Fiddler on the Roof: Peasant Costume #6

Have I mentioned that I am having the BEST time making these costumes?  Mixing and matching patterns, colors and prints is so much fun . . .  and much more satisfying than breaking off weeds that won’t pull out of my sun-baked clay, or cleaning . . . although I DID do a deep clean on my kids bathroom last week–throwing out the countless bottles and containers of hair product that had been abandoned as they moved away.  So, I figured I deserved a little sewing fun!

If you follow my blog-linked page on Facebook, you saw the picture of a tablecloth I found recently for $1.

thrifting finds!

I wanted to incorporate this into a costume.  I think the embroidery fits in with the flavor of the folk-themed I have been making.  (The white and blue still is waiting for a project).  I thought that the yellow was perhaps a bit too bright so I tried toning it down with a tea bath.

trying to tea dye the tablecloth

I soaked it overnight in a bowl.  I have the fabric pushed down with a plate and weighted to keep it from floating up.  This did absolutely nothing to the color of the fabric, but it was worth a try.

I was concerned that the tablecloth was going to look like exactly like a tablecloth-being-worn-as-an-apron as so I tried to figure out a way to cut the designs out of the tablecloth and re-create them into a border for a skirt.   It was a good idea, but with the different sizes of the components, I couldn’t figure a workable way to do it, so, I just decided to use it as is and see how it looked.

I began the project by finding a blouse, a tank top and some fabric for a skirt.

This is the original blouse:

Nancy, who has been a faithful reader of this blog, pushed me to try removing the collar by opening the seam up between the band and the collar.  I used a seam ripper to start the process.

starting to remove the collar from the band with a seam ripperAnd then a few tugs . . . and off it came.

OK.  She wins.  (And I also credit Kris for opening my eyes to better quality seam rippers than the little hook versions you commonly find.  I don’t know if mine is exactly the style she recommended, but, it’s great).

The blouse had folded cuffs.  My original thought was to add some fabric below to make fuller long sleeves.  However, when I clipped the stay stitching and opened the hem, they were much longer than I had thought.

So, I changed my plan and decided to add a ruffle to the bottom and call it good.  I have strips of white sheet (cut with a pinking shears) pre-gathered that I use for bum pads, petticoats and bloomers, so I just added strips of that to the bottom, and trimmed them with some yellow eyelet to tie them to the apron.  It’s just a subtle bit of color.

Next I added a plaid tank top.  (Sorry for the bad picture, but you get the idea).

blouse with added plaid sleeveless tank top

On to the apron next.  The edges of the tablecloth had a narrow fringe (I guess, either that, or it was never finished).  I turned three sides to the back and stitched them down for a hem.  The top side I ran a gathering thread, and then attached it to a piece of white twill tape.

gathered apron pinned to twill tape

I later thought the twill tape was a little too white, and so I added some dark green lace to it.

Last came the skirt.  I made an apron waist skirt from a piece of striped fabric that included black, yellow and blue.  It’s just peeking out behind the apron.


After worrying that the tablecloth would look distractingly like, well, a tablecloth, I was quite pleased at how it transformed.  The gathers “reshaped” cloth from square to rectangular, including the center embroidered square, and disguise the origins.

This costume was really easy, and the could have been made even easier by leaving the blouse as is, and finding a dark skirt instead of making one.   If the sleeves end up being too floppy, a little elastic either above the ruffle, or at the bottom edge would take care of that.  The plaid tank top is clearly not fitted enough to work as a corset-style vest, but I think it works for this style of costume.


5 thoughts on “Fiddler on the Roof: Peasant Costume #6

  1. I love the tablecloth as part of the costume. I think it looks nothing like a tablecloth.
    I am so glad the collar part came right off for you. I too should look into a better seam ripper.

    I would not have thought of putting a sleeveless top over the blouse but it is perfect. The thing with these costumes is that they look very organic, just the way these people would have put outfits together.

    I did love the wedding dress I made for Fiddler much more than my chorus costumes. I had these old lace curtains. They were almost like knitted lace. They were cheap when I bought them but they washed and wore like a dream so they stayed on my windows forever. They were the type where the holes for the curtain rod to pass through were woven into the design of the curtain lace. And I am using the word lace very loosely. They made the best wedding gown. Just a simple long sleeved full skirted dress.

    I am not surprised that the tea didn’t work with the tablecloth because I think there wasn’t a natural fiber to be found in the cross-stitch tablecloths I remember. They never really wrinkled.

    I am enjoying this series of costumes and have learned much!


    • I think the tablecloth was a cotton/blend based on the fringe around the edges. I suspect whatever dye process was used was the culprit. It was worth a few pennies of tea to see if it might work. Your wedding dress sounds perfect. The official costumer for this show might have a plan, otherwise, once we have a cast list, I have some older dresses that I thought might work to remodel . .. we’ll see. I LOVE my new seam ripper. It’s really sharp, more like an shaped exacto knife, so I’ve made a few little holes (which for my projects doesn’t matter). There’s a skill to using it, and I”m learning. It does slice serged/overlocked seams nicely 🙂


  2. I like the tank top in the outfit. It gives the idea of a corset even if it’s not fitted. Maybe gives a more matronly shape. The tablecloth apron looks good too.


    • Thanks. It is a fairly easy way to give an “impression”. This tank top was not fitted at all and pulled over the head. I am going to try and make one out of a shirt, since this wasn’t a tank top style that you find all the time.


  3. (I have enjoyed seeing your creations recently but have not had time to comment since I am working on three shows.)
    This is my favorite I’m supposed countdown because it’s so quick and simpl, and I LOVE the tank top over the blouse for that reason.
    Thanks for continuing to share!


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