Hot! The 40s Sweetheart Dress | Adey Lim



The Facts


Fabric: Silk and cotton blend fabric from Phuket Thailand US$33 for 3 meters, poly lining US$3
Patterns: Du Barry 5357 
Year: c. 1942
Notions: invisible zipper and belt buckle US$2
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: February 2011
Wear again? Absolutely!

Total Cost: ~US$38

This is a dress I almost didn’t finish and it was all because I was so determined to use this silk/ cotton blend fabric my husband bought me while we were holidaying in Phuket Thailand. When I hand washed the fabric, it came out perfect, almost without any crinkle and felt absolutely divine to touch so I was ecstatic! However, it turned out to be the most difficult fabric I’ve cut. The silky material surely had a mind of its own and I spent a really long time pinning and cutting it. At the end of that, I was considering whether I should switch to an easier fabric. Though I was agitated,  letting this precious fabric go to waste would be even more unbearable. Thank God that once I underlined this sheer silky fabric with a poly lining, sewing it wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined and that encouraged me to continue with the project as planned.

And I’m so glad I did cos I love how it turned out! The dress is based on the 1942 sewing pattern, Du Barry 5357 which also happened to be the first unprinted pattern I’ve come across. I didn’t even know unprinted patterns existed before that.

P2153402I love the gather details on the sleeves, the sweetheart neckline, the overlapping sleeves and the inverse sweetheart seam just below the waist which leads to more gathers on the skirt. The design made me think of two hearts joined together in one dress and that was the reason I selected this pattern for the Valentines’ Day theme. 


The strange thing is the pattern cover showed a self fabric belt but didn’t include any instructions on how it could be made though it provided dimensions of fabric to cut for the belt. I thought the dress would be quite incomplete without a handmade belt so I made one using a solid red fabric I happened to have in my scrap basket and a vintage belt buckle from chinatown. This week’s Behind the Seams on my blog shows how I made the belt. 

Tough as it was at the beginning, I’m really happy with this week’s challenge. After all, I’ve conquered my first silk blend fabric and first unprinted sewing pattern. Yay!

I was wondering, did anyone else wear red on Valentines’ Day? I hope you and your loved one had a wonderful time!



Adey Sew Convert

A former kids' television channel manager turned stay home mum from Singapore, I hated sewing since I attended my first home economic class at the age of 14. In 2007, something miraculous happened when God blessed me with a second pregnancy. I discovered that I was expecting a baby girl. That changed everything. First I went crazy shopping for handmade clothes for her on etsy. Then I decided I needed to make something for her on my own. I was a month from my due date when I took an intensive 8-hour sewing class. In Dec 2008, I made a dress for my princess before she was born and have not stopped sewing since.


Comments are closed.

  1. You have some of the most beautiful details in your work – this dress is lovely and the neckline/sleeve details are to die for!

  2. So pretty – I love the pattern you chose! The sweetheart neckline and gorgeous red fabric is perfect for Valentine’s Day!

  3. I’m glad you persisted. That is a lovely dress and the sleeve detail is great.

  4. Oh Adey… this is my favorite!!! It’s just divine!

  5. Absolutely exquisite. Really. I love everything about this dress!

  6. Oh, thank you so much Sarah:)

  7. Thanks Tasia, Im glad you like the pattern, its one of my faves from the stash:)

  8. Thank you for the encouragement!

  9. Oh Casey Sew! You are too sweet! Thanks so much!

  10. LOVE this dress! It’s such a classic early 40’s look–so beautiful!

  11. Beautiful! I’m so glad you fought that silk and won! And you’re wearing your new shoes. :)

  12. Absolutely beautiful! I adore the pattern and fabric you’ve chosen (and am now going straight to Google to see if I can find that pattern somewhere myself, as I’ve fallen in lust with it!), and it looks stunning on you.

  13. Well done, Adey! It’s a stunning dress and I love all the details.

  14. This is truely beautiful. The detail you give is lovely and I always enjoy your choice in colours.This has to be my favourite because you could wear this day or night. Stunning.

  15. Thank you so much Debi! I absolutely LOVE your gown!

  16. Thank you Mena! Im sure glad I did too:) Yes, my new present!

  17. Thank you so much and I hope you find a copy of it!

  18. Oh, thank you so much Charlotte! It makes all the effort in sewing this dress worth it!

  19. margueritedesigns

    My favourite so far. It looks very wearable for all occasions and not just for Valentine’s Day.

  20. This dress is so beautiful. Well done for working with such difficult fabric, I know I couldn’t have done it! The pattern is gorgeous and it really suits you. Love your shoes too!

  21. This is beautiful! I love the detail in the dress, and it is perfectly suited to your fabric. Enjoy wearing it!

  22. This is so gorgeous! I love the fabric and the details.

  23. So beautiful, congratulations! It fits you so well, to. An inspiration to new sewers like me!

  24. Adey, I adore this! You look so lovely! Your hard work paid off quite well :)

  25. I love it! And don’t think it would have looked as nice in a cotton. So glad you stuck with it!

  26. So worth all the trouble. The end result is absolutely stunning and looks wonderful on you!

  27. This is absolutely gorgeous. I love the sleeves.

  28. Beautiful!

  29. I really love this dress and the fabric. As always it is sewn perfectly and you described it so clearly. I just love your posts.

  30. This dress is GORGEOUS! I love the gathers and all of the little design details. The fabric is perfect for this dress, too. Glad you were able to utilize it so wonderfully instead of having to give up!

  31. Thank you so much Meg! Im glad it did:)

  32. Thanks, Im glad I stuck to the silky fabric too!

  33. Thanks Grace, thats one of my fave parts too.

  34. Thanks for your sweet comments Sue:)

  35. Thank you Jen for the encouraging words, sure glad I persisted:)

  36. Thank you for the encouraging words. I love those shoes too :P

  37. Your dress turned out stunning! I just love the details like the skirt yoke and unique sleeve style. Bravo for persevering with a difficult-to-sew fabric–it certainly paid off handsomely! :)
    ♥ Casey

  38. This is sooooooooo beautiful!!! The pattern is gorgeous, so is the fabric, and it looks fabulous on you. Really, I’ve loved everything that you’ve made so far for the Sew Weekly, but this is my favorite yet.

  39. If I had found that pattern and that fabric, I would have never thought to combine the two, but it looks great on you!

  40. Ohhh, I love the belt buckles!

  41. It is lovely when your hard work is appreciated by others. You are an inspiration !

  42. What a stunning dress! Also, I love the picture of you sitting on the sofa. :)

  43. Totally my favorite dress of the week, I hope you use this pattern again- it looks darling on you!

  44. Oh darling, it’s such amazing fabric! And SUCH a great pattern on you! You look so tiny!