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The peasant top pattern drafting shortcut everyone should know

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Today I’m sharing a foolproof formula for making your own peasant top pattern, quick and easy, in any size you want. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create many pattern variations in length, volume, or neckline. A life-changing sewing skill you can learn in less than 15 minutes. Learn how to use a t-shirt to make your own peasant top pattern in 3 ridiculously simple steps.

I made this tutorial as straightforward as possible so that even a beginner can use it to draft their first peasant top, have a lot of fun in the process, and be proud of the result.

I’m beyond thrilled to share this with all of you!

peasant top pattern drafting shortcut

First off, let me make it clear that I’m not a professional patternmaker nor a professional seamstress. I’m completely self-taught and for me, sewing is a hobby that brings me a lot of joy and pleasure.

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while, probably know that I love peasant tops! They’re super comfortable, cute, and super quick to make.

I’ve already shared several tutorials on how to make a long sleeve peasant top, a flutter sleeve peasant top, and even a cute dress that combines a peasant top with a tulle skirt.

Just a while ago, I noticed my daughters and I need more peasant tops/dresses for our summer wardrobe, all in different sizes (11 years, 5 years, XS).

As you’d expect, I set out to make them, and here’s what I came across.

There is a simple shortcut anyone could use to make their own peasant top pattern!

Please don’t think of it as pattern drafting. It’s a child’s play!

You don’t have to possess extensive knowledge about sewing or years of experience for this to work.

Are you an absolute novice that knows nothing about sewing patterns? Do you have two left hands when it comes to taking body measurements?

Do you think “drafting your own pattern” is a grand endeavor that requires a lot of effort and attention? Say no more! I totally get it. I was there as well, not too long ago.

However, this beginner-friendly method requires little to no math and no body measurements.

All you need is a short sleeve t-shirt with a regular fit (not too tight but not too loose either).

Once you get a grasp of this formula (please take a few minutes to fully read this post) you’ll be able to alter your pattern in countless ways.

For example, you can make your sleeves larger or tighter, longer or shorter, and you’ll get to decide how much ease you want in your bodice.

Do you want to sew an off-shoulder top, a blouse with a ruffled neckline, a crop top, or a cute summer peasant dress?

All these are now within your reach!

You will be able to make peasant tops for you, a 12-month-old baby, a preschooler, a teen, or your friends.

I stumbled upon this method and it felt like I’ve just been granted magical powers. Everyone should know about this peasant top pattern drafting shortcut!

Being able to create and manipulate your own patterns takes you to a whole new level, with unlimited opportunities and great satisfaction.

The best part – it’s completely free and super easy! 15 minutes tops, and you’ll be there.

I used this shortcut to make four peasant tops in different sizes and styles and I’m excited to report back that it works like a charm!

Here all the peasant tops I made using this method (plus all the details on how I created the variations).

To put the whole thing in a nutshell:

Here’s a mini-glossary. These are the only measurements you need to make your own peasant top pattern. The size of your t-shirt does not matter.

sewing glossary

You have to trace the armhole of your t-shirt, then add about 2” (more on this later) upwards to extend it (CE – curve extension).

Then you’ll draw 2 rectangles, one for the bodice, and the other for the sleeve pattern.

Here’s how you’ll do it. The bodice pattern should have at least 3 inches of ease, preferably more. You’ll add your desired ease to the bust measurement – BM.

To figure out the sleeve pattern, you’ll use the t-shirt sleeve opening width (SOW). Basically, you’ll add ease to that measurement (depending on how much fullness you want). This will be the width of your sleeve.

The length of both sleeve and bodice is totally up to you.

Sewing supplies

And now on to a more detailed explanation. Let me walk you through the process so you understand exactly what I did here.

Step 1 – trace the armhole curve

Fold the tee in half and lay it on a simple A4 sheet, then start drawing the contour of the armhole from the shoulder seam to the underarm seam.

