Peplum Top


The month of May 2014 was decreed by the sewing blogosphere (or a good part thereof) to be “Sewing Indie Month” – a month-long celebration of some of the fantastic independent pattern designers out there.


What is it that makes these trailblazers so awesome? Let me count the ways:

  1. Firstly, the style of indie patterns tends to be fresh, modern and clean. The same cannot always be said for the big 4 (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick and Simplicity), whose patterns can sometimes feel a little fussy and dated. Side note – if you want a giggle, check out Lladybird’s reviews each time Vogue release a new line. Honestly, on a grey day, posts like this and this are all I need.
  2. Secondly, indie patterns tend to be written in a friendly, jargon-free, accessible way. They don’t assume you have 10 years of experience, they just want you to be able to make something you will wear and love. This makes them ideal for newbs.
  3. Thirdly, in addition to the patterns themselves, a lot of indie designers post blog tutorials and host sewalongs to give you even more support and encouragement. This not only makes things easier, it also connects you to a community of sewists who are all working on the same thing, which I love.

I could go on but let’s get back to Indie Sewing Month. As part of the celebration there were a number of challenges set, one of which was “pattern hacking” – taking a pattern and modifying or customizing it in some way. I’d never really done this (unless you count sticking a gathered skirt on the Elisalex pattern, but that is super simples) so I thought I’d give it a go and try to create a peplum top.

Now, I have to admit, this is a trend that had largely passed me by until the oh-so-stylish peplum-queen Chinelo Bally landed on my tellybox in GBSB II.

p01wjpxdWas anyone else totally mesmerised by everything Chinelo wore/made? And that freehand cutting business?? Actual magic. I heard a rumour that she’s started teaching classes too – UK sewing friends, get on it!!

Having decided on the pattern, the fabric choice was easy – the geeky glasses/blue chevron Echino linen/cotton I picked up in Japan. Yellow on the bodice, chevron on the peplum – I could see it in my mind’s eye and it was good!


I chose BHL’s Anna dress as my base bodice, since I thought the slash neck and kimono sleeves would give the large print plenty of room to play with. This also gave me an opportunity to revisit the pattern and address the fit issues I noticed on my first attempt. I made toiles people – two of em. I used Ginger’s awesome cut-and-pivot method on the front and back to take out the bagginess on the neckline. I tacked in an invisible zip (instead of guessing and pinning). It was a proper job, and the result was a much better fit… I should probably accept that these things go hand-in-hand!


Stashbusting toile

When it came to the peplum, toil-ing it up was super straightforward. I used the calculations for a standard circle skirt, estimated the length (20cm), tried it on with the bodice to work out where the waist seam should be, and then tacked it on. I loved the look and got very excited at this point. I then got out my “proper” fabric and my heart sank a little. The strip of blue chevron was faaaaar too thin to do the peplum I wanted – wah! I decided to carefully sew strips of the chevron together until I got a piece that was wide enough. Even with 3 m worth of pieces there still wasn’t quite enough for my full circle, but we’ll come back to that later.

To avoid having an(other) seam down the front, I cut out one half circle and two quarter circles, adding an additional seam allowance to the quarter circles (for the zip). This also gave me a chance to pattern-match all the seams.

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I tried to be careful with my pattern placement on the bodice too, making sure to pattern match across the back as best I could, and positioning the glasses so they sat nice and whole under the neckline. Things get a little funky around the darts but I don’t think that can be helped… TBH I also totally forgot about the shoulders so it’s a bit of a mess up there. Moving on.

This was my first experience using an invisible zip foot and it went surprisingly smoothly – at first. That was until I noticed that the waistline didn’t exactly match up. Bouyed by the apparent easiness of the whole invisible zip lark, I unpicked the area around the zip, re-pinned and went again. THIS WAS AN ERROR. I ended up having two goes and still the zip is undeniably less invisible around the waistline. Excessive ironing helped but didn’t totally fix the problem. Lesson learned – do not mess with a well-inserted invisible zip.


Lastly I cut some wide strips of bias binding from the yellow to finish the edge of the peplum and disguise the areas where the pattern runs out. As I said, I’m pretty delighted with the finished item. I love the dramatic silhouette.

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So that’s my hack. This challenge is being hosted by Rhonda over at Rhonda’s Creative Life. Head over to see all the impressive hacks other folks have come up with. Including another superdooper peplum top, using the Elisalex as a base. Must put that on my to do list…

Siobhan xx