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.

Our tutorial gives you an option for shirt, tunic, and dress lengths. Go ahead and fill a drawer.


Ready to get started?

Download the pattern HERE. 

The pattern includes three sizes. 12-18months, 2T-3T, and 4-5. It includes the pieces for this basic peasant dress as well as the extra pieces to transform it into a short sleeve, flutter sleeve, and ruffle neck peasant dress or top.

If you haven’t worked with a PDF pattern before you can get all the details on how to print and assemble the pattern on this page. 

This pattern allows for a bit of wiggle room and growth.

Cut your pieces- Pieces all include 3/8″ seam allowance

You will need two sleeves and two bodies, one back and one front. All pieces are cut on the fold.

Pin your left sleeve to the front of your dress matching right sides together. Sew at 3/8″. Repeat with the right sleeve.

Take your remaining body piece and match your left armhole to the other side of your left sleeve. Sew. Match your right armhole right sleeve. Sew.

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

Match your side seams from your cuff to your waist. Make sure to match your underarm seam. Sew from your cuff to your waist on both sides.

It’s going to look really large at this point. That’s ok, next up is elastic.

Create Casings:

You will put elastic at both the neck and wrists.

If you are using a knit fabric: Turn your fabric over 3/4″ toward the wrong side of your dress/shirt. Press and sew along the bottom edge. Leave open about 1″ to insert your elastic. Knit fabric will not unravel so you do not have to finish your edge. (unless you would like to!)

If you are using a woven fabric: Either serge your raw edge or turn under 1/4″ and then again 3/4″. Press and sew along the bottom edge. Leave open about 1″ to insert your elastic.

Elastic Measurements: 

I use 3/8″ elastic, 1/4″ would work also.

I recommend cutting 7″ for each wrist in all sizes.

Neck elastic:  For 12-18 months: 15″, 2T-3T: 16″, 4-5: 17″

You can always trim elastic if you want a tighter fit.

Insert your elastic and pull it around.

Overlap your elastic ends and zig zag across them back and forth. Make sure you get a solid connection- it’s a real bummer to have to open up casings to repair elastic. Tuck your elastic into your casing and stitch closed your casing.

The neckline here shows you what your finished casing will look like compared to the sleeve where I haven’t yet put my elastic in.

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

free peasant shirt pattern

toddler dress pattern

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

{ 80 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.:)

    • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 25, 2012, 8:21 pm

      Thanks for the feedback!

      • helen November 9, 2016, 3:46 pm

        do your patterns include seam allowances?

  • 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

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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

    • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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

  • 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!!

  • C November 17, 2015, 6:07 pm

    What is the seam allowance? Am I missing it?

    • allison December 3, 2015, 10:14 am

      earlier she responded saying 3/8″

  • Beckie November 26, 2015, 5:28 am

    I’m currently making this for my daughter! I’ve linked this tutorial in my blog!

  • lucia December 29, 2015, 11:42 am


  • Arianne J October 26, 2017, 11:55 am

    This is the second time I’ve made this pattern, and I’m really confused about how to get the sleeve and armhole to line up. If I live them up to make a straight line at the collar, the bottom half of the armpit doesn’t match up, and vice versa. I’ve printed it according to the instructions, so I’m not sure if it’s an error in the pattern, or if it’s not really supposed to fit the way I think it should. Any tips?

    • onceuponasewingmachine October 26, 2017, 3:40 pm

      You want to line up the actual armhole, I would start at the bottom of the armhole and work your way up, you have some fudge room at the top if for some reason you need it. Your actual armhole edges will line up, but you will notice the top of the sleeve will look like it’s slanting down when it’s laid flat on the bodice

  • Anastasia March 23, 2018, 8:21 am


    • Donna March 23, 2018, 10:09 am

      We have not drafted out for those small sizes. Our Peasant Dress/top begins at the 12-18 month size and goes up to size 4. For the 12-18 month size use 14″ neckline elastic and 6″ elastic for the sleeves. For the 2-4T size a 16-17″ neckline elastic will work fine and a 7″ length for the sleeve. We hope this helps.

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