Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peasant blouse pattern tutorial

I made this blouse last night and thought I have to share the pattern.  It's a really good project if you're new to sewing, as it has only 2 seams and could take less than an hour to make. Let's be realistic and call it two hours, since you'll be making your own pattern and bias binding.
Peasant girl digging in garden
The pattern was inspired by a Cotton On top I have, and instructions from an amazing vintage sewing book called 'Needlework for Girls' by Isabel Horner.This book was first published in 1950 and since it's out of print, I don't think it would be a problem to share a couple of pages with you.  I've put it up on Scribd so you can read it in PDF format.  

The top can be made from 1.5m of fabric, preferably something with a bit of drape and weight.  I used satin, but silk, chiffon or something similar would work well too.  I know it's not the easiest fabrics to work with if you're a new sewer, but as long as you overlock or zig-zag your edges you should be ok.  You will also need some narrow elastic (I used 3mm wide) and about 80cm of bias binding, 2.5cm wide. It's best to make your own using the remnants from your top.

First, you need to make your pattern.  I'm a size 12, so if you're a bit bigger or smaller than me, you're going to have to play around with these numbers (but mostly with width in the body, I expect).

Here are my measurements.  The total height of the pattern piece is 65cm and total width 70cm.  The width can be adjusted for shorter sleeves, but the sleeve length is restricted to the width of your fabric (the maximum width of the pattern piece will be half of the fabric width, which means your total blouse width will be the same as the total fabric width).

Draw this onto a large piece of paper (wrapping or kraft paper) and cut out.   

Now fold your fabric in half, top edge on bottom edge.  Fold this in half side-ways (selvedge to selvedge). You now have a square or rectangle with folds on two sides.  

Pin the pattern piece to the fabric, positioning the piece onto the folded edges like this:

Cut out the piece but DO NOT CUT ON THE FOLDS! They are your friends. If you've done this right you now have a huge single piece of fabric resembling a cross with a hole in it. 

Overlock or zig-zag all the raw edges, except for the circle (the neck).  Fold the top half down with right sides together, top edge on bottom edge. Pin and sew the side seams together like this: 

Also fold, pin and stitch sleeves and bottom hem over by about 1cm. Leave a small gap in each sleeve hem to insert elastic through. You can also add elastic in the bottom hem if you'd like. Cut about 25cm of elastic and use a safety pin or elastic threader to feed it through the sleeve casing.  Try it for size and then stitch or knot the ends together.  

The last step is attaching the bias binding.  If you're new to sewing on bias binding, here's a tutorial, but be sure to use the PROPER way.  It looks so much better, honestly :)

Decide which side will be the back, and mark the middle of the neck. Fold one end of the bias binding over by about .5cm and pin to the neck, right sides together, starting at the point you just marked. Pin around the neck, ending in the same way with a small fold.  Sew it on and then pin the other side.  When you're finished you should have a small gap in the back of the neck for your elastic threader or safety pin, and about 60cm of elastic.  Try it on before you cut the elastic, and then stitch or knot the ends like you did for the sleeves.  

And you're done!  I can be a bit cryptic sometimes, so let me know if you need any more explanations; just email or leave a comment. 


Jacqui said...

Wow! A whole pattern - I'm mightily impressed :)

mila + cuatro said...

Love the action shot.

Jesse said...

Great post! I've bookmarked it for future use - thank you! I'm thinking of trying this with short sleeves for summer.

Nonavee Dale said...

Really nice pattern illustration, and magazine style fashion photos

Ruby in the Dust said...

thanks everyone :)I wouldn't call it mag style though, Nonnie! you should have seen me running to and from the camera trying to get myself in the auto-shot; I'd call it comedy style fashion photos, hehe!

Gloria Hanrahan said...

I realize this is a really old post, but was wondering why the emphasis on the PROPER way to put on the bias binding, when your link and method are not really the correct way to do it. Purchased bias binding is made with one side a bit wider than the other, and the binding is meant to be put on with only one stitching. If you use a bias binder foot, you don't even need to pin.

Ruby in the Dust said...

Hi Gloria, thanks for your comment. I used the emphasis to distinguish between the two methods Dana uses. Because I made my own binding, I didn't have one side wider than the other, like shop-bought binding would have. I also don't have a binding foot; it sounds like a wonderful thing!