Peasant style blouses are basically easy to make.
The ‘classic’ version of these blouses has a gathered neckline. So there has to be some sort of casing, which can hold either elastic or a drawstring to pull up the gathers. (I’ve put some similar styles which do not have this casing neckline in a final section.)
And raglan sleeves, also the easiest way of applying sleeves.
(See the sleeves post for some general diagrams of raglan sleeves.)
As there are easy ways of making a casing, most of the patterns here are beginner/ advanced beginner in difficulty.
But there’s not just one way of making this neckline. Peasant styles can have a wide variety of neckline finishes, different ways of making the gathered neckline. Which is an example of the general point that in clothes making there can be many different ways of getting a similar effect.
In dressmaking there are also many ways of adding sleeves, adding collars, adding pockets, adding zips. Perhaps that is why these are Intermediate skills !
These alternatives usually vary in difficulty, so can be learned slowly as you make clothes. You haven’t got to take them all in at the same time !
The casings post illustrates the almost infinite number of ways there are for making a casing,
The patterns below illustrate some of the ways of adding a casing to a peasant blouse neckline, in approximate order of difficulty.
A couple of these suggestions are patterns I haven’t seen, so I may have guessed wrong about how the casing is made. There are other indie peasant style patterns that I haven’t mentioned because it’s impossible to tell, without seeing the pattern instructions, how the casing is made.
For sizing of tops, there are two important bust measurements : the body measure around the bust, and the finished garment measure at bust level. As most peasant style tops are gathered, they have quite a lot of ‘ease’ (the difference between body and garment measures). So they may be wearable by larger people than the size chart says. As most patterns only give the body bust measure for their sizes, I have not often been able to comment on this possibility.
‘Cut-on and fold in’ casing
The simplest version of this casing is the first example in the casings post.
Similar to making a hem. And used for many waistbands of pyjama pants. So if you’ve made those this is not much of a new skill, and you can make one of these tops without difficulty.
The Rosebud raglan top in Daisy Braid’s Sew It Yourself book is like this.
This very easy casing is possible on a top if the pattern neckline edge is nearly straight, as on the Friday Pattern Co. Wilder top and dress.
(sleeve in centre, half of front and back to either side.)
That makes this top
This style has an added frill above the casing. So it’s not quite as straightforward as sewing a hem, it’s like the first method under ‘Casings in the middle of fabric’ in the casings post.
(red is stitching)
It is quite easy to adjust the pattern pieces to make this top/dress without the frill.
This pattern is so easy to make and so attractive that it went wildly viral when it first appeared. With video sew-along. Pdf or paper pattern, up to 50″ body bust.
You also need to know how to gather to make the dress version.
There are some halter-top patterns which have a similar easy casing at the top of front and back, but no raglan sleeves.
This one, like Wilder, has a frill above the casing. The Sussex Seamstress Selsey top is a halter top gathered at the neckline by casing and tie. Pdf or paper pattern. Up to 50″ body bust, with sew-along video.
The suggested fabrics may be slippery, and so difficult to cut out and sew. Best to use something drapey but not slippery for a first garment, such as lawn or voile.
If you’re not ready to make your own drawstring, you could use tape or ribbon.
Lengthen to tunic, mini dress, maxi (without adding gathered strips, so measure the pattern width to check it will go over both your bust and hips).
Edge casing made by a separate facing strip
Here’s a general facings post.
In faced neckline patterns for peasant tops, the quality of the facing matters less than the quality of most facings, because the gathers hide any flaws there may be in the making 😀
This neckline is made with straight facing strips :
Alexandra Genetti’s raglan blouse, pdf instructions, no pattern, made from rectangles cut to measurements. One size, up to about 70″ body bust.
The Mahdu pattern shows that you get a frill automatically by the technique used to add the facing, no need to add in a narrow frill/ ruffle. As there’s a seam at the neckline edge, there’s opportunity to add in trim, such as lace edging or flat broderie anglaise, possibly fringe or pom-poms. Don’t try to insert trims that won’t gather, such as pre-gathered broderie anglaise, piping, or pearls.
Casing made with an added band
The Agnes top-dress from Sew Girl has a straight band with elastic at the neckline, raglan sleeves, optional gathered sleeve hem.
Written instructions (not with her usual generous construction photos).
YouTube tutorial, from 2 hours.
Bias facing used to make casing.
