I’ve wanted to sew a peasant blouse for the entire summer. Wait, longer than that. It’s definitely been more than a year. Maybe make that two years. Okay whatever, as long as I’ve been sewing regularly, I’ve wanted to make peasant blouses. So this summer was finally The Time.
But boy, I never seemed to find the time to go to the store and procure 1/4″ wide elastic! Which sounds perfectly ridiculous since in the months I’ve been pining over a peasant blouse I could have ordered some online, but that’s besides the point. I didn’t have elastic, so I couldn’t sew a peasant blouse.
And thus within a day of finally getting my hands on elastic, I whipped up this blouse.
The fabric is a poly/cotton shirting from fabric.com (they’re out of the 1/4″ checks but have 1/8″ checks in stock and it’s probably the same fabric otherwise). Nothing special, but a nice lightweight fabric for summer. I’m definitely thinking of picking up some other color ginghams, I love gingham so much but have yet to sew anything in it until now!
I didn’t have a pattern, so I followed an older tutorial from Things of Cloth on how to make an adult-sized peasant blouse. Actually, that’s a lie. I definitely had at least one vintage pattern, but just felt like going ahead and drafting my own really basic one instead of fussing with a pattern. (Ever have those moments?!)
Although ‘drafting’ is using the term loosely, it was pretty simple. Here’s what the pieces look like. Yep, just a raglan sleeve and a bodice.
You can see it’s a very basic shape. Perfect for tucking in, although it would be cute untucked with capris, perhaps!
(Sorry, my basement sewing area isn’t an exciting backdrop.)
If you check out the tutorial you’ll see my pattern piece shaping is pretty close to hers, but there’s one major caveat I didn’t consider until I had the sleeves attached to the body: I definitely need to fix the neckline shape as I had pointy bits at the center front of my bodice and sleeves. Which, if you look at my pieces, I’d obviously have. Duh. A fix for next time! (Although lopping it off the fabric worked just fine.)
(Btw what the hell, I swear my feet shrank because all my clogs are now too big in the back. Or they always have been like that and I’m just now noticing. Either way, I don’t like this development, but it wont stop me from wearing them!)
Anyway, the tutorial is pretty easy to follow, although I had to improvise in a few spots that weren’t clear to me. I based the armhole depth and the body width on a vintage peasant blouse from my own closet, of course taking seam allowances into consideration.
With the neckline curve, there was absolutely no way I could have folded the neckline seam allowance in twice to make the casing for the elastic, as the tutorial suggests, so instead I used bias tape as the casing. Just as easy as it seems like it would be—you sew the tape to the right side, fold in, top stitch, and leave about an inch open to feed the elastic through with a pin. Then try it on and fiddle with it until you like how much it’s cinched up, and cut the elastic to that length. Sew the ends of the elastic together, and then sew shut the hole you left in the casing. I think I initially cut a piece of elastic about 28″ and cut off at least 6″ in the end.
Next time I’d make self bias tape instead of purchased as it’s a bit scratchy, but this was a quick and dirty project and a kind of wearable muslin of sorts. Also, because I used the tape right at the neckline edge, if the tape is made from your main fabric you wouldn’t see the very edge of it when the elastic cinches up. Which doesn’t matter since mine is white and one of the colors of the fabric, but word to the wise if you want to go with contrasting. (In that case you could always finish the neckline in a different way and put the casing a little lower, to give a slight ruffle above the elastic. That would actually be really cute!)
I knew the neckline would likely be too high, but I wanted to just try the instructions first and then make further tweaks on future versions. Because let’s face it, I adore peasant blouses. They’re one of my favorite wardrobe staples. And I’m probably going to make an army of these!
To hem the sleeves and bodice, I went super simple. I serged the raw edge, folded up the hem and top stitched. For such a basic and light blouse, I don’t mind this treatment at all! I could have made the sleeves elasticized like the neckline, but I opted to leave them open. (I’m a fan of both variations.)
And I must admit, while I didn’t do a very good job of matching the print at the raglan line (I only halfway tried, honestly), the side seams are nearly spot on! I didn’t try to match the actual checks, but just made sure the horizontal lines were matched.
Incidentally, I’m trying out different glasses with my new hair color. My vintage frames look the best, but I’m discovering my 40s-styled frames that are nearly black usually look too harsh now! Every time I try them on, I make a sour face.
I do like this pair I’m wearing here, but they keep getting loose in spite of having them tightened, so I don’t wear them that much. So I still favor my vintage specs, although I’m really overdue for a new pair.
Overall I’m very pleased about this simple little blouse! I know I’ll wear this a ton. Not only am I happy that it’s another peasant blouse in my closet, but I’m happy about the bigger picture: it knocks something off my sewing list that’s been on there for ages. I’ve wanted a good, basic peasant blouse pattern that I could tinker with endlessly, and now I have one.
Bring on the army of peasant blouses! What variations do you think I should try??