See how to make a peplum top

Peplum tank top

I never thought I would like peplums. They look lovely on other people but since I am pear shaped and not particularly tall I avoid anything fussy and colourful around my hip area. When I added a peplum to an old tank top a few months back – see here – I thought that top would lurk at the bottom of my pile and not get worn.

Turns out peplums can be surprisingly flattering. Even for those of us who are pear shaped. I absolutely love that top and as fast as it comes out the wash I wear it again. So I decided to add a ‘peplum like frill’ to a few more of my old tank tops.

You could do this DIY with just about any top. T-Shirts and button-down shirts are also good for this kind of make-over. It’s an especially great make-over for tops that are waaay too short.

There are a few things you have to get right for this DIY to work: –

You need to short tops and soft fabric for the frill
  1. You need to ensure your top is either cut to below the waist or is a short top.
  2. You also want a top that is not too wide either or your will feel like you have a tractor tyre around your hips. If your top is wide you can take it in at the side seams to give a snug fit.
  3. The fabric of the top must be firmer than the fabric or the gathering will distort the shape of the top.
  4. You must not have more than 10% to 20% of the width of the tank top in gathered fabric or the ‘peplum’ will look like a ballet tutu. Not the intended look!
  5. Ideally you want a soft fabric that falls nicely for your peplum so your it drapes well. I used a soft black cotton and a sage green – Pongee lining.
  6. Your peplum/ruffle should not be too long or the outfit will become more of a dress than a top. Then again you may want to make a short dress and this is exactly how you do it. Use a long T-Shirt to add more length to achieve that.

Cut a long thin band of fabric approx 20% wider than top

Here’s how you make my peplum top: –

Gather the frill with contrast colour fabric
Pin ruffle to hem and stitch in place. NB. I had too much fabric here.

Try on your tank top to see where the hem lies. You need to cut the top to no more than 5 – 8 centimetres below your natural waistline.

Place it flat on the floor and pin it to make sure you cut evenly. The last thing you want is a lopsided top.

Next, take the fabric you want to use for your peplum/frill and cut a piece approximately 20 centimetres x the width of your top PLUS an extra 20% to 30%. It will be a long thin band of fabric.

Stitch the two short sides together to make a loop.

Gather the one long side of the fabric with a contrasting colour thread so you can find it later to unpick.

Pull the contrasting colour thread so the peplum/ruffle gathers up to fit the top.

Pin the peplum/ruffle to the top. Make sure you have RIGHT SIDES FACING each other on the inside. You do not want to sew and then find it has been sewn inside out. If you are not sure, it’s easy to work it out. Pin it and try it on. You will quickly see if you have got it wrong.

Sew your peplum/ruffle to your top and then unpick the contrast thread you used to make gathers.

Make sure you are happy with the length of your peplum. You can shorten now if it’s too long.

Sew a hem in your peplum. Iron your new top and you’re good to go.

Check out the Greenie Galleries, they’re at the top of the page. Why? You will find hundreds of older posts showing how to DIY and not buy.

See you soon.