How to Make a Peplum Top (From Any Fitted Bodice Pattern)

As promised today I am sharing with you instructions to make your very own peplum top. I have made mine using the bodice pattern for the Elisalex dress, but you can make one from any fitted top or dress pattern that includes a bodice (i.e not a shift style dress or a shirt pattern). I will try and be as detailed as I can but if you have any questions just ask.

Sewing level: Intermediate, includes a zip and drafting your own half circle peplum.

What you need:
Bodice pattern
1.5m of fabric approx
Invisible zip
Calculator with a pi function (don't get scared about this though)
Sewing Machine
Matching thread
Tape measure
Dressmakers pen/chalk

What you do:
Step 1: First of all cut out your pattern pieces for you bodice, front, back and sides and sew them together according to the instructions in the pattern which they came from but leaving the back seam open. Once you have sewn up the shoulders and your side seams and pressed all your seams try it on and pin it shut to check it fits. Make any alterations you need to but a nice fitted waist will really exaggerate your peplum.

Step 2: Take your top off again. Measure around the waist of the bodice, from one side of the back opening all the way around to the other. Write this measurement down and label it 'a'. This will be the length of the circumference of your peplum. Don't worry if you are no good at maths, I will break it down for you. If you are interested in understanding how to work it out, read the next paragraph, if you would rather just type the numbers in to your calculator then skip over 1 paragraph.

Calulate the radius of your peplum:
My peplum is a half circle not a full circle, I think this gives the peplum just the right amount of flair to keep it flattering. The measurement that you have written down is therefore half the length of the circles circumference, so start by doubling it to get 2a. Now you need to use this to work out the radius of the circle. We have a handy formula linking the circumference and the radius of a circle: circumference = 2 x pi x radius. This tells us the circumference if we already know the radius so we need to rearrange to get: radius = circumference/(2 x pi) or radius = (2a)/(2xpi). But we can simplify this by cancelling the 2's. So type into your calculator a/pi

For those of you not interested in the maths type into your calculator your measurement 'a' divided by 'pi'. Write this measurement down as 'r' (for radius).

Step 3: Now you need to work out how long you want your peplum top to be, so trying on your bodice, measure from the bottom of the top down to where you would like it to finish. Add on your seam allowance for the top and the bottom. Write this measurement down as 'l' (for length).

Step 4: Next you need to draw out your half circle onto your fabric. Fold a rectangle of your fabric in half width-ways. Hold the end of your tape measure (near the 0cm mark) in the corner near the fold and measure out from here your radius you calculated 'r'. Using your dressmakers pen mark a point that is 'r'cm from the corner. Keeping the end of the tape measure in the same place, move the measurement 'r' around and mark several other points to form a quarter circle shape. You are using your tape measure like a pair of compasses. Join your dots up to make a quarter circle, this line is what you will attach to the waist of your bodice. When you have cut it and opened out your fabric you will get the half circle instead of the quarter circle.

Step 5: Now add together the numbers you wrote down 'r+l'. This total is the radius of the bottom of the peplum. Keep the end of the your tape measure (again the 0cm end) in the same corner as before and this time mark points on the top that are 'r+l' cm away from the corner. When you have several of these points drawn on your fabric join them up into a smooth curve. This line is the bottom of your top.

Step 6: Now cut along both of these curves that you have just drawn through both layers of fabric. When you have finished fold it out and you will see that you now have a semi circle arc or a rainbow shape.

Step 7: Pin the shorter curve of your 'rainbow' to the waist of your bodice right sides together. Match up the end of the 'rainbow' with the back seams. Stitch this all the way around. Press your seam up towards the bodice.

Step 8: Sew an invisible zip into the back of the top and then sew together the back seams. Make sure your invisible zip comes lower than the smallest part of the waist or you won't be able to get it on and off!

Step 9: Finish off your top by hemming the bottom of the peplum, use a roll hem or a very small 1/4 hem because its a curve. If you have sleeves as part of your bodice pattern add these too if you haven't already.

Thats it! You have made yourself a very flattering peplum top.

Now just add a bow and you're good to go! Well the bow is optional. Have fun! Zoe xx

PS, normally I do try to get more photos but the gingham didn't work well for a photo tutorial so you will have to just accept my instructions, do ask if they're not clear. x


  1. What a lovely top. I need to attempt to fix my flop of an Elisalex, before I attempt any pattern hacks though. May well return to this at a later date :-)

    1. I love my Elisalex dresses (I've made two so far). You should definitely have another go at yours.


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