DIY Sewing Project: The Peasant Dress

diy peasant dress

Peasant dresses are a staple in a little girl’s wardrobe. They are easy, versatile, and fast to sew. If you are an experienced sewer you can play with the endless variations, if you are a beginner master this staple and build your confidence.

I really like the tunic length for this style. It gets quite cold here, so she is never going to be without leggings or thick tights. If I keep her dress a little shorter she has an easier time climbing, jumping, and managing stairs. Because sometimes a girl has exploring to do…

free toddler pattern

Due to all the interest this pattern has been digitized and is now available for free it 12/18 month, 2T/3T, and 4T. You can find the pattern HERE.

This style of dress requires two easy to cut pattern pieces. You’ll cut two of each piece on the fold. I used contrasting fabric so about a 1/2 yard of each.

I made a 2T/24 month size. A quick search and I found a variation on suggested measurements. Here is what worked for me, if your child’s body type is different you may want to play with these.

diy peasant dress patternPlease remember since you are cutting the pieces above on the fold your total measurements width wise will be twice the measurement listed.

These measurements will give you a pretty full dress. If you want less of a gathered or slimmer look adjust your measurements. Want to adjust your size? Increase your sleeve width by half an inch for each size up you want to go, and one inch to the top of the bodice. I would recommend measuring to find your ideal body length.

The sleeve and armhole shape are a little different on a peasant dress. You are going to create a L or J shape. Your pattern pieces will end up looking like this- (you can find a step by step of the armhole drafting in this post.)

free peasant dress patternI like to create this shape on my pattern piece. I drew a box on my sleeve pattern 5″ long by 2″ deep. (Increase by 1/2″ as you up sizes) Then I just sketched in a small curve. When you have your curve lie it on top of the body pattern piece and trace it. The L or J shape on piece is the SAME for your body and sleeve.

You’re done cutting. Choose a body piece pin your sleeves to the body matching those J shaped arms right sides together.

attach peasant sleeves

Now you’ll match the remaining body piece and sleeve curves and sew again. Remember to keep right sides together.

You’ll end up with something that looks like this.

assembled peasant dressFold your dress in half. It will look like a dress now! Pin from the hem to the cuff.

DIY peasant sleeveOnce you have both side seams together you will have a dress that looks like this-

toddler peasant dressYour neckline will be a straight line across the top of the sleeves.

A Note: The first time I made a dress of this style I panicked right here. I tried it on her and the sleeves were weird I was worried I had screwed it up. The elastic you put in the neckline is going to change how the sleeves fit. If it seems funny now- don’t worry yet.

Now I don’t LOVE finishing things so I serged the edges of my sleeves neckline and hem. This way I stopped that edge from fraying and I only had to turn over my fabric once.

Create Casings:

You will put elastic at both the neck and wrists so first create a casing. If you don’t serge first than turn under 1/4″ to hide your raw edge and then turn you fabric over 3/4″ to pull your elastic through. I used 3/8″ elastic. Remember to leave an opening to pull your elastic through!

I used a 14″ piece of elastic in the neckline and 6″ in the sleeves. My dress wearer is a bit of a peanut so you may need to adjust those. I recommend starting longer you can always trim your elastic after you’ve pulled it to fit. (I have found 16-17″ in the neckline and 7″ in the wrist makes a comfortable fit for 18-4T sizes. You will have a slightly larger neck opening than pictured in this tutorial. You can see examples HERE.)

Hem the bottom by turning under 1/4″and then 1/2″ and stitching along the fold line, and you’re DONE!

free peasant dress patternGo Play! Like this tutorial? Hit the +1 on Google!

Master this basic and stay tuned for a post on fun variations. Update: We’re releasing three new summer versions of this pattern. Start with this introduction to the summer peasant dresses.

What is your favorite boy or girl staple to sew?

toddler dress patternWe link to these Parties.

