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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lin

How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Looking to make a boho top on the cheap? In this thrift flip, I'll show you how to upcycle a thrift store muumuu into a cute DIY bohemian-style top using an existing shirt as a sewing pattern.


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top



Here's an overview of the project.


The muumuu backstory


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

I love bold, tribal prints, so when I found this $4 muumuu at the thrift store, I immediately snatched it up. I considered wearing it as a beach cover-up on future vacations, but two things held me back. First, this muumuu had an unflattering fit. It's a large rectangle folded in half with a hole at the top. The drawstring belt did little to define my waist, and the large side flaps drowned me in fabric. Plus, there was a huge tear at the bottom of the skirt I missed at the thrift store. But I could still see the potential in this piece. I liked the neckline and drawstring belt, and the skirt had enough fabric to salvage into new sleeves.


Step 1: Chop the muumuu


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

I gave the muumuu a good chop and cut off most of the skirt.


Step 2: Remove the belt and remove part of the inside belt casing


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top


I removed the belt and partially picked apart the seams of belt casing so I wouldn't accidentally cut them off when I cut the new bodice.


Step 3: Cut a new bodice and sew the shoulder seams


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

I grabbed one of my favorite shirts to use as a pattern. Fold back the sleeves, place it over the muumuu, and cut around it with a 1" seam allowance. Sew new shoulder side seams with a 3/8" seam allowance.


Step 4: Cut new sleeves


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

Fold the skirt in half and place the top of the sleeve along the fold. Cut out the bottom of the sleeve with a 1" seam allowance.


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

Flipped over the bodice to reveal the armhole seam and cut a new armhold with a 1" seam allowance.


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

Every time I cut out the sleeves like this, I end up with pointy shoulders, so I round out shoulder caps.


Step 5: Sew the shoulder cap seams


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top


Open the bodice lengthwise, pin the sleeve cap to the armhole, and sew with 3/8" seam allowance.


I prefer to sew my sleeves using this flat technique instead of in-setting the sleeves. It's easier to sew, and I don't end up with tiny pleats in the sleeve cap.


Step 6: Sew the side seams on the bodice and sleeves


How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top

Fold the shirt lengthwise and sew the side seams on the bodice and the sleeves


Step 7: Add the gray border


I couldn't let the beautiful gray border go to waste, so I made it into a band and added it to the bottom of the boho top.

How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top


Step 8: Sew the belt casing and insert the belt


Trim and sew the belt casing back in place, and insert the belt. I totally forgot to take a picture of this last step. Sorry!


In conclusion



How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top


Here's the finished top. Whadaya think? I refashioned this muumuu into a cute top that can be worn regularly as part of my wardrobe. As much as I like wearing caftans and muumuus, they tend to be too dramatic to be worn on a daily basis. Reusing the neckline and drawstring belt saved me a ton of time. Shortcuts like that make upcycling projects fun to sew. Why remake something that's already working? Reusing one of my favorite shirts as a template guaranteed a great fit. You don't always need a sewing pattern to make a beautiful boho top.


Pin for later!

How to upcycle a shapeless muumuu into a stylish boho top






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1 Comment


Michelle Thiel
Michelle Thiel
Apr 04

That's not a muumuu, it's a caftan. Very different construction and culture.

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