How to Make a Peasant Blouse
The women’s shirt known as a peasant blouse is a staple in any “working class” outfit dating from the late 1400s to at least the middle 1700s. The peasant blouse also saw a return in popularity during the 1960s and is appropriate for pirate wench, colonial American, renaissance maiden, gypsy and "Summer of Love" costumes. A peasant blouse is also comfortable and easy to make, consider adding one or more to your weekend or casual work wardrobe.
Things You'll Need
- Ribbon 1-inch wide
- Sewing machine
- Measuring tape
- Ironing board
- Elastic – ¼-inch wide
- Thin cord
Choose your fabric. If you are going for the authentic “peasant” look, you will need off-white or light tan material with a slightly rustic appearance. Unbleached muslin works well. If you are making a blouse for a gypsy costume, choose a bright color such as purple or green. If you are making a peasant blouse for your own wardrobe, you can choose any color or pattern you like. You will need three yards.
Cut out your body pieces. A peasant blouse is four rectangles: one for the front, one for the back, and one for each sleeve. The width of your front and back rectangles combined should be roughly twice your width at your widest point -- bust, hip, or waist. Determine how long you want your blouse to be (hip length is recommended) and measure yourself. Add 4 inches to the length and width.
Determine your sleeve length by measuring your arms from halfway between your neck and your shoulder to your wrist. Add 4 inches. A general width for peasant blouse sleeves is 22 inches – or roughly one-half the width of a piece of 45-inch-wide fabric.
Cut the 4 pieces from the fabric.
Sew the sleeves on. Take your front piece and one sleeve piece. Align the front and one sleeve side edges, right sides together. Pin along the side about 10 inches from the top and sew only that 10 inches. Press open with your iron. Attach the the other sleeve piece edge to the back piece. Attach the other sleeve to the remaining front and back side edges.
Stitch the side seams. Pin the front and back side seams together up from the bottom hem to the end of the 10-inch seam. Repeat on the other side. Stitch these seams and iron them open.
Hem the blouse. Fold over one-quarter inch along the bottom hem of the peasant blouse and iron. Fold over another one-quarter inch and iron. Stitch as close to the edge of the fold as possible.
Finish the neck. Fold over one-quarter inch along the top of the blouse, including the tops of the sleeves and iron. Fold over another 2 inches and iron. Stitch as close to the edge of the fold as possible, leaving an inch or two unsewn in the center of the front piece.
Determine how low you want the neck of your blouse to hang – off one shoulder, off both shoulders, or maybe a modest halfway between your neck and shoulders. Measure that length with a fabric measuring tape and cut your thin cord that length plus an extra 8 to 12 inches for a bow. Thread your thin cord through the casing you just stitched. Once the cord is threaded all the way through, tie the ends into a bow to keep them from slipping back into the casing.
Finish the sleeves. To hem the sleeves, fold over one-quarter inch all around the end of the sleeves and iron. Fold over another quarter inch and iron. Stitch as close to the fold edge as possible.
Pin the ribbon to the wrong side (inside) of the sleeve 2 to 3 inches up from the hem. Stitch as close to both edges as possible, leaving an opening either in the side stitching or where the two ends of the tape meet. Measure a piece of one-quarter-inch elastic big enough to fit around your wrist and/or forearm comfortably plus 1 inch. Thread the elastic through the casing and stitch the elastic ends together. Hand stitch the opening closed.
- Peasant blouses are large and full, so a medium weight cotton or cotton/polyester blend will work well without being too bulky.
- Pre-wash your fabric to prevent shrinking later.