Easy Upcycle: Muumuu Turned Charlie Dress

This is Vanessa's first post on the UpCraft Club blog. Please give her a warm welcome!

The last few weeks of August tend to be quite steamy here in Chicago. In addition, our elementary schools have no air-conditioning. Crazy, right?! The kids step off the bus at the end of the day drenched. What's a mom to do?

When I send my daughter to school, I want her to be as comfortable as possible, confident in her style while still being school appropriate. The Charlie Dress absolutely fits my criteria.  The pattern, by designer Mingo & Grace, is an easy and stylish addition to any girl's wardrobe (sized 12M - 12Y).  When made with light-weight fabrics, this dress is cute and cool on a hot day.

Pattern Details

The Charlie Dress is a loose fitting, drop-waist dress with gathered skirt. It is a quick and easy sew with no zippers or button holes. The neck and arm holes are finished nicely with bias tape. The simplicity in the design allows for endless finished looks. The dress could be chic and classy if sewed in monochromatic silk shantung. It could be made in corduroy and layered with a long sleeve tee and leggings for a casual fall outfit. I imagine the pattern could work well in stable knits too. The Charlie Dress allows plenty of room for creativity and embellishing. Are the gears in your head starting to turn??

The Upcycle

I originally made this dress as one of my entries for the UpCraft Club STYLO Photo Contest. The theme was "High Fructose." I was having trouble finding fun, inspiring fabric at the local fabric store so I decided to check out the resale shop. Hanging on the first rack was a gem of a muumuu. The colors were bright, it was made from a thin, buttery soft cotton and there was plenty of fabric to complete the project. In addition, the muumuu had great buttons running down the front. I love buttons, but don’t always love how much time they take to sew. I was sold. I bought the dress and headed home to get creating. Here's the 'before'...

Cutting the pattern out of a button up was rather simple. I first cut apart the front and back of the muumuu along the side and shoulder seams. I folded the back in half and laid the Charlie Dress back pattern on top. To cut the front, I lined up the center of the front pattern piece along the mid line of the buttons. I cut out one side then carefully flipped the pattern piece along the mid line to cut the other side. Next, I cut off the last button and button loop that were within the seam allowance. I basted the two overlapping layers (the button layer and button loop layer) together in the seam allowance. From that point forward, I treated the button up front piece as if it was one piece. I went slowly when adding the bias tape to the neckline … and Voila! I had the look of a button front without the work of adding buttons!

I decided to pair the print with a light-weight grey linen to provide some visual balance. Between the linen and the thin, soft cotton of the muumuu, the dress was incredibly light and breathable. The pink stripe and bias tape added extra girly flair. The result was a dress that my daughter adores and I’m happy to have her wear on a hot day. I would love a pattern like this in my size for summer (humidity is not my friend)!

I plan to make many more Charlie Dresses for each season. I might use one of my husband’s old dress shirts as another button front upcycle to wear to school – she would love having a reminder of dad with her during the day. I am also dreaming about a silk and lace version for the holidays. Keep your eyes open for more to come!

Now it’s your turn with the Charlie Dress. Get your copy of the pattern then let your imagination go wild … I’m sure you will love the result.

We would love to see your Charlie Dress projects! Tag us on Instagram @upcraftclub and @eastandeden to share your creations. #charliedress

Written by Vanessa of @eastandeden

August 18, 2015 by UpCraft Club
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Shelly said:

Vanessa this is so fun! I LOVE the bright colors and the gray at the bottom totally works. Great choice!


Michelle said:

GREAT JOB! I love refashions where you can use the button placket! Fantastic bright mumu find.


Melissa said:

That is so pretty. I love the button details and colors. You can’t go wrong with that pattern.


Daniela said:

What a transformation! That dress is beautiful, modern and so inspiring.


Laura said:

Vanessa, CONGRATS on your first article! Love the “recycled-made-new” dress and especially adore your model! :)
Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next project!


Diana said:

Great transformation! I love that you kept the buttons, it was really clever!

Melissa Q.

Melissa Q. said:

I LOVE that you were able to reuse that amazing button placket! These colors and this dress are fantastic, what a great reuse!


Trudi said:

What a great way to “upcycle”, I love the dress and your model is adorable.

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