the armhole, right sides together, and sew from top to bottom:


this is seriously something i had the HARDEST time figuring out the first time i sewed a bodice like this. the pattern directions had me in a tizzy—for the life of me i couldn’t figure out HOW or WHAT i was supposed to sew together. in case you’re like me, just look at an existing lined garment you have…eventually you’ll figure it out :)

and that’s it. one (basically) completed bodice:


i added a waist band and circle skirt, and then a button closure in the back. i put two little red buttons on the front collar, also.


and the little ants?

two packs of these:

and some black embroidery floss, create a line of ants marching…

plus one little ladybug friend hiding amongst the others…

making one complete picnic blanket dress


and one chocolate cupcake...

making one happy little girl…

but that wasn’t the only fabric i got for gigi’s dress.


i used the one that was pre-printed with ants to make a matching bag:


it came out really cute. and when she wore the dress and carried the bag, they looked adorable together.

but when i did the phots of all the kids…couldn’t find it. anywhere.

so it’s not in any of those shots. but it did make it, and i did take pictures. so next i’ll share that tutorial.

oh, and i did find it again ;)

linking up here:

today’s creative blog

sugarbee crafts


Pin It!


  1. What a great dress. I wish I was a better sewer.

  2. Cute, cute bugs! And dress, overall. You're a sewing genius. Glad you found the bag!
    And I bet you felt the same way I felt when I let mini fall out of the cart and ended up with staples. :(
    What a sad little tale... accidents happen, don't beat yourself up. Hope she's better!

  3. All these dresses have been seriously cute but this one is my favourite - however I was telling a friend (whose not ant friendly) about it and I can confirm it's not hers! ;D

  4. I love the dress! That collar is darling :)

    I have my full size ironing board set up near my machine. My youngest was nearly 5 when she was laying on the floor next to it and decided to pull on the cord. I was sewing only 3-4 ft. from her and didn't have the iron plugged in (thank the Lord!), so I wasn't really thinking of it being unsafe. She knows not to play with cords and had never done so before. But this time she pulled that cord and the iron fell from the board and hit her on the forehead! Though I am thankful it wasn't hot, it still could have cracked her skull or knocked her out. I still feel guilty about that (and she's 6 now).

  5. that dress is adorable!!!

  6. Fabulous details in the dress. I featured it here:


drop me a line. please? don't make me beg...it's not pretty.


Related Posts with Thumbnails