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T(h)utorial Thursday: Adding a Peplum to the New York Minute Dress

The New York Minute Dress is not just a dress pattern, but did you know it also includes a bonus tutorial to make a pullover top?  Today we’re going to share with you how to take it a step further and add a sweet little drop waist peplum top pattern.

Peplums are such a great way to dress up a casual fleece top, and with this one, you can still add several of the other options that already come with the pattern, like the kangaroo pocket, hood, ribbing, or whatever you choose!

Make sure you have a copy of the New York Minute Dress pattern!  This pattern is designed to be a quick sew using those fun fleece fabrics we love to stock up on.  If you don’t have fleece, don’t fear, there are several other fabric recommendations like french terry, interlock, velour, and some have even sewn it up using cotton lycra!  It’s also available in sizes 12 months to 9/10 years.

Let’s go ahead and jump right in shall we?!

Choose a Size

After printing and assembling your pattern, you will want to wait before making any size changes.  Make sure to select the size based on your child’s chest measurement.  If your child is in between sizes, the pattern recommends sizing down for the dress, but if you want to layer this top version, go ahead and size up.  Also note your child’s height size, but save that for later.

My daughter’s chest measurement is 21.5″, so she falls smack dab in size 3, and I’m going with that.  Her height is 43″ and puts her in size 5 for length.

Creating the Top

To determine the drop waist length for the top, measure from your child’s underarm to their upper hip, or wherever you would like the peplum to start.  If you don’t have access to that measurement, go ahead and use the chart below (the chart’s measurements include seam allowance).  I recommend using your child’s height measurement for your cut length.

My daughter measures 8″, and I’m adding 3/8″ for seam allowance, so my total length measurement is 8 3/8″.

Taking your NYM front and back pattern pieces and a ruler, draw a straight line from the underarm seam straight down the number of inches you just measured, then draw a line straight across to the center fold line.  If you’re using the cut chart, remember to use the chest size for the underarm seam, and the height size for the cut length.

I drew an 8 3/8″ line straight down from the underarm seam for both my front and back pattern pieces.


To figure out the size of your peplum piece we’ll need to do a little simple math so grab a calculator.  Don’t worry, we’ll break it down into little bite sized steps!  You can also use the charts below if you would prefer to (chart measurements include seam and hem allowance).

Peplum Width

Step 1:  Measure the width of your waist pattern piece and multiply it by 4.

My waist piece is 6.25″ wide, so I multiplied that by 4 and now have 25.

Step 2:  For heavier fleece and knits, or for less gathers, multiply your number in step 1 by 1.25.  For lighter knit fabric, or for more gathers, multiply your number in step 1 by 1.5.

I’m making both versions to show as an example in the same fabric, you would only choose one.  These are my peplum width calculations.

Step 3:  Now take that final number and add 3/4″ for seam allowance (3/8″ for each side).

Peplum Length

For the length of the peplum piece, I used the chart on NYM pattern page 14 to derive these measurements.  If you would like it longer or shorter, just add or subtract from the number under your size.

My daughter is a size 5 for height, so using 5″ for length, these are my final peplum measurements LxW:

Also make any changes to the length of your sleeve’s pattern piece at this point and choose your neckline option.  If you want to include the kangaroo pocket, follow the instructions on page 14 of the pattern.

To help you choose…

This version has less gathers.  The peplum is basically eased into the top.

This version has more gathers and plenty of poof.

Here is the hoodie version with more gathers and a kangaroo pocket.

That’s a lot of preparation, or at least it looks that way, but it goes quickly right?

Sewing the Peplum

Well now let’s get sewing!  We’ll start on Step 2 of the pattern, with the sleeves.  Continue with each step, omitting the pocket steps, until you reach Step 6.

You should have your top done except for the bottom.  Taking your peplum piece, fold it in half right sides together, and sew the short ends using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Now follow the hemming instructions in step 6a of your pattern to hem your peplum piece.

Next, sew two rows of gathering stitches at the top of your peplum piece using your favorite gathering method, but don’t gather yet.

Turn your peplum piece so the wrong side is facing out and mark center and sides with pins.

Place your top right side out, inside of the peplum piece.  Pin peplum to top matching the center back of your top with the seam of your peplum.  Pin the center front and sides of your pieces.

Gather until your peplum and top openings match and sew together using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Carefully press your seam towards the top, remove any visible gathering stitches, and topstitch to help it lay flat.  If you’re adding a pocket you would also do that now.

A little sneak peak at this adorable free kitty face pocket tutorial that’s in the works.  Some hand stitching and a heart-shaped stud for the nose, and I LOVE the way it turned out!

Now you have a dropwaist peplum top!  It’s fashionable and cozy!

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