There’s no need to be super precise, but make sure that your drawn line is about the same length as the t-shirt armhole curve.

peasant top pattern drafting shortcut
  • Quick note – I know that there’s a difference between the front and back of a sleeve. Normally, the armhole is cut deeper into the front of the t-shirt than the back. But for this peasant top pattern, this difference doesn’t matter. The front and the back pattern pieces are identical.

Next, you have to extend the original curved line to increase freedom of movement and make room for the top elastic casing.

How much should you extend the curve? Well, that depends 1. on the type of blouse and 2. on the size you want to make.

peasant top pattern drafting

For an off-shoulder top, add about 2″ to your curved line. That’s enough to include an elastic casing, and given that the armhole curve will be identical to the t-shirt curve, there will be plenty of room and comfort.

If a classic peasant blouse is what you want, the curve extension (the pink line in the above picture) should measure about 3” for a women’s top, and less for a toddler’s top (I’d say 2″).

These numbers are approximations, but now you get the idea. Use your own judgement. You also have to take into account how wide your elastic casing will be, and whether you want a ruffled neckline.

Peasant tops are usually loose and flowy. Therefore, the guiding principle is that the sleeves should have a deeper armhole to improve comfort and movement.

After you finish drawing the curve, fold down the top and the bottom of your paper sheet to obtain an armhole pattern. Cut through the paper along that curve (but not with your sewing scissors!).

Step 2 – trace the bodice pattern

Your t-shirt is still folded in half and placed along the edge of your paper. Just like in the picture below.

Now you have to add ease to your bodice – mark a point at least 3” away* from the side seam of your t-shirt. There you’ll draw a line parallel to the edge of the paper.

(*) You can add more ease depending on how many gathers, or volume, you want for your peasant top, and the fabric you use.

peasant top pattern drafting shortcut

If you use a lightweight fabric, like viscose, chiffon, or silk, let’s say, you can add anywhere from 5” to 10″ of ease.

The length of your peasant top is up to you. You make a dress out of this pattern, or a crop top.

Once you draw your rectangle, it’s time to place the armhole pattern in the top right-hand corner and trace the curve.

In general, I will calculate the length of the finished garment by measuring down from the underarm point (remember to allow for the hem or elastic casing).

Also, you drafted the bodice on the fold – don’t forget to mark this info on your pattern piece.

Step 3 – trace the sleeve pattern

Measure the opening of the sleeve at the hem, from the folded edge to the underarm seam. No need to calculate the total circumference of the cuff.

As you see in the photo below, my measurement is 5”. That’s the only dimension I need, because the sleeve pattern is drafted on the fold.

Let’s calculate the width of the sleeve pattern. Depending on the desired fullness of your sleeve, you should add 2, 3, or more inches to the measurement above (5″ in my case).

The length of your peasant top’s sleeve is, again, up to you.

Once more, draw a rectangle. Desired width by the desired length. Again, place the armhole pattern in the top right-hand corner and trace the curve.

peasant top pattern drafting

Now let’s talk about the length of the sleeve.

I calculate the sleeve length by measuring from the underarm point (this is the starting point) to the bottom of the hemline. Make allowance for a wide elastic casing, if that’s what you want.

If you want a flutter sleeve top (like this one), cut your pattern piece down the middle of the armhole curve (don’t forget to allow for the hem).

Also, you drafted the sleeve on the fold – don’t forget to mark this info on your pattern piece.

And some final tips:

  • If you want an off-shoulder top, the length of your elastic equals (roughly) your t-shirt’s measurement from shoulder to shoulder. That’s true especially for 1″ wide elastic. If you use narrow elastic it will stretch more, therefore you’ll cut a shorter piece.
  • If you want elasticated cuffs, cut your elastic pieces about the same length as the circumference of your t-shirt sleeve’s hem. Be aware that it’s a different measurement from the one in Step 3. I used there half the sleeve’s width (5”), while the total circumference is 10”.

I hope you’re now eager to get going and test out your new superpowers!

If you have questions or observations regarding this peasant top pattern drafting shortcut, please share them in the comment section below so others can see and benefit from this exchange of ideas. Thank you!

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