At a time when social lives revolve around meeting friends for picnics in the park, tea or barbecues in the garden, you need a good picnic dress - which is comfortable, which allows you to sit on the ground, while staying decent, and doesn’t require adjusting as you reach for that socially distanced bit of cake.
Hello…. I’m Suzy of @sewing_in_spain on Instagram, and here’s my version of the perfect picnic dress.
This gorgeous Salso ivory/navy linen viscose blend, from Lamazi Fabrics, is a joy to sew, press, has a wonderful drape and is soft to wear. At the risk of contradicting conventional opinion, after 18 years living in Córdoba, Spain, I have learnt that not all linen is cool in truly hot weather! I reckon you need to find a light linen which allows your skin to breathe, and the Salso linen blend is absolutely perfect. I wore it out for dinner in a friend´s garden, when it was 35 deg. C all evening, and I felt as cool as the proverbial cucumber: the other huge advantage of this fabric is that it hardly creases. The photo below shows the back of the skirt – after it had been worn on what could have been a sticky evening.
Navy and ivory are my neutral colours for summer, so this lovely brushstroke stripe slots in very happily.
The pattern I picked was the Barcelona dress by Maven, also available at Lamazi Fabrics, a company new to me, and I´m very impressed. The pattern is perfectly drafted and the instructions are excellent, with some new ways of doing things, such as the inseam pockets and invisible zip, which I will adopt for other makes. I made a size 12, which gives me a comfortable amount of ease (I´m thinking of my picnic here) and the V-neck back option. Thanks to the insertion of stay tape, the V stays put.
I didn´t shorten the skirt as I usually do, since the chevron has more impact with this longer length.
I also love the visible binding which looks so good with the stripes. I use my edging foot to stitch in the ditch.
As sewists, we are tempted by so many lovely prints, but I think stripes win hands down for creativity – you can play with directions to give such different effects, not least the chevron on the skirt of this dress. The Barcelona instructions guide you expertly through sewing with stripes, making it a great introduction to this technique.
These are my own top five things to bear in mind when sewing with stripes:
- Make a toile. When you have cut out perfectly aligned stripes you don´t want to lose the effect due to fitting changes.
- Look carefully at your stripes. Is it an even stripe, which is the same both ways up, like this one from Lamazi Fabrics?
Or is it uneven? As in the Lamazi viscose twill, I used to make a shirtdress - you can find similar fabric here – with this stripe you have to take into account the direction of your pattern pieces.
The brushstrokes in the striped linen mix I used for the Barcelona dress are very forgiving; they are irregular and so you cannot match them precisely. I made sure they lined up as closely as possible, and although they give the striking visual impact of a stripe, the overall effect is more informal.
- Make full pattern pieces for any that would normally be cut on the fold. Here you see the front bodice piece I made: this way you can line up your stripes accurately.
- Draw lines on your pattern pieces to position your stripes and decide where on the stripe you want these lines to fall. The Barcelona pattern has these lines marked on the pattern pieces.
- Use lots of pins, and tack before stitching.
The overall verdict? I´m truly delighted with this dress - it really is great for summer events and can be dressed up and down. The fabric is soft and cool, so a complete winner…I just feel completely relaxed in it.
Lamazi Fabrics kindly gifted this fabric and I bought the pattern; the views in this post are my own.