Hot! The “When Life Gives You MuuMuus…” Dress

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The Facts

Muumuu Fabric: Rayon blend from thrifting – $1
Patterns: Simplicity 7830 – $.25 from thrifting
Year: 1992
Notions: none
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: March 2011
Wear again? Actually, yes.

Total Cost: ~$1.25

When was the last time you were looking at a modern-day Simplicity, McCall's or Butterick catalog and said "wow, they really have their fingers on the pulse of today's fashion?" Usually I wonder how they manage to even make the vintage reissues looks so dated and, well, 90s (I believe Butterick is the biggest culprit of this crime; at least Vogue is trying and I think succeeding in appealing styling!

So imagine the train wreck that would a 1992 Simplicity muumuu pattern! I remember 1992 and I don't remember many muumuus being worn around. I remember high-waisted jeans and prairie dresses and vests and other bad clothing choices, but muumuus? Not so much.

There are uglier pattern envelopes out there: I believe I even have some of them. However, as the muumuu tends to be the punchline of ugly dress jokes, I couldn't resist Simplicity 7830. I chose the rick-rack view, knowing full well that I wasn't going to be applying any rick-rack.

As you can imagine, muumuus, without any fasteners or structure are fairly easy to construct. There was the dress front and back, the yokes, ruffle sleeves and yoke lining. A little gathering is all that is needed to add some (and I use this word lightly) "form" to the dress. Without the belt, the dress is a full-blown "Boca Raton 5:00 Early Bird Special" muumuu. With the belt, I dare say it looks quite young and, I dare-say, almost stylish! I chose to pair the dress with a $2.50 belt I bought at the Goodwill because it provides a needed contrast.

You want to know a secret? I'm wearing the muumuu now. Hello shuffleboard!

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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. It’s absolutely adorable with the belt! A perfectly easy-going dress for hot summer days. Congrats on turning an ugo pattern into something cute!

  2. Fabulous! I love it! I also really like the vogue link–who knew?

  3. I really like you in bangs. I have nothing to say about the muumuu. :) Except I think this is a great idea for the weekly challenge!

  4. You look lovely. The belt is a great touch!

  5. So flattering! I would never have been brave enough.

  6. oh dear… is it bad if I let you all know that I actually have a modern day dress that is almost identical in pattern except with an added ruffle at the bottom!! eep! Mine is in black jersey and is from Witchery a few years ago. I’ve worn it with black tights and a belt and in winter with a grey long sleeve knit underneath… also with a belt.. can I stress that..a belt.. does that redeem me!? oh… and I do like yours too Mena! (you could always run a thin elastic in casing thru the waistline to make styling quicker!)

  7. You are the only person in the world who could make a mumu look good. Great job.

  8. I love that you chose the muu muu! My confession is that I secretly love a muu muu (I have a vintage Mongomery Wards muu muu that I love to wear at home in humid weather, the key is AT HOME ONLY) and yours is adorable. This challenge is my favorite so far.

  9. You look adorable in your muumuu–and I mean that in a good way! Adding a belt really changes the look so it no longer screams MUUMUU–very creative solution to an awkward style.

  10. Hey, not fair, you only showed it with a belt…

  11. Hooray! I’m super excited for this week’s challenge because as you’ve shown ANYTHING is possible with a bad pattern cover! This looks super stylish, super young and comes together with the fabric you chose so well!
    I’d like a Muu Muu now!

  12. great little summer dress – the addition of a belt is the sensible option for making use of a ‘nice personality/great hair’ kind of pattern.

  13. Gorgeous – would have never thought it was originally a mumu!!

  14. Fantastic!!

  15. Love how youthful and pretty you made the muumuu looked!

  16. That is such an adorable dress! I am going to have to try to look past the pattern envelopes as I had a tendency to get a little caught up in their illustration. :]

  17. Darling! And its ironic that this “sack” makes you look so thin! It’s actually a gorgeous get up! How easy it looks to wear too. And from that seriously hideous pattern. Even after looking at the technical drawing, I would have tossed this! Totally darling! Serious props girl!

  18. SO CUTE!
    My husband thought I was nuts when I bought a mumu just like yours at an estate sale. It had cute applique at the yoke! But when I paired it with a wide belt and flats he loved it :) There’s possibilities for the mumu! So sad the dye from the appliques ran in the wash :(
    Love your fabric choice, and beautiful pictures!

  19. Mena..
    You actually made a mumu look adorable.. Who….would have thought that it could look so cute..
    Adorable.. and doesnt look like a mumu at all.. Great job.

