Flowing smock dresses, also known as peasant dresses, are flattering on many different body types. These short dresses are as comfortable as they are versatile and stylish. Instead of paying retail prices for smock dresses, beginners with a little sewing experience can create their own summer look. Follow these instructions.
Find a smock dress or peasant dress pattern that you like. You can use a pattern from a commercial company, such as Vogue 2978, or you can download one of the free online patterns in the Resources section.
Determine the size pattern you will need for your smock dress by taking your measurements with the measuring tape. Measure your bust, waist and hips to get a general sense of the size you need, then match the largest measurement to the pattern. Take your armhole depth measurement, and measure the distance between your shoulder and the skirt hem. Then compare these measurements to the pattern to see if you have to make adjustments. If the pattern has sleeves, compare the sleeve length measurements as well. Adjust as necessary.
Cut the pattern from the paper, and pin it to a double layer of fabric. Cut four of the sleeve piece and two of the front and back pieces. If the pattern has belt, neckline or cuffs, cut these as directed. Press all fabric pieces before stitching.
Pin the sleeve pieces to the back bodice piece along the armhole line, right sides together. Stitch it in place, following the seam allowance measurement for the pattern. Press and finish the seams as desired, either by zigzag stitching or serging. Fold the sleeve pieces to the inside of the bodice, lining the opposite sleeve curves against the armhole line. Lay the front bodice piece, right side down, on top of the back bodice piece, lining it up against the armhole. Pin together the open armhole lines together, and stitch in place. Press and finish the seams.
Pull the sleeves out of the armholes so all right sides are together. Pin together the side seams, from the sleeve hem to the dress hem, and stitch the seams in place. Press and finish the seams. Turn under the sleeve and dress bottom hems and stitch in place. Press the hems flat. If the smock dress includes any neckline banding, pin and stitch the banding to the neckline, leaving the back open about 3 inches. Otherwise, turn the neckline under and stitch in place, leaving the back open 3 inches.
Attach the elastic to a large safety pin, and thread it through the 3-inch opening, pushing the elastic all the way around the banding until it comes out the other side. Stitch together the ends of the elastic, then push the elastic into the banding, and stitch the opening closed. Finish any accessories, such as belts or other elastic casings.