A peasant dress in a child or adult size is an ideal sewing project for beginners. A peasant dress requires only a few seams, but requires that you hem and sew a casing for elastic or a drawstring. Once you master the basic peasant dress, you can experiment with shaping, adding embellishments and details or altering the pattern. Even an intermediate sewer may enjoy making a peasant dress as a quick and easy project.
Wash and dry your fabric. Iron it before cutting out the peasant-dress pattern.
Lay out the pattern, lining up the pattern pieces with the fabric print at the seam lines if necessary. Pin the peasant-dress pieces into place on the fabric, and then cut a front piece and back piece on the fold of the fabric. Cut two sleeves, either short or long as your pattern indicates or as you prefer.
Place one sleeve piece on the bodice front, with the right or printed sides of the fabric together. Line up the neckline edges of the fabric. Sew the sleeve seam. Stitch the back bodice to the sleeve with the outside of the fabric together. Repeat for the remaining sleeve. Leave a 5/8-inch seam allowance if you are using a typical commercial pattern.
Iron the sleeve seams open. Press the top edge of the peasant dress under 1/4 inch toward the wrong side forming a narrow hem. Press again, 1/2 inch from the fold. Repeat for the hem of each sleeve.
Stitch the neckline casing on your peasant dress, sewing close to the bottom fold. Leave a small opening to insert elastic. Stitch the sleeve hems as you did the neckline casing.
Attach a safety pin to the end of a long piece of elastic. Thread this through the neckline casing. Adjust to the desired size and cut. Stitch the ends of the elastic together and sew the opening closed by machine. Thread elastic through the sleeve hems and stitch at each end if desired.
Sew the side seams of your peasant dress from the finished sleeve edge to the hemline on both sides. Press these seams open.
Turn up the bottom hem by 1/4 inch and iron. Turn up again 1 inch from the fold. Stitch near the first pressed edge to hem your peasant dress. Adjust the hem if appropriate for your peasant dress pattern.
Serge or zigzag stitch around each piece of fabric before you sew your peasant dress to finish the seams. Pinking shears can be used to cut out the peasant dress to finish seams and cut in one step.