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Modern Peasant Dress Tutorial (peasant dress pattern hack)

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Learn how to make this modern version of the basic Peasant Dress.

This dress is made with the peasant dress pattern, cut at the waistline with a gathered skirt. The arms are slightly longer with puffier sleeves, and the waist is gathered with a sash. 

Modern Peasant Dress

Peasant Dress Pattern Variations

If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that I have a little “pattern re-mix” theme going on with my peasant dress pattern, which I shared a few months ago.

By modifying the basic Peasant Dress Pattern, I have made the:

It only took a few simple changes to make this modern-style peasant dress, and it is a great way to showcase several cute fabrics.

When I first spotted this Riley Blake Chevron fabric back in January, I loved it and immediately ordered a yard!  At the time, I didn’t have any specific plans for the fabric, but I knew I had to have it for spring.

Unfortunately, we are getting to the size/point where one yard of fabric really isn’t enough to make a dress with a full skirt. On top of that, the chevrons in this chevron fabric run up and down instead of side to side, which made it impossible to squeeze out a bodice and/or sleeves.

I had the toughest time deciding which coordinating fabrics to use. I pulled out at least 15 different colors and prints and several fat quarters before I decided to use the pink and white polka dot and yellow floral fabrics in this dress. My craft room is still a disaster from all that pulled fabric.

Are you ready to see how to “re-mix” the basic peasant dress to make this Modern Peasant version?

I did not take many photos while sewing the dress, so I am supplementing with photos and instructions from the original Peasant dress tutorial.  (I thought that would be easier than making you flip back and forth too much between the two tutorials for the directions. –  So you will see the photos switching back and forth between two fabrics.)

The first tutorial has a lot of details. If you are a beginning sewer, it might not hurt to review the original. Here is the link.

Materials needed:

  • up to 2 yards of fabric (3/4 for the skirt, 1/2 for the bodice and sleeves and 2/3 for the sash <you could use less if you don’t mind the seam being right in the front>)
  • 1/4 inch Elastic
  • elastic thread to shirr the sleeve
  • Peasant Dress pattern (any peasant dress/top pattern will work – here is my free peasant dress pattern)
  • fabric marker or fabric chalk
  • scissors, ruler
  • iron
  • basic sewing supplies

 *** Important pattern printing tip*** When printing the patterns, do not print from your PC’s version of a PDF reader. For the pattern to print at the proper size, you must download the pattern to your computer and open it in the free Adobe Acrobat reader.  Choose the actual size and the auto landscape/portrait. If you don’t use the Adobe Reader, there is a good chance your pattern will print too small.

Modern Pesant Sewing Instructions:

(all seam allowances are 1/4 inch unless otherwise stated.)

Step 1: Print pattern pieces and cut them out and tape them together.

Measure 2 to 3 inches down ( 2 for smaller sizes, 3 for larger) from the bottom of the armscye. Draw a line across the pattern at this point and cut off the bottom of the dress. (This gives you the upper bodice only needed to make this “modern-style ” peasant dress.)

Step 2: Measure for skirt length.

For the perfect length, measure your child from armpit to desired dress length and subtract 2 or 3 (depending on if you cut the bodice at 2 or 3 inches) from this measurement.

If you don’t have a child to measure, here are some guesstimates- though it wouldn’t hurt to add an inch or two to my numbers to be safe, since you can always shorten the dress.

  • 12-18 mo: 13.5 to 15 inches
  • 2t: 16 inches,
  • 3t: 17 inches,
  • 4:  18.5 inches,
  • 5: 20 inches,
  • 6: 21.5 inches.
  • 7:  23 inches

*(Every child is different, and these numbers are only guesstimates, so please use your measurements if possible.)

Step 3:  Cutting the fabric

In the Modern Peasant dress, we will be adding a separate gathered skirt.

Fold the fabric for the bodice and sleeve and place the pattern on the fold of the fabric. (Fold the fabric selvage to selvage- here is a link to a photo of how the fabric should be folded)

A.  To make the sleeve puffier and neckline higher, you will need to add 7/8 inch to the top of the sleeve and bodice pattern for sizes 2 to 7 and 1/2 inch for 12 to 18 months.

B.  To make the sleeve longer, we need to add length to the bottom of the sleeve.  Extend the bottom of the sleeve 3.5 inches for sizes 2 to 7 and 2 inches for 12 to 18 months.

Cut out 2 sleeves, a front bodice piece and back bodice piece, adding the specified length.

Cut out 2 skirt panels:

  • 12 to 18 mo: 27 wide by your length measurement
  • 2t to 33: 32 wide by your length measurement
  • 4 to 7:  34 inches wide by your length measurement

Step 5: Assemble the bodice and sleeves.

Right sides together, line up the sleeve edges with the arm hole edges of the bodice front.  Sew along this seam (marked in blue) and finish the edge with a serger, zig zag stitch or Pinking Shears.

Grab the back dress piece and line up the other sleeve edges and sew the arm/sleeve edges the same way

When you are done with this step the pieces will connect like below.

Next, line up the front and back pieces and sew down the sleeve edge all the way to the bottom of the bodice.  Do both sides and finish the seam edge with your preferred method.

Step 6: Gathering, attaching, and hemming the skirt.

Next, right sides together, sew the two skirt panels together at the sides and finish the edge with a serger, zig zag stitch or pinking shears.  Iron these seams flat.

