The Wedding Guest Dress: Charm Patterns Rita dress hack

I’d been meaning to make the Charm Patterns Rita Blouse ever since it first came out, and finally I got around to it. Only as a dress!

I’ve got to admit, it had been years since I’d been to a wedding. Maybe it’s my age: most of my friends got their weddings out of the way in their early thirties (if they got married at all, that is), and there’s been a bit of a dry spell since then. So imagine my delight when Andy and I were invited to a friend’s daughter’s wedding last September, and I got to put my fancy-pants sewing skills to the test!

Charm Patterns Rita dress hack

Anyone who’s been reading my blog for a few years might remember a previous dress I made from this floral viscose crepe back in the summer of 2017. It was the Colette Crepe Dress and although I loved making it, I never particularly enjoyed the finished result. I think it only got worn the once. Here’s a picture for reference, taken on holiday in the beautiful south of France:

Colette Crepe Dress in viscose

While I loved the look and feel of the fabric, I just don’t think it suited this dress pattern, which would be better made in a fabric with some structure. Also, much as I loved the look in theory, I don’t think the style does anything for me. I just look better in slimmer fitting skirts, and that sweetheart neckline is too high to look right on me, at any rate.

I vowed very soon after making the first dress that it would get pulled apart and remade, and sure enough, two years later it did. What’s more, I got photos out in a beautiful location again! Perhaps a Georgian manor house venue near Bath isn’t quite as exciting as Saint Paul de Vence, but I guess it depends on your perspective. I think I probably take Bath a bit for granted after having lived there for a decade.

Charm Patterns Rita dress hackI spent months waffling over what pattern and fabric to go for, but in the end my decision was made a bit easier by having no money. I pretty much had to shop the stash, and when I found this fabric again and realised it would pair beautifully with the Rita pattern, I knew I didn’t need to look any longer.

Okay, I had to search around for a matching invisible zip–Rita has a body skimming fit at the waist and needs an invisible zip in the side seam in order for you to get it on. Obviously my zip had to be longer than the one specified in the pattern, but as luck would have it I had something suitable in the stash.

Now, I wish I could tell you how much length I added to the pattern pieces to turn this into a dress, but honestly, I didn’t note it at the time and I’m too lazy busy to go searching through my pattern stash to find out. I just made the pieces as long as I was able to using the fabric I had. Most of the dress could be cut from the leftover yardage from my Crepe Dress, but I did have to use two of the skirt panels from that project.

Charm Patterns Rita dress hack

I felt a bit bad about ruining a dress that someone else could have worn, but had to give myself a good talking to in that respect. It is perfectly okay to hack apart and refashion unloved clothing. I own it. I can do what I like with it. Does anyone else need to give themselves a stern talking to like that?!

In the end this was a really easy sew. The front and back bodice are two long pattern pieces, and the skirt is in three panels at the front and back. Putting in the zip and the elastic are the most fiddly bits, but the instructions are excellent and easy to follow. I ended up hand picking my zip as I don’t own an invisible zip foot (I’m not a big fan of invisible zips as I’ve had a few break on me), but that was enjoyable and gave a lovely finish. Am I weird for loving hand sewing?!

Oh Rita Dress, let me tell thee how I love thee…

Seriously, I might only have worn this dress once so far (I made it at the beginning of September, so there hasn’t been the weather or suitable occasion to wear it since) but I feel happy knowing it’s there for fancy summer parties. I think it really suits me. Most peasant tops have too much volume for my liking, but Rita has a lovely slim fit. Even Andy, who early on voiced his dislike of the whole peasant top trend, had to admit that the finished dress was uber-sexy.

Charm Patterns Rita dress hack

Okay, I freely admit that’s not the sexiest pic of me wearing the dress, but it illustrates another thing I love about it: the comfy fit. While looking slinky because of this beautifully drapey viscose, the dress still has a couple of inches of positive ease to keep you comfy. My waist measurement at the time of making this put me between the 8 and 10 sizes, but it turned out a straight size 8 still left me enough room to be able to eat a big dinner!

Charm Patterns Rita dress hack

One thing I didn’t do was add the elastic in the sleeve hems, which the pattern gives you as an option. I did try it, but it just didn’t feel or look quite right to me. For some reason it worked when the dress was worn on the shoulder, but not off, and I knew I wanted an off the shoulder look for the wedding. In the end I think the flutter sleeve is better in this particular fabric, and it moved around a bit in the breeze which is always good. Flutter sleeves gotta flutter, after all!

I have kept the elastic and left an opening in the sleeve hem, so it would be very easy to add it back in for a different look.

My one criticism of the finished dress is it’s a little on the short side. I would probably get more use out of it if it were a couple of inches longer, but I made it as long as I could with the fabric I had. However, as this is more of a special occasion dress I’m not really bothered. I suppose it’s short and lightweight enough that I could even wear it tucked in as a top under the right sort of bottoms! Maybe I’ll try that during Me Made May…

The Charm Patterns Rita dress hack deets:

Pattern: Charm Patterns Rita top

Size: 8, C cup

Fabric: A floral viscose crepe from Minerva, long since sold out.

Modifications: Lengthened to a dress.


  • Pattern: £10.28
  • Fabric: £0 (Minerva provided for that earlier blogged dress)
  • Notions: £0 (invisible zip, thread and elastic all from stash)
  • Total: £10.28

Other inspirational versions: I absolutely adore Lauren’s version in the most beautiful fabric, and Tasha really has all those vintage vibes going! Lynne has sewn so many beautiful Ritas but how about this for an amazing dress hack!

What’s your most successful pattern hack? And does anyone else feel guilty cutting up wearable clothes?

Coming Next Week:

Closet Case Sallie Maxi Dress in Lady McElroy crepe jersey

Finally, one of my all time favourite summer dresses makes it to the blog! Check out my tropical print Sallie Maxi Dress here next Friday.

Until then I’ll be sewing up my first Oslo cardigan. The heavy sweater knit fabric is giving me a few challenges what with the “dimensional embroidery” (bits of fabric stitched onto it), but I think I’ve figured out the best way to handle it. We shall see…

What do you reckon? I'd love to hear from you!

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