Start your sewing adventure with us.

Join Seamwork Now

Pattern Hackers: Create a Back Peplum

Break the rules with three pattern hacks for the Rachel shirt.

Posted in: Tutorials & Techniques • November 30, 2018

Everyone knows that sewing gives you superpowers. First on that long list is the ability to break the rules and make garments that represent you and your taste. We want to encourage you to think of our patterns as a blank canvas that you can customize to truly suit your style.

Our pattern hacks are designed to teach you hacking basics that help you customize patterns so that you can become a confident pattern hacker. Each month, we will show you how to draft and sew one new pattern hack, and we’ll share links to two additional pattern hacks from our pattern hacks library.

You'll Need:

  • The Rachel shirt

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • Tape

  • Clear ruler

These hacks help you give your Seamwork patterns a custom spin—all you need is paper, a ruler, and a pencil!

This month, we teach you how to add a crossover back peplum to the Rachel shirt. You can also check out two additional hacks. One will help you create a swingy shirt with flutter sleeves, and the other adds a tie hem.

Note: For best results, be sure to make any necessary fit adjustments before hacking your pattern.

HACK ONE: Crossover Peplum

Add a little something-something to the back of your Rachel shirt with this hack. I’ll walk you through straightening the hemline, eliminating the back pleat, and adding the crossover peplum. If the peplum isn’t your thing, you can still use this hack to remove the back pleat and change up the hemline.


01 | To eliminate the back pleat, draw a line parallel to the center back through the circular marking at the neckline and waist. Cut along the drawn line.

02 | To straighten the hemline, use a curved ruler to create a slightly curved line from the center back to the side seam on both the front and back pieces. Cut along the marked line.

If you prefer a slightly longer top, use the lengthen/shorten lines to lengthen your Rachel top now.

03 | On the back shirt, draw a line perpendicular to the grainline at the waist. Cut along the drawn line.

04 | Using pattern paper and tape, add 5/8” seam allowance to the waist of the upper back shirt, and label “upper back shirt, cut 1 on fold.” Draw a notch at the center back waist.

05 | On a fresh sheet of pattern paper, trace the lower bodice, creating a mirrored image. Transfer the center back line to the traced pattern.

06 | Using a pencil, make a mark 3” to the left of the center back at the waist seam. Make a second mark 3” to the right of the center back at the hem.

07 | Use a ruler and pencil to connect the marks made in the previous step.

08 | Add 5/8” seam allowance to the waist seam and angled seam. Label the pattern piece “lower back shirt, cut 2.” Cut.

09 | Create a notch on the lower shirt at the center waist. Draw a new grainline parallel to the center back line.


01 | Hem the back angled edge of the lower shirt pieces using a 3/8” double fold hem.

02 | With the wrong side facing the right side, align the waist notches of the two lower shirt pieces. Baste.

03 | With right sides together match one lower shirt unit to one upper shirt at the waist seam. Stitch at 5/8”. Finish the seam allowance and press up.

04 | Finish the shirt according to the pattern instructions.

Swingy Shirt

Combine this trapeze top hack (issue 7) with this flutter sleeve hack (issue 8) to create a swingy Rachel shirt.

Tie-Hem Extension

Try adding a tie-hem extension for the Rachel shirt by using this hack from Seamwork issue 26.

Join the Conversation

Sign in or become a Seamwork member to comment on this article.

Sign in            Join Seamwork

You May Also Like

Explore More Seamwork

Seamwork members have access to hundreds of patterns, with two new patterns available each month. Membership starts at just $15 per month!