Hey! Today I’m going to show you how to change up a peasant dress pattern by shirring the neckline. Shirring works great for peasant necklines since it gathers it the same way elastic does, but it gives it a different, kind of softer look. I wanted the sleeves to match the neck and skip the elastic insertion altogether so I shirred them too.
As for what kind of fabric to use, lightweight is best as the heavier the fabric, the less the shirring is going to gather it. I’ve had this lightweight floral woven sitting in my stash for what feels like forever. I picked 1 yd of it up for $1 at a Walmart sale so obviously it’s pretty thin. In fact, it’s almost sheer so it gathered really easily and ended up making a top my daughter loves and will wear. $1 Walmart fabric for the win!
It’s really simple to switch out the elastic in the neckline and sleeves for shirring. I used the Pretty Peasant pattern, but any other peasant dress/top pattern should do the trick as well. First, sew the sleeves to the front and back as normal. Then you are going to want to finish the neckline. I used my narrow hem foot to sew a tiny 1/8″ (0.3 cm) hem. You could also use a serger for a rolled hem, or even sew a narrow lace trim around it. However you finish it, just make sure it’s pretty small and lightweight or it will look goofy with the shirring straining to gather it. Once you sew the side seams, you can finish the sleeve hems the same way.
Once the neck and sleeves are finished, you can shirr them. The more rows of shirring, the greater they will gather. The number and spacing of rows is up to you and the pattern you are using. For my top, I sewed 2 rows of shirring for the sleeves and 3 rows for the neckline with all of the rows 1/4″ (0.6 cm) apart. If you have never shirred before, I have a how-to video here. I also added a cute little cotton eyelet trim to the hem for a bit of a girly touch.
Give those lines of shirring a little pop of steam and that’s it! It’s as easy as that to change up a simple peasant pattern for something a bit more interesting.