I’m generally against using a bias strip as a facing, see this post for discussion and instructions. But it is easier on a peasant style blouse – because the result is gathered, any poor quality of the bias strip application won’t be visible 😀
Magic Pattern book, pattern C – the neckline shape is nearly straight so using a bias strip facing will not cause as many problems as when the bias strip tried to go round a curve. Kindle or paperback book, both with pdf patterns.
6 variations of the pattern, elastic or drawstring gathering. Finished garment bust up to 54″.
In the Purl Soho raglan top, gathering is done by elastic in the added bias strip band (this is more like bias binding, it’s not entirely behind the main fabric as in a bias facing). This style also has a back neck slit with button-loop closure. Pdf pattern up to 50″ body bust. (This top obviously has an added neck band, and the pattern information mentions using a bias tape maker, so I’ve guessed how this neckline is done.)
Burda 6502 View B has a similar neckline band so I assume it’s made in a similar way. Paper pattern, up to 48″ bust.
Fabric strip as casing, added in middle of fabric
See second method under ‘Casings in the middle of fabric’ near the end of the casings post – casing made from a fabric strip applied in the middle of the main fabric.
This method is used to make the neckline gathers in a peasant blouse from PaperScissorsFrocks, pdf pattern up to 41″ body bust.
Some Big4 patterns
These patterns have gathered neckline and raglan sleeves. They don’t mention bias tape in the notions-needed lists, so I don’t know how the casings are made. Paper patterns.
McCall’s 6558, off-the-shoulder dresses up to 46″ body bust.
McCall’s 7405, halter neck dress with choice of hemlines, up to 48″ body bust.
Butterick 4685, top with neckline, sleeve, waist and trim variations up to 44″ body bust.
Butterick 6455, top with sleeve variations, up to 48″ body bust.
Some options for ‘boho’ style without neckline gathers into a casing
These are examples of relaxed/ rustic styles that have gathers elsewhere in the design, and often have raglan sleeves.
Spring/summer 2023 : this style is ‘on trend’ so have fun with it 😀
Gathers into a band
The Roscoe blouse/ dress by True Bias has gathers into a neckline band so there are not actual gathers at the neckline edge, plus raglan sleeves. Paper or pdf pattern, up to body bust of 58″.
I haven’t seen this pattern. I have seen a similar pattern (from a subscription service) which gets the gathers to the correct length by basting them to tearaway embroidery stabiliser, before adding the band that will hold them permanently in place.
The Amaya shirt from Made My Wardrobe has big gathered ruffles on the raglan sleeves. Finished garment bust up to 60″. The neckline is made the same way as the Roscoe blouse, again there’s a template for setting the length of the neck gathers.
A good option for making from an old tablecloth – place body and lower sleeve patterns to use edge of table cloth as hem.
The Photinia top-dress from Fibr & Cloth has a variety of necklines, including gathered into a band. Also a variety of sleeves, and several hacks.
The Closet Core Nicks pattern has many gathers at yoke, sleeves, skirt. With fitted sleeves, and a V-neckline which looks as if in some views it’s finished with true facing, in some views with bias facing. Finished garment bust up to 73.5″.
The 5 out of 4 Renee pattern has bound neckline (only sleeves are gathered into it), raglan sleeves, and choice of how many gathered skirt tiers.
The Romey raglan dress/ top from Sew House 7 patterns, has front neck slit (in a seam), gathered sleeves and skirt, pdf pattern up to body bust of 57″, photo and youtube tutorials.
It has a (ungathered) bias strip facing as the neckline finish. As their photo tutorial shows – their method, like most, does not give a flat result. For notes on getting a better result with bias strip facing, see this post.
There’s a Sewing Street video on making this dress, from 1hr5min.
Helen’s Closet March top and dress has dropped shoulder sleeves, princess seams, front neck slit, gathers at sleeve head and waist but not neckline, neckline band and tie. Pdf pattern up to body bust of 54″. Said to be Intermediate in difficulty – because of the front slit I’m guessing it has a facing-finished neckline. (Here’s a post on getting a good result at the bottom of that neckline slit.)
The Sew Different Ripple dress is similar but simpler.
How do you feel about making one of these ?
Is a peasant/smock style too folksy to appeal to you ?
Or would you like it as a way of making tops without having to be able to do more complex neckline finishing techniques in a way that’s good enough to stand up to being fully visible – such as a true facing or a bias strip facing. Instead any wonky results are hidden in gathers – hurrah 😀
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