Sewing Inspiration for the Picnic Dress

Howdy y'all! So psyched to see your amazing response to the newest Lila + June pattern, the Picnic Dress. We've got patterns heading out all over the world this week, so thank you! You rock!  Lots of love went into designing this dress, and I can't wait to see what you do with it. :)

Today I'd like to share some of the inspiration photos I've collected for this pattern. This dress style was pretty popular in the 1950s, both in ready-to-wear and sewing patterns, and it's a staple in the vintage repro world as well. I have SO MANY images! Here are a few of my favorites.


First, this dress is SO GOOD in florals! The soft gathers and stylized hourglass shape work well with organic shapes, and the gathers at the bust and in the skirt add a bit of texture and visual interest to a floral print.

Case in point: the Bernie Dexter Paris Dress*...

...this lovely vintage floral* with piping to highlight the gathered bust...

... and this ethereal orange number from xtabayvintage on Etsy. Yum.

Not much of a floral person? Ok. Let's talk about solids. Solids allow you to play with texture, add subtle midriff detailing, and play up the hourglass shape without the distraction of a print.

This tangerine dress from vintagebluemoon on Etsy is giving me all the feels. What a lovely way to add a bit of interest to the midriff, too.

And this beautiful black dress* is just so lovely and simple, and also black. Like my soul. Seriously though, is there anything more elegant than a black dress?

*        *        *

One of my favorite things about vintage styles is the clever way designers marry prints with designs. Often, when I'm working through an inspiration photo and trying to understand how the dress works and what makes it so appealling, I discover that the dress was literally designed for the print or vice versa.

This dress* is a perfect example. The tiny dark print at the waist and the larger, lighter print at bust and hem exaggerate the hourglass shape.  This effect would be lovely in a floral, too!

And frankly, who doesn't like a good border print? I love the boats on this Retrospec'd Beyond the Sea dress, and the gathered skirt on the Picnic Dress is a great place to show off a large or novelty print.

At this point you're probably thinking "but what about Marilyn?" Truth be told, this blue and white dress has been floating around in my consciousness for a long time, and I know I'm not the only one.

Everything about this dress is so lovely and feminine, from the print to the gathered bust to the tiered skirt. And that piping! So good. The bust shaping on the Picnic Dress is a bit different, both to give it more support and to make fitting easier, but Marilyn's dress was definitely an inspiration. ;)

This dress is similar, with the gathers in the bust mirrored in the tiered skirt. If you're digging the tiers, I've got a tutorial for a tiered skirt that you can use as a starting point for making your own. 

There are so many lovely ways to make the Picnic Dress. I hope these dresses get your creative juices flowing!

Happy sewing - 


*all images are from Pinterest / have no clear original source unless otherwise noted. And I looked! If I've used one of your images, please let me know so I can give you credit.


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