Monday, 31 December 2012

Peplum top - BWOF 08/2012/113

I wanted to make something nice to wear on Christmas day, and thought it would be great to fill in a gap in my wardrobe at the same time, in this case "nice going out top". It needed to be something I wouldn't overheat in, but was pretty, and this pattern fit the bill (and was something I've had my eye on sewing since it first appeared in August).

As a bit of background, we spent our Christmas with friends in Liechtenstein again this year. Last year it was really snowy, and we'd been hoping to go snow-shoeing again this year, but it was weirdly warm this time round (as in around 12˚C) so there was no snow in town, and most of the pistes and trails were closed because of avalanche risk. We did go for a little walk, but on the flat to the town just across the border, which has a very pretty castle and old town (please click on that link and look at the photos, they are so much better than mine and it is SO PRETTY). The pictures of me wearing this top were taken on Christmas day, on our friends' balcony - not a bad view, eh?!

Pattern description

Fitted top with draped peplum, cap sleeves and back zipper.

Pattern sizing

34-42. I normally cut a 44 on the top half, but I had read several reviews of this pattern that said it was very generously sized, so I cut the 42 and muslined it. With an FBA, this actually fit fine across the shoulders and upper chest, and I just needed to let it out at the side seams a little.

Fabric used

Silk twill, bought years ago on eBay, and fully lined with rayon challis from to add a little body and opacity to the silk.

Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done?


Were the instructions easy to follow?

I actually didn't refer to the instructions at all, apart from the cutting layout. I used Melissa's method for fully lining the top, slightly modified as I wanted to also line the peplum section and because I was using an exposed zipper. I've noted these modifications in the "construction details" section below.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Peplums are still pretty ubiquitous at the moment in RTW, and this seems an easy trend to follow if you make your own clothes. I think the peplum of this top is extremely well drafted - the curved waistline and bias-cut peplum section are surprisingly flattering.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made/Drafting details

I needed to do an FBA, so added a side bust dart as well as the waist dart. Even without adding extra excess, the single waistline dart seems very large, and I would have probably split it anyway. I made my usual forward shoulder adjustment: moving the shoulder seams forward 5mm at the neck and 10mm at the shoulder point, adding a little to the back armscye and scooping out the front armscye a little. I also raised the back neckline and lowered the front neckline.

I had originally intended to make the long-sleeved version, but when I muslined it I found the close-fitting sleeve too restrictive, so I opted for the short sleeve version. As I had already made the forward shoulder adjustment to the long sleeve (by cutting across the top of the sleeve cap, moving 10mm toward the front and reshaping), I just cut the top off this with a curved hem to use as the short sleeve rather than tracing the Burda piece. I adjusted this a little more for my forward shoulders when it was in place in the muslin. You can see the finished shape below - I find I need no ease along the back half of the armscye, but a moderate amount at the front of the sleeve cap (Fashion Incubator wrote an interesting piece on sleeve cap ease, or rather lack of it). If (when?) I make this top again, I will lessen the curve of the bottom of the sleeves a little as they have a tendency to flip up when I move my arms around (as seen in the preview picture at the end of the previous post).

Construction details

As I mentioned above, I used Melissa's method to line the top, with the following modifications (partly because I was using an exposed zip, and partly because I also lined the peplum section). For the exposed zip I used the excellent tutorial at Pattern Runway - I like this one as I prefer to have the edges and ends of the zipper tape hidden.

  • In steps 1 & 2, I didn't attach the peplum pieces to the main pieces of either the shell or the lining, and I also finished the edges at the CB and staystitched the shell for the zip opening.
  • To make sure things laid flat (see the interesting discussion on dominant seams on Fashion Incubator), when sewing the lining and shell together at the armscyes (step 5) I stopped just before the seam allowance of the side seams. The side seams of the lining and shell were sewn separately, the small section of armscye seam completed, and the underarm seam understitched.
  • After step 8 I went my own way...
  • The peplums in the shell and lining were assembled, the staystitching for the zip opening was sewn, and the open CB seam allowance finished. The shell and lining were then sewn wrong sides together at the hem and CB seam below the zip opening, flipped and pressed.
  • The shell peplum and bodice were sewn together at the waist, making sure the lines of staystitching were matched exactly, and the seam allowances pressed upwards.
  • Using the Pattern runway tutorial, the zipper was inserted - I basted it before sewing rather than just pinning it.

  • I tried to work out if I could somehow sew the lining waist seam by machine and flip it to minimise handsewing, but it kept ending up as a passable impression of a Klein bottle, so after a bit of swearing and headscratching, I decided to just stitch the peplum lining to the waist seam "in the ditch", then slipstitch the bodice lining to the waist seam, hiding the seam allowances.
  • Finally, I added a hook and eye at the top of the zip and slipstitched the lining along the zip opening.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I'm not sure I need two peplum tops in my wardrobe, but I do rather like it, so I might make it again - probably in a plain fabric. I would definitely recommend this pattern to others - it's well drafted (apart from the huge waist dart, but that's easy to modify) and very flattering.


I'm really pleased with this top. There is something a little off about the fit on me (I can't quite work it out, but I think most probably the waist seam needs to be lengthened along the back so the top is a bit wider across the top of my derrière - or I just need to lose the Christmas weight...), but it looks much better than anything I could buy RTW! The arms are a little restrictive, but then with this style of close-fitting top in a non-stretch fabric this is always going to be the case. I'm super pleased that this is probably the best thing I've made in terms of quality of make and finishing - it looks so nice and neat on the inside! So overall a success, and a top that will be useful as part of a "going out" outfit.

Bonus garment!

I decided I wanted to wear this with a skirt, but my jeans skirt made it a bit bunchy at the waist, and it wasn't great with my black doubleknit pencil skirt. What I really needed was a yellow skirt. Bearing in mind, I finished the top the day before leaving for Christmas, and still hadn't packed at this point, I figured a full on pencil skirt wasn't going to be happening, so a nice simple jersey/doubleknit tube skirt was the way to go (also: comfy for sitting around in post-Christmas-dinner).

This took me about an hour to make, including tracing a pattern from my black skirt. I used "pyjama" elastic for the top - SO soft! - which is just serged on (with the blade swung up) on the inside, and then turned under and top-stitched with a zig-zag. The hem is just turned up once and sewn with a zig-zag. I haven't taken separate photos as it's not terribly exciting, but you can see me wearing it in the other photos in this post.

I did realise when I unpacked it that the bottom of the CB seam is VERY wonky. I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that I sewed one of the back pieces upside down... Meh, it doesn't bother me too much in this sort of quick and cheerful skirt. The fabric doesn't have great recovery, and although I cut it a little narrower to allow for this, I could have taken some more out the width as it has bagged a little. I will probably recut and remake rather than adjusting this though.

Conclusive conclusion

Overall a successful outfit, it was comfy for spending the day lounging around in, and I felt nice all day. The top feels delicious to wear, and I think both pieces will be worn again frequently.


  1. Oh I've just discovered your blog and realised that I'd inadvertently copied your peplum top with an exposed zip. Yours looks fabulous!