Summer Variations: Full Tutorials

Shoulder ties Top

Toddler Shoulder tie peasant shirt tutorial

Shirred Short Sleeve

Peasant top

Ruffle Neck Peasant Dress

Ruffle Neck Peasant Dress Pattern and Tutorial by Once Upon a Sewing Machine

Flutter Sleeve Peasant Dress

flutter 2

{ 68 comments… add one }

  • Cindy October 22, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Super cute! I like how you used a print for the sleeves and a solid for the front/back.:)
    Cindy recently posted..KCWC: The Wrap UpMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 22, 2012, 2:46 pm

      Thanks! I was a bit nervous it would look super blocky, but I’m happy with it.

  • Kadie October 22, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Oh she’s ADORABLE!! Oh and the little dress is super cute too!! Great tutorial!

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 22, 2012, 8:46 pm

      Thanks! She was having a great time running free while I tried to snap some shots 😉

  • Iva October 23, 2012, 6:56 am

    A great lesson. Small model is so beautiful. Greetings from me and the Czech Republic.

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 23, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Kilee October 24, 2012, 8:44 am

    This is adorable. I love how you paired it with tights and boots. So cute for all seasons.
    I’d love for you to link this up to WKWW-What Kids Wore Wednesday Link Party this week at ONE little MOMMA.


    • onceuponasewingmachine October 24, 2012, 9:11 am

      Thanks for the invite, we’ll head over!

  • Karen October 24, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m pinning it. I’m expecting a little girl in March and am looking forward to sewing for her. I’ve already been working away at her baby wardrobe. Your model is beyond adorable!
    Karen recently posted..E is for Eli!My Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 24, 2012, 6:21 pm

      thank you! It is so fun to sew for little girls! Love my little guy too, but those fun fast easy projects are fewer and farther between.

  • jenny October 24, 2012, 7:50 pm

    The dress (and model!) is so sweet!
    jenny recently posted..Halloween Pillow, New Sewing MachineMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 24, 2012, 10:04 pm

      Thanks so much

  • Eva Scott October 25, 2012, 6:21 am

    What an adorable dress and even more adorable little girl! I haven’t experimented too much with making dresses for my little girl but this one looks easy enough. Thanks!
    Eva Scott recently posted..DIY: Superhero ArtworkMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 7:59 am

      This is a great place to start EVa. Lots of give for a learning curve.

  • simplesimonandco October 25, 2012, 9:36 am

    I love peasant dresses on little girls!!! They are SO darling on!! Awesome tute.

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 12:18 pm

      I agree, she has a couple and they are always favorites around here!

  • Annie October 25, 2012, 10:31 am

    I love peasant dresses! Your dress is so cute, and your model is adorable!
    Annie recently posted..Alice in Wonderland Dress for Little MomoMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 12:19 pm

      Thank you! They are so fun and versatile!

  • Gina October 25, 2012, 6:55 pm

    It’s so adorable!!!!! I love it.
    Gina recently posted..Caramel Apples {RECIPE}My Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 8:21 pm

      Thanks for the feedback!

  • Jill October 25, 2012, 8:59 pm

    Simply gorgeous!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    Jill recently posted..PintuckingMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 9:33 pm

      Thanks so much Jill! Now I’ve been tempted by your pintucking link- over to your blog I go!

  • Kate October 26, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I love it! Thanks for sharing!

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 26, 2012, 2:36 pm

      Thanks for checking it out!

  • Triple T Mum October 26, 2012, 11:46 pm

    This dress looks great! Thanks for the tutorial. I am a little confused about making the J shape, but once I get start hopefully I’ll work it out! I have shared with my followers on FB and on Pinterest.
    Triple T Mum recently posted..Card Making With HessianMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 27, 2012, 7:41 am

      Thank you so much for sharing! Please let us know if that funny arm shape confuses you once you get rolling. If you draw a rectangle and just sketch in a small curve where the armpit would be you’ve got it! Just remember the size and shape is the same on all 4 of your pieces.

