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peasant dress tutorial

Thursday, January 30, 2014
I've posted this tutorial before on The Trendy Treehouse blog and it has gotten over 167,000 views...crazy!! Just wanted to repost it here in case anyone is looking for an easy dress to make for the upcoming spring and summer months!!!

I've never taken a formal sewing lesson. I've had two wonderful women show me a thing or two about how to sew. One taught me how to read a quilt pattern and one taught me how to read a clothing pattern. I am so thankful for their help and wisdom but also thankful that my brain works in such a way that I can look at things and sort of just figure out how its made. This doesn't work all the time but I find that I can often times work something out in my head till it actually works in real life. I've been intimidated by patterns since my first "sewing with a pattern" lesson. I'd much rather just get to sewing...but measuring and cutting carefully is all part of the game. So, when I first started making clothes for my kids I stuck to the simple things like pillowcase dresses and tie shirts. Then I did follow a pattern for another dress that I've made a few times and I love it...but I wanted something simple that would come together with little effort...see, I'm lazy and don't want to mess around with a lot of extra steps. My neighbor told me about the peasant dress she had learned how to make at one of her MOPS meetings and I was intrigued. Four rectangles with a little notch cut out, sewn together, add elastic, a hem and call it a dress. Yes please. These are almost easier to make than the pillowcase dresses!! So, please remember that I am no seamstress and I probably don't do things correctly...but here's my version of the peasant dress!

The link to the sizing chart can be found here!!! Make sure to scroll to the second page to see the size for the sleeves!

Cut out four rectangles of some gorgeous fabric according to the measurements for the size you desire.
(You can do all four rectangles in the same fabric or pick a coordinating fabric for the sleeves.)
Fold the rectangles in half wrong sides together and stack the four rectangles on top of each other.
You will have eight pieces to cut through.
Cut a "J" shaped notch into the top left corner of all eight pieces of fabric (you don't want to cut the folded side). The "J" shape should be at least two inches across and starting around 3 inches long and make it a little longer if the dress is a larger size. I have to try and find the templates and get them uploaded...but eyeballing it should work okay!
Take one sleeve piece and one body piece and sew the notch part with right sides together
If you have a serger use it to serge the edge otherwise just use a zig zag stitch near the edge.

Repeat this process with all four pieces that you cut the notch out of making sure to fit the sleeves on properly.

You should have a piece that looks like this when you finish these steps.

Then fold the dress in half right sides together and sew from the end of the arm all the way down to the end of dress.
Follow up with a zig-zag stitch or use your serger again.

Don't worry, I know it looks gi-normous but it'll get better! I promise!!

Fold the top edge 1/4 inch and then 1/2 inch to create a casing for your elastic.

Sew close to the edge of the 1/4 inch fold to secure the casing but make sure to leave an opening so you can get your elastic in there.
Once you get your elastic in, sew it together and then close your opening.
I like to sew a small vertical line through the elastic just to make sure it stays in place and doesn't flip over on me.
I sew that line close to where the sleeve fabric meets the body fabric so no one can see it.

There are a number of different ways to do the's my way.
I like to add some elastic to the sleeves but don't like to just have a small casing for elastic at the bottom.
I took it one step further and left a little extra fabric to sort of make a ruffle.
So, start by making the 1/4 inch fold then make a bigger fold like 2-3 inches and iron it down.
Then sew the first line about 2 inches in depending on how big you want your ruffle to be.
Then sew close to the edge of 1/4 inch fold to create the casing, again making sure to leave room to insert the elastic.

Insert the elastic, sew it together and then close the opening of your casing.

I hate to hem I usually try to find a way around it.
With these dresses I just added some ribbon to the bottom of the dress.
Sew the ribbon to the wrong side of the dress then fold it around to the front and top stitch it down.
I don't have this down to a science yet but it works.

That was clear as mud hey?
Let me know if you have any questions.
Leave any questions in the comment section and I'll try and answer them as best I can!

Stand back and admire your work.
Try it on your little model and see how it fits.
If it's made to be a size bigger than your child wears (like mine is here)
then just tell yourself that it won't look so much like a pillowcase when the bigger kid wears it! Or add a ribbon around the waist to give it more structure!

You can also sew in some fabric "ribbons" that can be tied in the front or the back. Just make the ties by sewing a piece right sides together and turning out. Then pin them to the dress before you sew down the sides. Make sure to back stitch over the ties so they stay put!
They can be tied in the front or the back!

You can also make something cute for their hair to go with their cute dress!
Like I did so go with these other peasant dresses that I made...

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