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Monday, August 16, 2010

Sewing: Peasant Tops

Sewing: Peasant Tops

I love peasant tops. Especially the Huichol and Poblano embroidered ones: cool white cotton, with bright colored floral embroidery designs.

I didn't know the value of these beauties when I was little in India, but, I remember a few of my favorites, very much like the Huichol ones. Cheese cotton or Crinkle cotton was the preferred fabric which was perfect for the Indian heat, with tight and intricate embroidery. I probably had about half-a-dozen of these tops with various sleeves - short, 3/4, bell, cap - and never thought much about them in those days. How I wish I could have them now!

Anyway, I wanted to make peasant tops for Ana. I was out of thin plain cotton fabric from my stock, and I wasn't in the mood to do any intricate hand-embroidery. My sewing machine cannot handle embroidery well anyway.

However, of late, I've been recycling old clothes to make new ones - Dad's shirt to a little girls' dress, pillowcase to A-line summer dress and drawstring backpack, smaller t-shirts become a dress with tiered layers attached to the t-shirt bodice and such ...

Most recent is re-purposing my old salwars. Salwar-Kameez is a traditional North Indian outfit consisting of loose pantalons (salwar) and flowing tunic (kameez). I wear the kameez/tunic a lot with jeans/pants as I cannot handle bottoms without pockets, leaving the salwars unused.

One of my salwars with block printed design from Jaipur was sitting in the suitcase, not even earning a place in my closet or chest of drawers. By cutting out the waistband and opening out the legs, I get enough fabric to make clothes for Ana. That's how these peasant tops came about for Ana as well as Enid. These days, if I can manage it, I make a matching outfit for her cabbage-patch doll, Enid so she can play dress-up to her heart's content.

The peasant tops itself is very simple. There are many tutorials on the web by wonderful crafters and seamstresses, so am not attempting to post any detailed instructions here. Here is my favorite one that I love for its simplicity and clarity of instructions.

Basically, cut out body and sleeve pieces, attach them at the armhole, leaving out the shoulder. This was the hard part as I always tend to sew the shoulder seams first. In this case, the shoulder seams stay open to form the classic gathered neck with sort of a drop-shoulder look. After attaching body to sleeves at armhole, sew up the side seams; then make a casing at the top and thread required amount of elastic - I prefer the thin round elastic - and Voilà!


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