Make a Shirt with Bell Sleeves from a Fugly Muumuu

Refashion a house dress into a blouse with bell sleeves

The beautiful embroidery and fringed sleeves of this $3 muumuu caught my eye at the thrift store.  I liked how the beautiful sleeves were the primary focus of this otherwise fugly muumuu. I thought I could simply take in the sides and shorten the skirt, but this muumuu was enormous.  The neckline and shoulders  were too wide to work with for my small frame, and the best way to upcycle this dress was to start over with a new pattern.

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I read great things about Colette Patterns and gave their Laurel pattern a try.  The pattern was easy to follow and instructions crystal clear.  For this project,  made the following tweaks to their pattern:

  1. Modified the tapered sleeves to bell sleeves
  2. Used a neck facing instead of lining the bodice
  3. Took in the sides at the waist

I made a bell sleeve pattern using a slash and spread technique I learned from my pattern drafting class.

How to modify a sleeve pattern into a bell sleeve with a slash and spread technique step 1

Step 1:  Make a copy of the sleeve pattern and mark the lines where you will slash the pattern.  Cut the lines from the bottom to top and stop 1/8″ from the top.  That 1/8″ bit you didn’t cut will become a hinge that will let you spread the sleeve.

How to modify a sleeve pattern into a bell sleeve with a slash and spread technique step 2

Step 3:  Spread apart the sleeve to your desired width.

How to modify a sleeve pattern into a bell sleeve with a slash and spread technique step 3

Step 4:  Fill in the gaps of the pattern with paper and scotch tape.

Refashion a house dress into a shirt with bell sleeves

 

Here’s a close up of the sleeve.  Isn’t the embroidery pretty?  It really makes the sleeves pop.

 

Refashion a house dress into a blouse with bell sleeves

Ta da!  Finished shirt!  I’m extremely pleased with the fit of this top.  I only had to make the slightest tweak with the waist.  Getting the right fit has always been tricky for me.  I never had much success with the patterns I bought at Joann’s because I spent more time altering the fit than constructing the garment.  After years of buying $1 patterns at Joann’s, the $14 price tag of the Colette pattern felt expensive, but the almost perfect fit was worth the cost, and I liked the instant gratification of the PDF download.  You’re probably wondering if I’m affiliated with Collette.  No, I’m just a highly satisfied customer.

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