Peplum Tee Tutorial

  • 1 1/4 - 2 yards stretch fabric
  • comfortable t-shirt to use as a pattern
Use a favorite stretchy pullover top from your closet as a pattern base for the top. Adding a peplum "skirt" just below your waistline adds interest and shape to a basic t-shirt fabric. So often, peplum shirts are constructed from heavy lace or brocades. Though beautiful, they are often too heavy or too dressy for casual wear, which is where my favorite fabric comes in: jersey!

Step One
Lay out the main body of your top. Manipulate the fabric at the armholes, making sure to get a decent curve. Remember to add an inch or two for seam allowances; more, if the fabric you're using isn't as stretchy as your original shirt or you want a looser fit. Following the natural body-skimming line of the shirt is fine, just don't get too narrow: it has to slip on over your head and shoulders, remember! Adjust the length to hit a few inches below your belly button. You can always cut a deeper neckline later, so start small. Cut two pieces of fabric. *If you are skilled enough, you could make a button-down or zipped shirt out of any fabric.
* I like to lay out my raw fabric with the right sides together and cut it that way, to save time. It may help to trace the shape onto the fabric with tailor's chalk before cutting. When I can't find my chalk, I add even more leeway and use dots of marker as cutting guides ✄ 

Step 2 (Optional)
You can make a sleeves top, or even a sleeveless bustier type thing if you want to! I wanted sleeves, so I'll show you how I made them. To avoid seams on the upper arms, I folded my fabric first. Use the shirt laid flat as a guide. Mark the point where the shoulder meets the top of the sleeve, and where the underarm seam is. Use these points to sketch a curved shape onto your fabric; this will be the arm hole. Adjust the length and width of the sleeves as desired.

Step Three
Now to cut out the flirty-skirty part. I made a curved shape that met the waist of the top and flared outward, 8" long. The larger the curve, the more bell-shaped the peplum, for example if you use more fabric and make a full half-moon peplum. If drafting a curved shape sounds a bit daunting for you, just cut out long rectangles that are at least twice as wide as the waist of each shirt piece (from Step One). This will allow you to pleat the peplum skirt to fit at the waist, which is how the greet tee on the lower left of the inspo pic appears to be made.

Step Four
Sewing it all together! I like to use a narrow zig-zag stitch on stretchy fabrics instead of a straight stitch, to allow the fabric to move instead of pull at the seams.
  • With the right sides facing each other, sew the top together at the shoulders.
  • Match the center top of each sleeve to the outside of the shoulder seams and sew sleeves to bodice.
  • Sew each peplum piece to the bottom of each bodice piece, making sure to match center points. 
  • Starting at the sleeves, sew the whole top together (sleeve to armpit, armpit to waist seam, waist seam to hem). I left the edges raw to add to the "casual" lean, but finishing the neck and hems with contrasting red fabric would be really cute, too.