Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tiered Peasant Dress Tutorial

So I made this peasant dress the other day, and I'm kinda in love with it.

I decided to make a tutorial for all you lovely people!
Let's get started! This tutorial is for about a 2T/3T. It is pretty heavy on the pictures, because I know when I'm reading tutorials I like he ones with LOTS of pictures. Oh, and please forgive the terrible pictures.  All my sewing is pretty much done after 9 pm when the kiddo is asleep so I don't have much in the way of light to work with. 
I'm using three fabrics for my dress.
 We're going to call the grey fabric Fabric 1, the yellow fabric is Fabric 2, the black fabric is Fabric 3.

I left all my fabric folded as it was on the bolt, so selvedge to selvedge to make cutting easier.

Cut 2 6"x44" inch rectangles of Fabric 1.

Then cut 1 6"x36" inch rectangle of Fabric 1.
 Here are the 3 pieces of Fabric 1. They don't look as long because they are folded in half since I cut them with the fold from the bolt. 

Next you need to cut:
1 6"x44" of Fabric 3
1 6"x36" of Fabric 2
2 5"x18" of Fabric 2

 All your pieces cut out!

Now take your 2 6"x44" pieces of Fabric 1 and put them right sides together.  Sew (I've got a serger so I serged) along 1 of the short edges, so you now have a 6"x88" rectangle of Fabric 1.
Then you need to hem one of the long edges.  I'm using the rolled hem stitch on my machine, you could use whatever method you prefer.  If you are folding it under and sewing you will want to factor that in when you are cutting this, so maybe do 7" instead of 6".

I like to get all my hemming out of the way at once, so now you need the 2 5"x18" pieces of  Fabric 2.  Hem 1 of the 18" sides on each piece.

 Here's all your hemmed pieces. The 2 pieces of Fabric 2, and the 1 super long piece of Fabric 1.

Now we are going to gather the super long piece of Fabric 1. You can do this a couple ways.  I like it to do it by cranking up the top tension of my Brother CS6000i and setting the stitch length to it's longest.  There are other ways of gathering out there if you prefer a different method.  I don't know how this method will work on other machines, I've only tried it on this Brother machine.

It gives me a nice pretty gather.
It doesn't usually end up the perfect length, so I have to adjust the gathers a bit, hold onto the bottom thread and move the fabric along until it is the same length as your piece of Fabric 3. 

Then flip the piece of Fabric 3 over on top of the gathered piece of Fabric 1 so they are right sides together and sew along that top edge.
So then you have 1 piece of fabric made up of your 2 strips of Fabric 1 and Fabric 3. 

Now you want to gather of the top of Fabric 3, just like you did with Fabric 1. If you do it the way I did with the machine it is going to come out more gathered than you want. You want it the same length as your 6"x36" piece of  Fabric 2.
No problem, just spread it out.  It won't be nearly as gathered as Fabric 1 was. 
Now sew it to the bottom piece the same as you did before.  Flip Fabric 2 down so it's right sides together with your other piece, and sew it together.


Here's what you've got! (folded in half wrong sides together)

Now you want to fold it half right sides together and sew along the side edge. Congrats! You just finished the skirt section of the dress!

Time to move on to the bodice part.

Take your remaining 6"x36" piece of Fabric 1 and cut it in half so you have 2 6"x18" pieces.  Fold them in half "hamburger" style and set one right on top of the other, the folds on the same side.  Then take your 2 5"x18" pieces of Fabric 2 and fold them in half "hamburger" style and place them on top of your folded pieces of Fabric 1.

^All four pieces of fabric, fold on the same side, and you want the RAW edge of your Fabric  2 pieces at the top, and the hemmed edge on the bottom.

Now we are going to make the arm holes.  I do mine differently than I've read on other peasant dress tutorials.  The ones I've read always do them where you cut a J shape.  I don't like doing it like that.  It confuses me and I worry I'll do it wrong and it won't fit or something like that.

Okay, so with all your pieces stacked up nicely we are going to cut a Right Triangle off the top right hand corner.  NOT ON THE FOLD!

For this size of dress I cut it so it is 3" wide at the top (o so the base of the triangle is 3" if you wanna use geometry terms) and then the "height" of the triangle is 5 inches.

Or in other words, from the bottom corner of Fabric 2 to 3" in from the top.  Or if I'm just confusing you with my explanation, you can just check out the picture.


 Now unfold them and instead of 4 rectangular pieces you are going to have 4 trapezoids.

Take 1 piece of Fabric 1 and 1 piece of Fabric 2 and line them up at the top, right sides together.

Now sew along the diagonal line. Once you do that, this is what you should have.  

Now take your other Fabric 1 piece, and line it up wrong sides together with the Fabric 2 piece you already sewed. Sew along the diagonal line. Then repeat with your last Fabric 2 piece.

Once that's done, this is what you should have.

Now you need to prepare the elastic casing.  I serge the top edge, then fold over and  and iron.


I guess I skipped a picture, I'm sorry.  After you iron down where your casing will be, unfold it and line up the loose ends of your bodice together, the edge of Fabric 1 and Fabric 2. Sew down the diagonal.

Here's what you've got so far, turned right side out. Now flip it back right-side in. Now we're going to sew that little edge of Fabric 1.

 Just that little bit right there.  From the bottom of the sleeve to the bottom of the bodice.

Once you've got that sewn, turn it right side out again and now you can sew down the elastic casing. Don't forget to leave an opening to put the elastic in.

 Here's our bodice all sewn up with the elastic casing finished.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to sew the casing where the fabrics meet at an angle and have it look "pretty". They always end up bunched and weird like this.

But it never makes a difference in the final product.  You can't tell at all once the elastic is threaded through. So I don't worry about it.  

Okay now this part, I don't know if I'll be able to explain it very well so some knowledge of garment constrcution would come in handy.  And now that I think about it, I'm sure there is a much easier way of doing this, but this is how I did it when taking pictures.  Next one I make I will do it a different way and take pics.

But here are our two pieces.  The bodice and the skirt.

Now you're going to want to turn the bodice inside out and flip it upside down.

Now you want to put the top part of the skirt INSIDE the upside down and inside out bodice.

It will be layered like this: Front bodice, front skirt, back skirt, back bodice. Right sides of the fronts together, right sides of the backs together.

Sew around the tube, so you're only sewing two layers, one layer of bodice and one layer of skirt.  Just sew around the top and you'll end right where you started.

You're awesome!

Now to Shir.  I am assuming you know how to shir.  If you don't, there is tons of tutorials out there on it.

I like to start my shirring just a little bit below the sleeve, and then go down a little bit into the top part of the skirt piece. 

Now all that is left is to thread your elastic through the top.  How much elastic you use is dependent on how much gathering you like.  I almost always use less than 1/2 of  the measurement of the entire neckline.  So say the neckline is 36" (just saying, I have no idea what it actually is.).  Half would be 18", I probably use about 15" of elastic.

So thread your elastic, close up the opening, trim any loose thread tails you might have missed, press any seams you want pressed, and you're finished!


I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I made everything easy to understand!  I'll try to answer any questions you might have, just let me know!


Thank you for sharing this tutorial! I am hoping to make it for my daughter in the next few days :)
hi, I just made this dress and figured out how to fix sewing around the diagonal corner connecting the sleeves to the bodice. There are two ways to do it. What I did was cut 1.5 inch bias tape and added it to the raw edge, and used that to fold over for the elastic casing and the bias goes around the corner nicely. The other thing you could do is before you cut the armhole, fold over the top where the casing will be. That way when you cut the armhole, there will be an extra bit of fabric that will fold nicely into the diagonal corners.

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