  • Justine/ sew country chick October 27, 2012, 11:41 am

    I love peasant dresses too. The last one I made , I added a waist casing for more definition and it is so easy to do. Cute dress! Thanks for stopping by!
    Justine/ sew country chick recently posted..Sew & Tell Saturday 10/27/2012My Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 27, 2012, 1:16 pm

      I love that idea, I debated with this one actually! A waist next time!

  • Pam October 27, 2012, 10:27 pm

    A fabulous, easy to follow tutorial!!! Peasant dresses are just so versatile and your little model looks so sweet in hers. I’d have to say I prefer sewing for girls.

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 28, 2012, 10:18 am

      I like that girls sewing has a bit more of an instant gratification to it! Easy and cute- boys sewing makes you work a little more haha

  • Kathryn Griffin October 28, 2012, 9:03 pm

    She is adorable and the dress is perfect! Beautiful job! Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see your prettiness again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse
    Kathryn Griffin recently posted..Make it Pretty Monday – Week 20My Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 28, 2012, 9:55 pm

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Carissa October 29, 2012, 5:28 pm

    turned out sooo cute:) Love the print!
    Carissa recently posted..Oven Turkey MeatballsMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 29, 2012, 6:15 pm

      Thank you. I’ve had it for a bit, I think was just the right spot for it!

  • Katherine December 23, 2012, 10:19 am


  • Laura February 10, 2013, 10:33 am

    So, I made this dress using mostly your tutorial and a few others I found for sizing help. And it came out soooo cute! I added a bow detail to the front for fun. Linked you to my blog, thanks!
    Laura recently posted..My First Peasant DressMy Profile

    • onceuponasewingmachine February 10, 2013, 9:10 pm

      It turned out great!

      • Linda Goode May 22, 2013, 2:35 pm

        Made this today using a fine teddy bear print corduroy for my two year old. It’s brilliant! She loves it!

  • Nicole September 6, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Hi I am super confused after printing out the pattern. How is it suppose to go together?

    • onceuponasewingmachine September 6, 2013, 9:41 pm

      Hi Nicole, I’m shooting you an email!

  • Angel September 26, 2013, 9:19 pm

    I am also confused with printing and piecing it. Any help? I don’t think my settings are right with my printer because I have a border, should it cover the whole page? I’m anxious to make a peasant dress for my 14 month old, please help! :)

    • onceuponasewingmachine September 26, 2013, 9:37 pm

      I sent you a rundown of how-to let me know if you don’t see it or if you have questions!

  • Joan October 18, 2013, 8:39 am

    I printed this pattern and made a dress for size 18 mths and it is so small it would fit a newborn! Even the 3-4 is tiny. Did my pattern not print correctly?

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 18, 2013, 4:14 pm

      Hi Joan, Sounds like it’s printed out of scale. Different printers will give you different options, but you want to make sure either “no scaling” is chosen or you print at 100%. There is a 1″ box on the pattern, measure that to help make adjustments.

  • Dawn November 19, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Love this pattern, how could you make it bigger, i know that it goes up to a size 4, i would like to make bigger sizes. Thank you for your help/

  • Steph November 19, 2013, 7:23 pm

    I has bought this pattern along with others and I was wondering if you had a pattern for older children up to size 10 girls for the peasant dress.

    • Dawn November 20, 2013, 7:52 am

      i was looking for the same thing if you find out please post for me and i will do the same for you!!


      • stephanie November 20, 2013, 8:08 am

        I found this and bought it but its more intricate rather than a simple peasant dress. Going to try it out but want something more simple.

        • Dawn November 20, 2013, 8:55 am

          i just downloaded the free peasant dress pattern from here its very simple and you can make up to a 4t, the pattern is only 4 pieces. I just need to know what to do in order to make bigger sizes.

        • onceuponasewingmachine November 20, 2013, 9:00 am

          Hi Ladies,

          We don’t have any immediate plans to upsize, we may in the future. I’m a big fan of Peek a boo patterns, they offer really clear instructions. She has a peasant dress of a slightly different style. It runs from 3 mon. to 12 years.

