how to sew a peplum shirt

I know, peplum tops have been around for a while now, but I’m a little slow to pick up on trends, so this is my first attempt at making one. Turns out it’s not hard at all, especially if you already have a t-shirt pattern you like. If not, you can trace a shirt that fits well to make your own pattern for the top of the shirt – then the peplum is really just a half circle skirt added on. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions and photos.

how to make a peplum top | easy sewing tutorial | women's peplum shirt


Now, before we start with the tutorial, let me explain a bit first: there are two different types of peplums. One is a gathered peplum, which just consists of gathered fabric added onto the bottom of a shirt. It looks like this:


This is very easy to do. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most flattering look on those of us who might be a little thicker around the waist. The other type of peplum is what I like to call a half circle peplum, and it looks like this:


This is much more flattering on me because instead of adding extra fabric at my waistline like a gathered peplum, it creates the illusion of an hourglass figure. This type of peplum is a little more complicated than a gathered peplum, and it’s what I’m going to show you how to do today.

You’ll likely need more than one yard of fabric for a peplum top, so you might want to get one and a half to be sure. Here’s what you’ll do:


(I used my raglan sleeve easy tee pattern and took it in along the sides. You can print it out in size L. If you’re smaller than that, you’ll want to trace a tee to make your own pattern, like you can see in this post.)

how to sew circle skirt

If you have to read that more than once, don’t feel bad. Half circle skirts (which is what this peplum is) are a little hard to wrap your head around, but once you give it a try it makes more sense. Oh, and I was originally planning to make this a dress, not a top, which is why the peplum looks so long in the photo above.


(Again, this looks like a dress in the next photo, not a shirt. Don’t worry, same concept, yours will just be shorter!)

peplum shirt

Depending on how stretchy your fabric is, the skirt might be bigger around the waist than the shirt is. No problem, just sew down the side seams to take it in. If it’s too small, just trim 1/4-1/2 inch off the top (the inside curve of your donut) to make it a little bigger.


This is what your shirt will look like once it’s put together.

polka dot peplum shirt

When I first sewed mine up, I didn’t like it much. I realized I needed the waist (where the shirt and peplum meet) to be a little bit higher. So I unpicked it, cut another inch or two off the shirt, and sewed it back together. I also took it in a little more along the side seams.

Then it’s just a matter of finishing the neckline and sleeves (as usual), and giving it a hem. Very narrow hems are easiest on peplums like this one.


And that’s it! A trendy new top for about $7.50. I used this fabric from Girl Charlee and I think it’s PERFECT for a peplum shirt. It stretches, but it’s a lot stiffer than many knits, which gives the peplum a little body and allows the shirt to be more fitted without being clingy. A softer knit will give a drapier peplum – check out an example of that in this post.

how to make a peplum top | easy sewing tutorial | women's peplum shirt

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    Thank you for the explanation about the different types of peplums. I definitely have some “extra” in the middle so I will be trying style number two 🙂

  3. 4

    GrandmaSue9 says

    I love the longer peplum; it hides more tummy. I have seen several re-dos of a shirt that are just too short ; and they are gathered. YUK!

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    I adore your peplum top! Thank you so much for the great tutorials and Basic Tee pattern variations. I have them all Pinned to make up as I have time. I like your style and appreciate you sharing your knowledge & tutorials. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  5. 8


    Hi Autumn! What a great tutorial and love the top. I really appreciate you shopping with us at Girl Charlee and mentioning us in your post. Keep on Sewing!!


  6. 11

    joan says

    Thanks for the great ideas and tutorials, you make it look so easy! Well here goes I plan to give it a try.

  7. 12

    Evelyn says

    Thank you for this method. There’s another application of peplum as a curved seam that makes a flattering lower edge. Have kept it in my someday file. It is just for the lower back of a suit jacket. Would be ideal to frame a different fabric such as lace for the upper back. The flare width covers the slight weight gains of traveling etc.

  8. 14

    marina says

    Just ehat i was looking for!!! I dont like the look of thr gathered waist for it does add thickness and weightaround midline . This is simple and elegant, just enough to give you the illusion of a waist. Thankyou so much. I will be doing it tomorrow

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      autumn says

      You’re welcome! My waistline is quite negligible as well (great way to put it) and I love how this style looks.

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    I have always beena bit scared of tops, but seeing all the things I can do from one basic pattern is giving me so much hope! I’ve thinking that this with long sleeves would be a lovely autumn/winter top for the office, and what do you know, you have a tutorial for adding long sleeves!

    Thank you so much

  10. 21

    lawahine says

    This is a great tutorial! Thank you. My question is what type of fabric did you use? The link you included is no longer available.

  11. 22

    71la says

    Thank for this tutorial. I’ve been reading others peplum tutorials, and was more clueless than when I started. My daughter is going to be excited I figured it out. 🙂

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    Nancy says

    First, let me say that you have some phenomenal tutorials. So clearly stated and easy to use! I had already made a dress, using a remodeled t shirt and a piece of fabric I had bought. I didn’t like the way it turned out because of my thick waist. So I decided to add this peplum, after everything else was all put together. It was so bulky and hard to handle on the machine! I had to sew pieces of a black t shirt together to have enough to cut the half-circle properly, so I came out with these slanted seams on the peplum. Then, as I was sewing the peplum to the original t shirt top (I placed it a bit higher than the waistband) I found that I had to let it gather in places that I hadn’t planned. But – in for a penny/ in for a pound – I just kept sewing that seam. By a happy and serendipitous occurrence the gathers came out at some strategic places, coordinating with the slanted seams and I got an accidental great design.
    Thanks for sharing your discoveries with us.

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    Am a beginner and was yearning to create something. Found some stash. That too cotton but went about following your tutorial. Thanks a ton for the simple lucid explanations. It turned out perfect . The magic in your math! The peplum fits perfect to the bodice peice. Wow…

  14. 27

    Joy says

    Thank you for a honest, staight forward and easy tutorial. I was definitely inspired to try making mine.


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