  20. I know this isn’t sewing related but I just had to tell you—you are so. dang. cute. in these pics that you made me want to cut my hair! But bangs on me are just a bad look so I shall resist. I hope.

  21. Mena, you even look gorgeous in a mumu! I love this fabric, and the belt accessory. Super Cute!

  22. I discovered the muumuu when watching Three’s Company as a kid (back in the day) and asked my cousin in a horrified whisper, “what is Mrs. Roper wearing?” You have gone a LONG WAY towards redeeming the garment. It looks smashing!

  23. If you don’t think it is terribly stylish, you should check the juniors’ dress department more often. This is a very common style, albeit they are always belted. Anyways, it looks great! You definitely made lemonade.

  24. absolutely completely stylish. and SO much better balance-wise than the envelope! actually, everything wise is better than the envelope. i would wear it everywhere.

  25. I have to laugh, I think I made this dress for 7th grade Home Ec (yes, back in the day). Mena you made it so modern and cute, your fabric choice is lovely and the belt pulls it all together.

  26. Thanks, Stephani! I was lucky enough to find a belt the day I started sewing this dress — even though I wasn’t even looking for a belt to go with it!

  27. Thanks, Debi! I absolutely love that hat in the Vogue pattern. It’s nice to see a stylist actually try.

  28. Thanks, Erin! For the first time ever, I’m actually really happy with my bangs!

  29. Thanks, Elizabeth! Belts are my secret weapon.

  30. Thanks, Casey! The elastic trick may make sense for future versions. I do have to make sure it’s not too bunchy when belting it.

  31. Thanks, Sue! That’s certainly a compliment! :)

  32. Thanks, Laura! There’s something quite admirable about women who embrace the muumuu! I’m glad you liked the challenge!

  33. Thanks, Mary! Belts are magic!

  34. Oh, maybe if I’m brave one day I’ll do one and not wear the belt!

  35. Thanks, Veronica! I could totally see you rocking a belted muumuu! You and your 90s patterns are the true inspiration!

  36. Thanks, Jen! It’s a “butta face” pattern!

  37. Thanks, Sarah! I did cop out by not photographing it without the belt, but hey, the challenge is about making something I want to wear.

  38. Thanks, Adey! That’s why I wore my hair down — I really didn’t want the muumuu to age me too much :)

  39. Thanks, Rebecca! And the best part is that patterns like this are usually a steal.

  40. Thanks, Sunni! I was pretty amazed that it didn’t look too sack-like as well!

  41. Thanks, Lauren! I really loved this fabric so I took a real gamble with this challenge. Luckily, I have enough left for another dress. Probably something a bit more form fitting. :)

  42. Thanks, Judy! That’s quite a compliment!

  43. Thanks, Lorene! That’s really sweet! I actually told my hairdresser to put in my client card “do not cut bangs,” since I always get upset with myself after I cut them. However, this time they just worked. :)

  44. Thanks, Bethany! And to think it was just a $2.50 Goodwill find.

  45. Thanks, Amy! Imagine if Mrs. Roper had a belt!

  46. Thanks, Lisette! Whenever I go somewhere like Urban Outfitters, all those ugly patterns from the 1990s pop into my mind.

  47. Thanks, Oona! I would love to see an illustrator take some of these horrible covers and make them actually look nice. Old patterns really have that going for them!

  48. Thanks, Cathe! I’m glad to have allowed you to revisit your home ec past! :)

  49. Good vision! Such a skill to envisage such loveliness from such ‘uninspiriation’! I will look at 70s patterns in a different light now!

  50. You look fantastic! I love what you’ve done with this pattern – totally stylish and fun :)

  51. Oh my goodness, I want one for every day of the week for this summer. You’ve inspired me to keep an eye out for a cute muumuu patterns in my size, and cute belts to make them sassy!

  52. Thanks for your inspiration! I’ve just unwittingly spent all day constructing a maternity dress splicing on SIM 4020 empire-waist kimono top crossover detail in a Japanese-print knit, and it screams ‘muumuu’ or ugly nightgown. The fabric is too loud to be a knee-length dress, and the kimono sleeves look terribly nighttime. It’s unwearable. I just bought this fabric yesterday and loved it on the rack! But you’ve shown you can take a muumuu and turn it around. Belts aren’t the most comofrtable item for maternity, but I’m going to hack off the hemline so it’s a minidress like your version, and if not, make it a tunic. Thanks :)