Shirred Short Sleeve Peasant Dress or Top

shirred short sleeveHere is the next easy variation on your peasant top pattern, the shirred short sleeve top or dress. This top makes use of a sewing material I’ve been meaning to try for awhile now, elastic thread. I’m happy to report it was a much easier, happier experience than I had anticipated. I’ll share all the details below.

Due to popular demand we’ve digitized this pattern in sizes 12/18 month, 2T/3T, and 4T you can find it HERE. 

Let’s start sewing your top! 

Don’t have a pattern? Start here.

Sewing a Short Sleeved Peasant Top

The process to creating the base of your top is going to be similar to identical to the original peasant dress tutorial.

First you’ll cut your pieces. Follow the pattern instructions you’ll have two main body pieces, and two sleeves (cut at the short sleeve mark)

short sleeve peasant dress pattern1. Attach both of your sleeves right sides together to your front.

short sleeve peasant dress pattern2. Repeat with the back. You’ll now have a garment that looks like this. I’m using fabric from a skirt, so I have hems already, otherwise this would be an easy time to hem your sleeves. I recommend a small hem. Turn 1/4″ then another 1/4″ and hem.

3. Update: I would recommend adding your shirring now. Scroll to the bottom of the post for tips on elastic thread if this is new to you. I added in a line of shirring at 1/4″ and 1/2″ putting your shirring in now will allow you to secure your threads in the side seam.

short sleeve peasant dress pattern4. Sew your side seams. Go from the bottom hem all the way up to the bottom of the sleeve in one continuous stitching line. Hem the bottom of your shirt by turning under 1/4″ and then 1/2″ again.

shirred sleeve peasant dress pattern free

5. Create your casing. I finished my edge with serging, you can also start by turning your fabric over 1/4″, then another 3/4″ to create your casing. Stitch the bottom edge all the way around. Leave open a spot to feed in your elastic. 

DIY Sewing Project Peasant top

6. Insert your elastic and feed it all the way through. I used about half the length of the ungathered neckline. Try on and adjust to your desired length. You can see I’ve used more elastic in this neckline than on the ruffle neck peasant dress version. It gives a little different look, both work.  Sew your elastic together. Sew closed your casing. Update: 17-18″ of elastic will work well for the sizes 12 months to 4T. I used 1/4″ elastic, if you prefer 1/2″ and 3/8″ will also work.

DIY Sewing Project Peasant top

Sewing with Elastic Thread

I’m going to give you what worked on my machine. The research I did suggested that each machine is a little different- you’ll want to do some test runs first.

What I need to know about sewing with elastic thread

Where do I buy it? It is located with the rest of your elastic and is widely available, I picked up a spool at Joanns.

Where do I put this in my machine? Elastic thread is hand wound onto your bobbin. Use your regular thread up top.

I’m sorry did you say hand wound? Yes, it turns out that isn’t really terrible. Keep a consistent tension. You don’t want it real loose or it gets bunched and twisted (from experience). My understanding is it won’t go well if you wind it really tight either.

How do I set the machine? Here is where you will want to practice. And I would recommend using either the actual material or the same type of material. On my machine I got the best results by setting my stitch length out as long as it would go and not changing my tension. I have read, however, that some machines perform better with the tension cranked up.

You’re creating a gathering stitch, so I started with those settings and tweaked from there.

Does my material matter? Yep. This recycled skirt material is very light. I had a significant shirred effect after one line of stitching. You may need 2-3 rows of stitching to create the same effect with quilting cotton.

DIY Sewing Project Peasant top I put in two lines of elastic stitching at 1/4″ and 1/2″. Tailor this to your material choice.

DIY Sewing Project Peasant topYou’re all set! You can use this same detail to give a little different effect at the bottom of a long sleeve top too.

DIY Sewing Project Peasant top

We’ve got a few more girl projects lined up for you, including a pattern test we are dying to share that is being released!

We are also really excited to have Feathers Flights for a guest on Thursday’s Sew You Had a Boy post.

Happy Sewing!



{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Amy Mayen June 2, 2013, 11:34 pm

    Ooh…cute top!! Elastic thread is my BFF! Such a sweet little pic by the fence too. Rachel, you are producing a ton of stuff lately! (Makin’ us all look bad!) I love Heather & can’t wait to see the post. I’m still being lazy about commenting & visiting- no power = tethering from my phone & it takes 10 hours for a page load. Totally worth it!

  • emily June 5, 2013, 7:40 am

    so cute! I have elastic thread I bought ages ago to try shirring with and I still haven’t used it…. need to get on that! I would love for you to link this up to my tasteful Tuesday party! Its going on now! Emily @ Nap-Time Creations

  • Pam June 7, 2013, 6:38 am

    I remember procrastinating before I initially tried shirring. It was so easy and I wondered why I had taken so long to try it. I love the effect. A very pretty little top.

  • Charity July 8, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Can I ask you where did you have your clothing tags made….I’d like to have some with my own logo for my girls clothes I make for them …. Thank you

    • onceuponasewingmachine July 9, 2013, 6:52 pm

      We actually made them. We were testing out what we wanted to have them look like, and didn’t want to buy a TON of them or spend a ton. You can buy sheets of fabric (at a Joanns or big box) that is designed to go through the printer. There are all different kinds so you just want to make sure you buy washable not dry clean only. So far they’ve held up really well, and my kids clothes take a lot of beating and washing!

  • Sewing Mama February 12, 2014, 3:24 am

    Thank you for your lovely tutorial. The dresses and shirts you make are absolutely beautiful and I hope you know how much us other sewing mothers out here appreciate you taking the time to put such wonderful information here for us to share. Thank you.

    • onceuponasewingmachine February 12, 2014, 2:19 pm

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Chrisi March 15, 2014, 6:49 am

    Do you have tutorials for adults

  • Beth July 11, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I love that top, I am going to make the peasant top with a circle skirt to be a Snow White Dress in a size 5. Any suggestions on how to adjust the size difference?
    I am also going to make it with a circle skirt to be Ariel in a size 7.
    Any help is appreciated. I would say I am “intermediate” I’ve made over a dozen dresses, about the same number of pajamas as well as 3 jackets… and of course skirts, pillows, curtains.. etc…


  • Beth July 11, 2015, 7:37 pm

    Sorry forgot to have it notify me by e mail. How would you adjust for a size 5 or 7?

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