July 07, 2022 2 Comments
by Cynthia Anderson
Folkwear excited to introduce the 160 Hawaiian Mu'umu'u pattern! To celebrate the debut of this new pattern, it is on sale for the month of July and comes with this sew-along! The pattern is offered in a paper or pdf version. If that were not enough, Folkwear's very own multi-talented Esi Hutchinson created the cover illustration!
The mu'umu'u is often overlooked due to it shapeless reputation. Once the Folkwear team examined an authentic mu'umu'u, it was apparent that this gem deserved to be rediscovered. We hope you share in our delight for this dress and find it to be a charming, comfortable, and versatile new addition to your wardrobe. You do not have to live on a beautiful tropical island to enjoy making and wearing this comfy dress in time for summer and beyond.
This loose and breezy garment, is considered aloha attire and has its origins in the 1800s when missionaries adapted their Mother Hubbard-style dresses to fit Hawaiian women. Originally a tool of assimilation, native Hawaiians have since reclaimed this dress to symbolize their heritage and its popularity has spread worldwide. Mu'umu'u is typically made of cotton and often features tropical floral, or traditional Hawaiian motifs.
Our sewing pattern features three views, each with a different sleeve option: sleeveless (View A), elbow-length (View B), and sleeve short sleeve (View C). The short sleeve is an open ruffle, while the longer sleeve has elastic at the cuff and falls to the elbow. All three dresses feature princess seams, side darts with cleverly hidden pockets in the dart (optional), and an interior elastic belt to add additional shaping to the front. The back is gathered to a pointed yoke and the front yoke is a smooth crew shape. The dress is loose fitting, yet it has a flattering silhouette that makes it perfect when the temperatures rise.
Front & Back Views
Focus of this Sew Along
In this sew-along I am making the version with three-quarter length sleeve and side seam/dart pockets out of a blue-gray linen (Mist) from Folkwear's fabric collection. This three-quarter length sleeve is a perfect summer/fall transition length and this beautiful neutral linen will go with just about everything (plus a solid fabric is helpful when doing a sew along). Both versions with sleeves are constructed in the same manner and the only difference is in how the sleeves are finished (and sleeve length, of course). The sleeveless version goes together a little differently, but we will cover that in another blog post.
Join in this four-day Sew Along and learn how to make this dress with step-by-step instructions, plus tips along the way. Below is the schedule breaking down the making of the Mu'umu'u.
Sew Along Schedule:
Day One: Introduction to Folkwear's 160 Hawaiian Mu'umu'u pattern and getting started: get the pattern, select fabric, gather materials, decide which version and size to make.
Day Two: Add optional pocket to side seam dart and stitch the front & back of the dress together
Day Three: Make the yoke/yoke facing, add the sleeves, and assemble the dress/sleeve/yoke
Day Four: Add interior elastic tab shaping, finish sleeve hem with elastic, and hem the bottom edge of the dress
Sleeveless option tutorial.
For summer, consider any number of light-weight fabrics such as cotton voile, lawn, muslin, ikat, rayon, seersucker, chambray, poplin, double-gauze, batik, brocade, eyelet, silk, and batiste. Also, any light to mid weight linen is a perfect choice as well. Typical fabrics for the mu'umu'u would be cottons with bright tropical prints. We will have a fabric suggestion blog (with links to great fabrics) out soon!
If you use a sheer fabric like voile, consider making the dress body out of two layers of fabric for a flowy, yet more opaque look. Then make the short or three quarter length sleeves out of a single layer of fabric, adding to the diaphanous aesthetic. Handkerchief linen, lined with a cotton voile or lawn would be a great option too!
Even though the mu'umu'u is synonymous with warm weather, this pattern can carry you into cooler temps too. The longer sleeve length adds to the versatility of the dress, making it a perfect fall wardrobe addition. Also remember that you can use the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern to make the sleeve any length you like. And you can use the lengthen/shorten lines to make the dress longer for cooler weather (or your style preference)
For Fall/Winter use a cotton flannel, mid-weight linen, or lightweight wool. Layer with your favorite slip, skirt, pant, leggings, or tights underneath for lots seasonal variations.
Fabrics with bold or subtle prints/designs are typical for an island inspired Mu'umu'u. Look for Hawaiian prints, block prints, checks, Madras plaids, small or large florals, and abstract designs like Ikats and batiks.
Consider making the yoke out of a contrasting fabric and/or add piping for a fun detail. It is always fun to make the pockets and yoke/yoke facing out of fabric that is different with the dress body. Since the yoke is cut on the bias, have fun playing with a striped or patterned fabric.
The yoke is also a perfect canvas for trying out your embroidery skills.
Yardage & Sizing Charts
See the sizing/yardage requirement and the finished measurement chart below (or at this link) to determine the yardage your size requires. Due to the loose fit of the Mu'umu'u, choose your size based mostly on your bust measurement, and note finished measurements below also. Molly made her Mu'umu'u in size SM (even though she measures MD at hip). I made the Mu'umu'u view C in a size SM as well. I am smaller through the shoulders and bust, while my hip measurement is a size medium. Because the dress is loose fitting, with plenty of ease the bust is my focus for fit. Even if you are confident about your size choice, consult the Finished Measurement chart to help make sure.
Hint: When you are unsure about the fit of a pattern that is new to you, measure the width of a garment you have that fits you like you prefer. With the garment laying flat, compare the underarm measurement to determine the bust. Measure and compare the waist, hip, or length as the case may be. This will help you to determine how much ease you prefer when choosing a new pattern size.
For Day Two of the 160 Hawaiian Mu'umu'u Sew Along, you will need to gather up your supplies, trace and/or cut out the pattern for the size and view you want to make, and prewash & dry your fabric. On Day Two of the Sew Along we will cut our fabric and start sewing. I hope to see you back here soon!
July 15, 2022
I lived in Hawaii for a couple years, long ago. I soon found myself practically living in muu muus as they were so comfy. I had a full length dressy one made out of cream gauzy cotton with cotton lace trims, for special occasions, very traditional for Hawaiians. So do consider trying that. It’s was the sort of dress Jessica McClintock and Gunne Sax adapted and made popular in the 80’s. For this sew along, I’ll be using a turquoise rayon Hawaiian floral that has been in my stash for some time.
I wish I still had some of my old muu muus, but I wore them out.
July 16, 2022
So beautiful design. Nice look