Peplum Tee Variation + Fabric Fairy Giveaway// Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years, Baby Lock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.


The fun thing about a having a solid and basic tee pattern (either drafted by measurements, based off a favorite you own, or from a commercial pattern) is to be able to play with and vary it.  There are so many ways to change it up, and today we’re going to scratch the surface by demonstrating a couple of our favorites. I’m going to walk you through how to make the very trendy and feminine Peplum tops, and Miranda is sharing  how to make a couple different dress variations based off just a basic tee.

Peplums are pretty basic–just a tee with a skirt attached, right? They’re  flouncy and fun, and surprisingly I like them just as much on me as I do on my little gal.

Circle skirt variation:

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First step is to make a tee; use either a commercial pattern, draft one from measurements, or make one from a favorite your already own. For this girl’s tee I used an old favorite Ottobre 2/2012 #35 (I’ve made this tee maybe 5-6 times, and love it.)  Cut the pattern short where you want the peplum to begin (somewhere near the navel), and then construct and finish! Measure the unfinished bottom edge of the the shirt to get it’s circumference.  Whatever that number is, subtract about 2 inches, and then divide by 4 (because this will all be cut on the bias, it stretches and it’s better to shoot small and need to adjust later than to cut too big!) Now that you know the quarter waist measurement, you’ll want to cut a square of fabric that when folded into quarters will be long enough for the peplum;  you’ll be measuring from the center folded corner out, but remember you’ll be subtracting several inches to cut the waist out.  Pinch a measuring tape the distance of your quarter waist, and then arrange in at the corner and cut that amount out. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress too much.  From the cut-out waist, measure out however long you want the peplum to be and mark. Repeat, rotating the tape so that you’ve marked an arc across the square corner.
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Cut along your marks.  mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tutorial_03

Open circle and check the waist opening to the bottom edge; they don’t have to be exact, you can ease the skirt to the top, but hopefully you’re pretty close.

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Before adding the skirt, take a second to iron some  magical knit stay tape to the bottom edge of your shirt so that the seam doesn’t stretch out at all while attaching the skirt.

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Right sides together, pin the skirt to the bottom edge of the skirt, easing any differences. Serge, or zig zag. 
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Finish bottom edge however you choose, I opted for the super fast rolled hem stretched to create a lettuce edge. 
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(fabric: fabulous striped knit via the Fabric Fairy)

Asymmetrical Circle Skirt variation:

This variation is so whimsical and plays into the hi-low trend. You do everything the same as for the normal circle peplum, except that you DO NOT cut out the waist opening to start with.

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So make your shirt, cut out a square of fabric, measure out from folded corner to make the circle, and cut circle.
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Now unfold your quarterd circle once so that you have a folded half circle. Refold, but instead of  matching the edges, have one edge be several inches short of the other. This picture is kind of hard to see, but the top fold is about three inches short of the bottom.  This will make your waist circle off-center within the circle skirt, and the more offset that fold is, the more off center your waist circle will, and the more dramatic your hi-low.  As you can see I went for a subtle offset. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation07

Attach as directed above, and finish the hem as you choose. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation08

I attached the hi and low points at the side seams, but for a front to back hi/low skirt just attach the high and low points to the center front and back.
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fabric from the Fabric Fairy

Gathered Skirt Variation:

This last variation I decided to try for myself. I’ve never sported the peplum look, and was a little nervous to just because I feel like it can look pretty youthful, and I am, afterall, 30 now. Can I sport such a young, flirty look?  Well I decided to give a whirl, and I was really genuinely surprised to love it as much as I do!

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Make your tee, but during cutting fold your pattern up where you want your peplum to begin (I used Sewaholic‘s Renfrew Tee). I was a little cautious and made my tee a little longer than I had intended ( I didn’t want to end up Babydolled!). .   Now cut a rectangle of fabric that is as long as you want your peplum to be (plus seam allowances) and is about 1.5 times your shirt’s unfinished bottom edge circumference.  My fabric was thin so I really could have 2X’d it, but I’d rather have it be a little flat than froofy #amiright? (I love hashtagging incorrectly).   mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation02

Gather the skirt top edge (my favorite method is to zig zag over a string), and then add knit stay tape to the unfinished bottom edge of your tee.

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First pin the half points of the skirt to the side seams, and then pull your string to gather the skirt to the same circumference as your top.  Distribute your gathers evenly, and then pin well.  Serge/zig zag. Finish hems as desired. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation04

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Don’t miss Miranda‘s fabulous tee shirt dress variations and also enter to win our $50 Fabric Fairy giveaway! Fabric Fairy has a fantastic selection and exceptional costumer service, and we’re so happy to partner with them to give some of that knit-awesomeness to you!

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM






Love the hi low hem on your daughter…. got some time to whip up a few hopefully for the winter as my daughter will be at kinder. knits are so comfy and I find fit her better.


Hi Miriam,

absolutely LOVE your Series (Greets to Miranda as well – the dresses she made yesterday look awesome). And already learned something from Mirandas first post on the different types of knit and your post on the ways to finish edges and I will definitely draw my own Tee pattern as I am desperately in need of a few new Tees myself – thanks to my -not so new anymore- serger they will be sewn up in a breeze. Love the Peplum variation too and will whip up some for my daughter as they will be a create companion to her daily “shirt+tights” combo (leaving here looking a bit more dressed up with a tunic/dress length version).

I just got a new batch of Jersey Knit delivered (I spent around 180 EUR on some really great stuff – all just 0,5 m long so I can mix and match alot) and they are already doing the cycles in the washing machine (I ordered lots of dots and stripes as some variations to the solids and prints I still have on stock)… I am itching to get started – already dreamed up so many design ideas – if I had more time though between working 35+ h/week, caring for my kiddo, studying for my degree in bussiness adm. and the household ….
Actually I am thinking of opening my own design/sew-blog so I can share my ideas and the garments I make and get some feedback. If I do so I will let you know 😉

Greets from Germany,


All those combos sound SO cute, I would love to see what you do. I love mixing and matching prints, I don’t do it enough. If you ever do start a blog, let me know!


Wow! Thank you for this! I would like to sew this for my Yoga class.
You mentioned that the circle needed to be 2″ smaller than the T shirt bottom for kids. How about for adults? If you could give me an advice, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!


Yep, two inches shorter for any circle peplum, you’ll be surprised how it turns out to be the right circumference. Because it’s all cut on the bias and also folded four times, it usually turns out just about right. Good luck!


Miriam – thanks! I will make it soon.
Just for your information, I will calculate the radius of the circle and use a thread to draw the line for the peplum’s hole.
The radius can be calculated by:
((The length of the bottom of the T minus 2 inches)) divided by 3.14 = Diameter
Then half the diameter is the radius.

Tamryn H

This was exactly the information I needed to add a peplum to a too-short RTW t-shirt for me. I think peplums are for grown-ups too, not just for kids. Thank you!

Lucinda Poel

Hi! I love that tshirt pattern you used for the peplum top, and have the past year of Ottobre magazines. However, the 2/2012 issue is the women’s magazine . . . do you know magazine you used for the tshirt? Perhaps the 3/2012 which is the summer issue? Any help would be appreciated – thank you!!


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