Monday, March 12, 2012

tutorial: how to add a peplum to a blouse

Want to add a little flare (literally) to a standard blouse pattern -- or even an existing RTW blouse? It's super simple and probably very intuitive to most of you anyway, but I thought I'd share with you how I created a small peplum on this blouse using elastic. I guess I just thought this floral print wasn't feminine enough? Seriously, sometimes I wonder what my 11-year-old Adidas-wearin' tomboy self would say if she could see me now.

A peplum is a short "skirt" of fabric attached to the waistline of a fitted dress, skirt or blouse. They've become trendy again, but they seem like a pear-shaped girl's nightmare. Let's add ruffly attention-drawing volume to our already prominent hips, why don't we?
But, IMO, a small and subtly-flared blouse peplum is more workable and wearable for my body type than a skirt peplum. As per usual, I cinched the garment close to the natural waist, and made the peplum short so it doesn't stop at the widest part of my hips. This vintage blouse was my inspiration: 

OK let's go!
Note: Cutting and re-sewing the peplum will shorten the blouse by the length of the two added seam allowances. Be aware of this and accommodate your fabric as necessary; in my case, I cut the pattern as usual and was fine knowing it would be shorter in the end.

Step 1) Use a blouse that is already attached at the side seams. My original blouse wasn't that loose but did have a slight A-line shape, meaning it would create a little flare once the elastic was added. A very tight or straight blouse may not work as well. Start by marking where you would like the elastic to be. Cut along this line. You may decide not to cut at all, and simply fold the fabric to the inside before stitching the necessary seam allowance. I cut mine so I wouldn't have to measure the fold all the way around; it's an easier way (for me) to sew a more accurate line.

Step 2) Turn the garment inside out and re-attach the bottom by pinning right sides together. Make sure you realign any vertical seams or stripes/plaids if you have any. Of course this method will cut into and shorten the print of your fabric, so it may be best to use a print where continuity isn't that important, like busy florals or dots instead of words or a large-scale print of your favorite celebrity's face or something, you weirdo.

Step 3) Stitch using a 5/8" (16mm) seam allowance. Do not trim any of the seam allowance, but do finish the raw edge using a zig-zag stitch or serger. The seam allowance will become the elastic casing, so you can make it wider or narrower depending on the width of your elastic.

Step 4) Press the seam up toward the top of the garment. I pinned it in place to prevent the bottom layer from rolling.

Step 5) I planned to use 1/4" (~6mm) elastic, so I stitched about 3/8" (10mm) away from the seam line so the casing could accommodate the width of the elastic. This was basically down the center of my serged stitches. Leave an opening between the beginning and end of your line of stitches so you can insert the elastic in the casing you just made.

Step 6) To measure the length of my elastic, I wrapped it around my waist where it would sit (without stretching it at all), then shortened that measurement by two inches. Be sure to check it again to make sure the elastic stretches comfortably at that length so it's not too tight or loose. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and weave it through the casing, making sure the other end doesn't pull through where you won't be able to reach it. You can always pin the other end to the garment so it doesn't get pulled in... (or just hold it in your teeth like I do, ha).

Step 7) Once it's weaved all the way through, overlap the two ends of the elastic, pin in place, then secure them with a zig-zag stitch. I use a short zig-zag back and forth several times so the thread is very dense.

Step 8) Make sure the elastic lays flat inside the casing, then stitch the gap closed along the same line as in Step 5. This completely encloses the elastic.

Step 9) Hem the garment as usual and that's it! You're adorable.

You can certainly make a more dramatic (ruffly) peplum by initially cutting a bottom piece that's wider than the garment, basting some gathering stitches, then gathering the fabric before making the elastic casing. You could gather the fabric and omit the elastic completely, as long as there's a zipper or buttons of some sort to let you get the whole thing on and off.

Curious about this blouse? Details about the original pattern will come later, just you wait. Hint: OWOP!