I’m so excited to share what these MuuMuu’s turned into. I love a good upcycle puzzle. Taking a piece of clothing and making it into something totally different is an art form.

Last summer, Sarah Russel, came into my studio with a small muumuu and a great idea. Sarah’s boyfriend, Todd, was taking her on a spontaneous trip to Hawaii. When she found out about the trip she bought her first muumuu with a matching Hawaiian shirt for Todd from eBay. Sarah bought the muumuu more for the fabric than the fit and knew she was going to have it altered before the trip.

I asked her why she gave this project to me and this is what she said, “I wanted you to make me something upcycled for a few reasons. I love vintage fabrics and styles. I love the opportunity to trust someone’s creativity to make something new and beautiful out of something that was originally unflattering. I care about sustainability and making use of items. I also wanted to support local business and have something unique that nobody else has.”


We researched on Pinterest and came up with a couple ideas and then sketched them out on paper. Sarah wanted to be able to wear the same outfit from day into night and we decided a 1940s playsuit was perfect for that. Playsuits were popular in the 1940s because wearing shorts could be seen as inappropriate in some settings. Pants and trousers were mostly menswear. Girls could get away with it by wearing a skirt over their shorts.

Unfortunately, for what Sarah wanted, there was not enough material. The first design may have been possible out of just the muumuu, but even it was pushing it, and we were way short on fabric for the second design, her actual choice. That was when Sarah stumbled upon another muumuu while shopping at a Columbus thrift store with the exact same fabric print. Sarah said, “It felt like fate. It was exactly what I had just ordered.”


With this second identical muumuu we set out to complete the playsuit from the second design. I made a muslin to assure proper fit and so I would have a pattern. Shorts can have issues so a muslin was important.

The top would need binding so it would button up the front. To give it a better fit we gathered it along the bottom before adding bias tape. I even made the bias tape from cutting the scraps.


The most important part of upcycling is to make sure you have enough fabric to make everything. We got so lucky!

The skirt was made simply from one of the dress bottoms. To make it button down the front I took apart one of the side seams and that became the front of the skirt. Next, we attached a cling free lining fabric. This was important because without it her over skirt would stick to her shorts and ride up. With the two layers together I gathered the waistline and I used the last of the bias tape to finish it.

Now it needed the buttons. Sarah bought vintage buttons online that were a perfect match.

I was certainly over the moon with joy to get these pictures! Thank you, Sarah.

Behind the Scenes~

I launched my online fabric design studio last week. Check out my fabric.

My Pattern Reading and Layout class is this Wednesday. Come learn all about patterns.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
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