To gather the top of the skirt, set your sewing machine to the longest stitch width and sew a basting stitch all the way around the top of the skirt.  Pull on the bobbin thread and gather the skirt fabric up until it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice.

Right sides together, pin the gathered skirt to the bodice and sew right along the gathered edge.  Finish the edge with a serger, zig zag stitch or pinking shears.  (I have some better instructions and photos of the gathering process in my sweet spring sundress tutorial.)

Flip the skirt right side out and press this seam.

To hem the bottom edge of the dress, just fold  the bottom edge over 1/4 inch, press, fold over another 1/4 inch press again and sew along the folded edge.

Step 7: Creating the neckline casing: 

To create the neck casing, fold the edge of the neckline in 1/4 inch and press.  Fold the neckline over another half inch and press again.  Use pins if needed, but be careful not to melt your pin-heads!

Stitch along the edge of the casing, a scant 1/8 inch from the folded edge.  Leave a 1.5-inch opening in the casing to insert the elastic.

Cut your elastic according to this guide.  (Keep in mind you may want to cinch up your neckline more or less depending on how the dress is fitting:)

  • 12 to 18 months: 11 to 13 inches
  • 2t/3t: 12 to 15 inches
  • 4/6: 15 to 17 inches
  • 7: 15 to 18 inches

Attach a safety pin to the edge of the elastic and thread the elastic through the casing. Have your model try on your dress if possible and make any needed adjustments.

Sew the elastic ends together (Be careful not to twist them) using a wide zigzag stitch and trim any excess elastic.  Finish sewing the elastic casing closed.

Step 8:  Sleeve finishing options:

To finish the sleeves of your peasant dress, you can choose to shirr the sleeve edge or create a casing and add elastic.

First, finish the bottom hem of the sleeves with a narrow 1/4-inch hem. (Fold the bottom edge over 1/4 inch, press, fold over another 1/4 inch, press again, and sew along the folded edge—I opted for a rolled-edge hem.)

To shirr the sleeves, use elastic thread in the bobbin and regular thread in the needle and sew three lines of shirring 1/8 inch apart,  1 7/8 inch from the edge of the sleeve. (If you need more information on how to shirr, you can find one in my simple shirred sundress tutorial.)

Step 9:  Sewing the sash.

I didn’t get any photos of this step, so I made the image below to help you visualize how to assemble the sash…

And that is it!  You are done with the Modern Peasant Dress!

Every year, we head out to find the best bluebonnet patches in the neighborhood and get pictures.

What little girl doesn’t love flowers?

Share Your Finished Project!

If you make this dress, please leave a review in the comments section below. If you share an image on Instagram, be sure to tag me and use #scatteredmompatterns! You can also share an image in my private Facebook sewing group, we love seeing all the different projects!

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  1. Love the re-mix peasant dress!

  2. Thank you so much for the tutorial! i have made 3 dresses so far and i love all your help!

  3. I also wanted to know if you sew the sash to the dress

    1. I did not, but you could attach the sash at the side seams.

  4. Jennifer Granum says:

    Super cute dress! Do you sew the sash to the dress?

  5. D. Wallace says:

    Thank you for your wonderful post! I love the dress and am trying it out as a birthday gift for a little girl I know. I made the peasant dress for my daughter who is 1 yr old now. It was her birthday dress. I had a question about the sash instructions. Do you cut three separate pieces each measuring 26 3/4 in. or do they all together measure up to 26 3/4? I was unsure about that part. I'm anxious to see how it turns out and would love to show a photo to you after it is complete! Thank you for your time and again, for the wonderful dresses!

  6. Four Marrs and One Venus says:

    Beyond Adorable!

  7. Love the dress! and you did a nice tutorial….but I am wondering how you made the bow tie, I have grandsons and one in particular has taken to wearing bow ties to school! Thanks.

  8. I think this might be the cutest peasant dress I've ever seen! Love the changes you made and the fabrics you used!

  9. Tavleen Singh says:

    Nice tutorial.. This will be in my to do list !!!

  10. Sumo @ Sumo's Sweet Stuff says:

    This is so adorable! The colors are just bright and happy! I'll be featuring this on my blog tomorrow!


    Thanks for linking up!

  11. oh this dress is adorable! thank you so much for linking up to Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings. Make sure to come back next week! – Kristen http://www.ladybug-blessings.com

  12. Olga (Kid Approved) says:

    The dress looks great!

  13. Kathy Moody says:

    So adorable! Thanks for the great tutorial, too! Thank you so much for sharing at A Bouquet of Talent this week. Have a great day! 🙂

  14. Rachel {RandR Workshop} says:

    So colorful and bright!! Love the dress!
    Rachel from R & R Workshop

  15. Emily Thompson says:

    lovely!!! Your daughter always has the prettiest clothes :o) I came over from Ginger Snap… but I would love for you to link up to my party too! It will be open for another day :o)

  16. Love that dress and the bow tie to match! Your models are adorable. Wish I had your sewing ability 🙂

    I'd be thrilled if you'd link up at this week's Off the Hook!

  17. Bonny Yokeley says:

    I love the TX bluebonnets. I had to tell you that I pinned your original peasant dress tutorial a while back, and it has to be the most re-pinned item on any of my Pinterest boards. One of these days, I'm going to make these cute dresses!