          • Dawn November 20, 2013, 9:06 am

            Thank you for responding, couldnt you just added inches to the pattern. if im not mistaken there are only a few inches between each size.

          • onceuponasewingmachine November 20, 2013, 12:19 pm

            Yes and no. The length can be easily adjust, but for an appropriate fit through the armhole and body there is a little more math. Grading, creating a digital pattern, and then running it through the testing process to assure what we are offering is appropriate is a pretty lengthy process. We are very appreciative of our readers, and love being able to offer free tutorials and patterns. Like most our holiday schedules are pretty slammed! After the new year we may be able to spend a couple of weeks running through the upsizing process. Thanks for understanding. Here is a quick reference to cut and spread method if you want to try some resizing before then.

          • onceuponasewingmachine November 20, 2013, 12:31 pm
  • Aubrey November 20, 2013, 1:34 am

    Thanks for the tutorial! Super easy to follow! I made one and posted a pic on my blog.
    Aubrey recently posted..the birthday dressMy Profile

    • Dawn November 20, 2013, 8:54 am

      i just downloaded the free peasant dress pattern from here its very simple and you can make up to a 4t, the pattern is only 4 pieces. I just need to know what to do in order to make bigger sizes.

  • stephanie November 20, 2013, 12:32 pm

    I just bought the Peek a Boo pattern….I am going to try it since it seems easier to follow than the other pattern I cut out. Thanks again for your help and I look forward to hopefully seeing a pattern from you in the future as I found your directions very easy to follow and I love how my girls outfits came out and so did they!

    • onceuponasewingmachine November 20, 2013, 3:45 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it! Thanks for following along and the kind words!

  • Sky Gold December 7, 2013, 5:45 pm

    This pattern and tutorial was exactly what I needed! Made this for my 2yearold tonight with french seams in a solid red and red chevron print for her pics with Santa, I wish I knew how to post pics! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  • MomOfTwoBlessings January 27, 2014, 1:26 am

    I am extremely new at sewing, I have made one pillowcase dress before and still have to look at YouTube to thread my machine haha! Your instruction in this blog was so wonderful and easy for the newest of newbies to follow!!! I just made this for my daughter and am so surprised at how well I did :) I just wanted to thank you :) now I just need to find something easy to make for my 1 year old son, any suggestions?

  • sara January 29, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Can anyone tell me what the seam allowance is on this?

    • onceuponasewingmachine January 30, 2014, 12:17 pm

      It’s 3/8″

  • L.L. Beech March 15, 2014, 8:27 am

    I hope I can do this without a pattern

  • Suzi May 9, 2014, 5:52 pm

    Big thanks! Cute dress, lots of potential for variations , simple construction, and nice to not have to pay a small fortune for a commercial pattern so free really appreciated !

  • Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures June 5, 2014, 5:38 am

    Good morning! ‘Just wanted to let you know I am talking about this wonderful pattern today. I used it in an upcycle and think it turned out great! Thank you for the pattern! Here is the post, if you would like to see it!
    -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
    Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures recently posted..Upcycling a Thrifted DressMy Profile

  • ujin ha December 4, 2014, 9:20 pm

    Very pretty pattern.
    I’ll use very well, thank you~
    Go put on my blog. in South Korea..^^

  • Caroline February 2, 2015, 12:38 pm

    Thank you for the great tutorial. I have a 8 mo old who wears 12mo-18 mo. Would I go down 1/2 ” for her size? I look forward to making some dresses for her!

  • traniceirs February 20, 2015, 4:20 pm

    I was wondering can I purchase a pattern layout for a 18 month

  • Stephie Frine May 15, 2015, 12:55 am

    Super Cute and So Adorable!!
    I love doing Peasant Dresses Myself; although most of my stuff is done by Handstitching (because I feel it brings more of a True Peasant Style feeling to them).
    Love your Page!!

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