Hot! The “Detachable Peplum” Dress

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image from The Facts

Fabric: Reproduction feedsack print from Peapod Fabrics, $27 for 2 3/4 yards
Pattern: Simplicity 1172 from Alameda, $2
Year: c. 1944
Notions: none
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes, with and without the peplum

Total Cost: ~$29

I’m totally on a orange kick right now. And acorns. And squirrels. I’d like to sum up my fall inspiration as  squirrels from the 1940s dressed in orange and aqua and brown. Here’s my Fall palette mood board:


1940s jeweled bronze beat hat from Etsy | 1940s Hazelnut brooch from Etsy | Chic-ita Dress from modcloth | Lagoon a Foliage necklace from Etsy | Coaster Thrills wedge from modlcoth | Orange A-Peel dress from modcloth | Wooden multi-pack bracelets from topshop

And now, about this week’s creation.

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It’s sort of magic because it looks like a two-piece ensemble, but it isn’t! The secret lies in the detachable peplum (I can’t help but get the King Missile song of the similar name in my head each time I say “detachable peplum”).  The dress is simply a shift dress, which, incidentally passed the “Mena Test” and the zipper was omitted.

The peplum is a separate piece that’s tied at the waist with a bow! To me, this is the only way I ever want to do a peplum again. When I want a very simple dress, I can just remove the peplum and voila:

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But I actually love the peplum, so I’m not sure if I’ll be removing it any time soon.

The sleeves are a bit odd and have a very stylized cuff. With such a busy print, the details don’t stand out. The next time I make up this dress, I’ll omit the cuffs if using another busy print.

Despite my love for orange, I wish I would have done the bias tape around the neck in the same daisy print. I would have if I had any fabric left for the tape. Unfortunately, I didn’t take in account the bias strip would be needed and only purchased enough fabric for the dress and peplum.

I seriously can’t wait to make up this dress in a different fabric. I love this pattern!

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I love the detachable peplum! Seriously, my inspiration is running in overdrive right now..I bet the new Colette Peony shift would look great with a detachable peplum…

  2. What a great feature and you have created another handsome garment!

  3. Love the dress! Though I think the busier print works in this case. It makes the peplum look as an organic part of the dress, rather than just something tied on. :)

  4. Love, love, love this dress…detachable peplums rock!!!

  5. Hahaha…detachable “peplum”! I haven’t heard that song in about 20 years!

  6. Beautiful! I actually love the orange bias strip. Its my favorite part of the dress.

  7. Just gorgeous! and I laughed at detachable ‘peplum’ too!!

  8. Oh, I love the orange bias tape. I wouldn’t change it. :)

  9. Its so lovely! One of my favourite dress that i have made is one with a detachable peplum. Its lends itself suprisingly well to a simple dress! and yours is just darling, great job.

  10. MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv1.7

    I like the detachable peplum too! I’ll bet you’ll find another use for it, Mena. Like on another dress. This whole detachable accessory concept is so 1940s. I’m working on a series of knitted collars from a vintage-style knitting book…and it’s great fun. Say! I should knit a detachable peplum or would that look dumb? I’ve never seen it done. Aprons, yes; peplums, no.

  11. Ah! You beat me to the punch, I have this pattern and so happy to see it made up, just as lovely as I could have hoped. LOL the King Missile song, we are the same generation…

  12. And I thought nothing could top the pink dyed ruffle dress! I love it! The fabric is so charming and you look so lovely in it!
    The detachable peplum idea is GENIUS! I wonder what inspired the designer to create such a unique feature. Have you see that before? I’m assuming it was detachable to get more wear out of the dress. Or perhaps they could make more in different colors? Hmm…
    But beautiful on you!

  13. I think the solution to all life’s problems is the detachable peplum. :)

  14. Thanks, Krysta — you have a point. There is something really nice about not knowing if this is a dress or skirt/top. The busy print makes that possible.

  15. Thanks, Krysta — you have a point. There is something really nice about not knowing if this is a dress or skirt/top. The busy print makes that possible.

  16. I’m glad you appreciated the reference. :)

  17. Thanks, Suzy. I had to slip that in. :)

  18. Thanks, Molly! I can’t believe this is the first one I’ve made. Now I have to go look at my patterns more closely to find more of these guys.

  19. Thanks! I wish I could crochet/knit since I just love 1930s and 1940s knits. One day, I hope! Try knitting a peplum — you never know unless you try.

  20. Thanks, Hillary! It was such a breeze to do — do it! And I’m glad I could provide the LOLs.

  21. Thanks, Dottie! Everything I make will be a challenge to top the pink ruffle dress. I’ve seen detachable peplums on some 1950s dress patterns I have, but I never looked closely at my 1940s. I didn’t even realize that this one was detachable when I started making it up. I just love it!

  22. I just love that feedsack print Mena! thanks for the fabric tip because I have a feedsack quilt topper but I’m scared to death cut it and I would love to buy a reproduction instead.

  23. I’ve had a bit of a LOL about Detachable Peplum too! King Missile! Totally forgot about them! I’ve never tried a peplum, but might have to give it a go, think I’ve actually got a 70s patterns that’s calling for this similar look.
    That fabric is pretty spesh, I don’t usually like browns, but the orange sprinkle of colour looks great. I actually like the orange bias binding neckline, as it ties it together for me. YAY!

  24. Adorable and a great fall color. Likewise, I am all for the orange bias binding, it totally works for me:)

  25. Smashing Mena and the detachable peplum? I’m so stealing that. Gorgeous palette

  26. I’m a bit behind in blog reading this week, but wanted to say I love how this dress turned out! :) I’ve made a detachable peplum dress, and agree they are loads of fun to wear. ;) The print you paired with the pattern is so fun–I just love the colors! :)

  27. Thanks, Justine! I’m glad folks like it — I was worried it would be too much feed sack for a dress like this. I love it because it’s a relatively big print. The other great thing about repro is that you can get the yardage you need.

  28. You need to embrace the peplum!
    Brown is so fun to accessorize with!

  29. Thanks Adey! I guess I don’t hate it as much as I thought I did.

  30. Thanks, Kazz! We need a detachable peplum week!

  31. Thanks Casey! The best part of the detachable peplum is adjusting as the day (and eating) goes by. :)

  32. that’s fabulous– the eating part. and the dress part too. it’s like a vintage transformer.

  33. Ha ha! I totally thought of the same song when I heard the phrase “detachable peplum.” Adorable dress! I like the contrast of the orange bias tape.

  34. Love the colors, and LOVE the peplum! Brilliant design all around :)