Peplum tops have been in style for generations. Fresh and modern, yet feminine and ladylike, the peplum helps cover a wide midsection of the body, while the fitted upper part of the top provides a sleekness to the style. And the best part? It makes for a great beginner pattern!
Step 1: Select your pattern
I decided to work with the pattern Vogue 8815 — it’s classic, suits many tastes and is readily available everywhere.
Step 2: Choose a size & cut your pieces
Start by measuring your body to determine the size you want to make. For this style, the focus is on your bust, waist and hip. The hip is slightly less critical because of the natural flare of the peplum, but the bust and waist are key due to the fitted nature of the style.
Once you’ve selected a size from the size chart, cut out your pieces. For this pattern we have the bodice front, the bodice back pieces, the peplum front, the peplum back pieces and the sleeves (as shown above. Keep in mind: The neckline is finished with bias binding so there’s no piece for that.
Step 3: Sew the shaping darts
To achieve the fitted shape, first create the darts on the bodice front piece, as well as on the pair of bodice back pieces. Transfer the markings from the tissue paper to the wrong side of the fabric, fold and pin in place.
Sew the darts from the fabric’s edge to the apex. I prefer to shorten my stitch length to 1.0 for the last 3/8″ of the dart as you approach the apex instead of backstitching or knotting the threads. This creates a strong and secure end without any puckering or bumps at the apex.
Press the darts away from the center. A pressing ham helps make your darts much smoother, as it takes the place of the curves of your body. Once you fold and sew a dart, the fabric is no longer flat, so pressing it on a flat surface is not helpful. That’s the job of the ham!
Once you’ve sewn all your darts, the pieces should look like the above. The bodice front and peplum front on the left, and the bodice back and the peplum back pieces on the right. Next, sew the peplum flounces to their corresponding bodice pieces. Place the right sides together, pin in place and sew.
After stitching, finish the seam allowance. I chose to use a serger finish on my raw seam allowance. This is a great choice if you have one!
If not, use another finishing of your choice, like a zigzag, 3-step zigzag or overcast stitch. You can also cut the edge with pinking sheers. Press the seam, pressing the seam allowance up toward the bodice. Again, since this is a curved seam, your pressing ham will come in handy.
Step 5: Sew in the zipper
Before we assemble the rest of the top, insert the zipper into the center back seam. The pattern calls for a regular centered zipper, but I prefer an invisible zipper.
I also prefer to interface zipper seam to add strength and keep the fabric from puckering. Above on the left you can see that I ironed 1″ wide strips to the seam prior to sewing in the zipper. Be sure to cut the interfacing at the waist seam and not press over it
Following your machine’s zipper instructions, sew the zipper in place and finish the rest of the seam to sew it closed. (Here’s more about sewing zippers if you need a refresher.)
Step 6: Sew the shoulder and side seams
To form the body of the top, sew the front bodice and peplum to the back bodice and peplum along the shoulder seams and the side seams with right sides together. Just like with the waist seam, finish the seam allowance in your preferred method and press toward the back.
Step 7: Sew and set in the sleeves
Fold the sleeves in half, right sides together, and sew along the side seam. Finish the seam allowance and press in either direction. A sleeve board can be very helpful when pressing the seam of a sleeve.
To set the sleeve into the top, sew two rows of baste stitches along the cap of the sleeve from the single notch to the double notch. Sew the first row at a 3/8″ seam allowance, and the second row at a 3/4″ seam allowance. Be sure not to backstitch at the beginning and the end, and leave long thread tails for pulling on in the next step.
Place the sleeve into the armscye, right sides together. Match up the single notch, double notch, shoulder seam notch, and underarm seams and pin at each of those four spots first. Next, pin from the underarm seam to the single and double notches. Lastly, pull on the thread tails in the basted section until the sleeve cap matches the shirt and pin in place.
Do your best to work out any gathers so you’re creating a smooth seam. Sew in place, remove the baste stitches, finish the seam allowance and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve. Repeat all of the above on the other sleeve and armscye so both are sewn to the top.
Now all that’s left is the neckline, and the hems.
Step 8: Finish the neckline
Open up your bias binding and place the right sides of the binding and neckline together. Pin the binding to the neckline, keeping the raw edges lined up along the opening. Stitch in place along the fold, trim, and press the binding to the inside of the opening. Topstitch in place.
Step 9: Hem the peplum & sleeves
The hems on the sleeves and the hem along the peplum can simply be finished by folding the fabric up toward the inside of the garment twice. Note that because of the curve of the peplum, these folds need to be no wider than 3/8″, or else the curve will not sit flat. Topstitch the hems in place and give them all a good press with your iron.
And voila — you’re done!