Peasant dresses came into fashion in the 1970s, during the rise of folk- and ethnic-inspired clothing. These dresses usually have drawstring or gathered necklines, full sleeves gathered at the wrists, loosely fitted bodices and tiered round skirts. Due to the relative simplicity of the dress's shape, this type of garment is easy to sew.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Sewing machine
Find a pattern. Major pattern companies such as Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity and Burda are excellent resources for dress patterns. If peasant dresses are currently out of style and you can't find a pattern, other dress patterns can be adapted to suit your needs. Combine a peasant blouse and a tiered skirt pattern to make a dress, or explore options such as the Sew U series of books by Wendy Mullins, which contain instructions on how to adapt and design patterns on your own.
Determine your size. Take careful measurements of your body to determine proper sizing for your dress. Critical spots to measure are the waist, bust, hips and arm length. Check your measurements against the pattern's sizing to select the appropriate size.
Choose a fabric. Peasant dresses can be made out of any type of fabric; however it is important that you choose a fabric that is suitable for the pattern. It is sometimes difficult to adapt a pattern written for stretchy knit fabrics to woven fabrics and vice versa. Purchase the suggested yardage in the pattern's instructions. If you are designing your own dress or combining patterns, simple calculations, or measurement of a paper mock-up should help you determine the yardage requirements. If you are using a patterned fabric, purchase extra yardage to allow for pattern matching at the seams.
Lay out the pattern and the fabric, and cut. Carefully arrange the pattern pieces on the fabric to maximise usable space. Many patterns will come with diagrams of suggested layouts. The book Sew U includes instructions on how to lay out your own patterns prior to cutting fabric. Pin the pattern down and cut out around each pattern piece.
Pin garment pieces and sew. After cutting out the pattern, pin the pieces of the garment together, right sides of the fabric facing each other, and begin sewing, per the pattern's instructions. Generally the bodice and skirt are sewn first, before the sleeves are added.
Hem the garment. Unlike many other garments, peasant dresses are either gathered or have drawstrings or elastic at the neckline and wrists. You will need to hem the skirt of the garment and move on to folding over and sewing an encasement for the wrist and neckline elastics. Elastic can be run through the encasement as a drawstring, or you can pin the gathers for the neckline to the elastic and sew them together.
Finish the garment. Many peasant styles incorporate embroidery, ribbons or other embellishments. These should be added at the final stage of the sewing process. If you choose not to add embellishment, press the finished garment before wearing it.
Tips and warnings
- Pressing the garment after each seam is completed helps the seams lie flat and gives the final product a more polished look.
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- Styleopedia: Peasant Sleeve
- "Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics"; "Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics"; Wendy Mullin with Eviana Hartman; 2008
- "Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe"; "Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics"; Wendy Mullin with Eviana Hartman; 2006