Hot! The “Sewn on borrowed time” dress | Adey Lim


IMG_0542 The Facts

Fabric: Black and white large polka dot chiffon fabric 2.5 metres from chinatown $21
Pattern: Butterick 4588
Year: 1932
Notions: Beaded trim from Spotlight $12
Time to complete: 7 hours for this dress 
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes, I think so and I might even keep the length

Total Cost: ~$23

This was not the first 1930s dress I made for this week's challenge, it was the second. The first dress was completed before the Gatsby weekend but there were issues with it. The instructions on creating the sleeves shown on the pattern cover were non existent and I was clueless how I could finished the hanging sleeves.  After almost 9 hours of sewing, I was left disappointed. Still, there were good things that took place while I attempted the 1935 repro pattern which I shared in detail on my blog. But, the hanging sleeve pieces were not the only thing I didn't fancy.  The pale beige rayon fabric on me was another issue, I felt like I was wearing pajamas. 

To sew this second dress, I borrowed sewing time from the next challenge and can only hope for the best in completing both. I totally love this one and am quite certain it would be worn often with different accessories.  To up its wearability and learning from mistakes made in dress #1, I chose a chiffon fabric with timeless large black and white polka dots.

The pattern is lovely, the version I chose came with a drop waist bodice, darts at the shoulders, bust and waist (front and back) for shaping. Other than the bust darts, the shoulder and waist darts were indicated by 2 dots each on the pattern and I was to create darts 1/8" from one of the dots. It was intimating at first but I soon got the hang of it. The dress comes with W shaped seams on the front and back  joining the bodice to the skirt. To make the dress more interesting I added a beaded trim to the front W seam. A waist sash completes the look. I am amazed by how the skirt draped. When laid down the W seam and skirt looked completely flat but when wore fabulous drapes and folds appear on both sides of the skirt. I don't usually wear skirts of this length but might just keep this the way it is.


There are also two pattern pieces attached to the sides of the neckline, creating a cute cape effect at the shoulders. I finished the seams using french seams and bias tape to keep them neat which was important since the fabric was semi sheer.
IMG_3321Having only 2.5 metres of this chiffon fabric in my stash meant I couldn't cut the back bodice on the fold so instead I improvised and cut two pieces on the selvage and while sewing I remembered Debi's "Watch Your Back Dress" and was inspired to add a back slit. Since I cut on the selvage I only had to fold in the fabric once and stitched in place at the opening.


I was out shopping early this week with friends and saw quite a few 1920s/ 30s inspired pieces at the showcases of branded boutiques, a trend probably fueled by the remake of The Great Gatsby film. Perhaps a trend to stay in my wardrobe?! Having said that, I think it is the chiffon fabric that totally made this particular look work. It would most certainly looked too stiff in cotton, too wrinkled in linen and too luxurious in lace.

Now, to work on my fall palette outfit! I'm so out of 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. LOVE this! That fabric is so fabulous. I love how you added the beaded trim on the dropped waist seams AND the back details! So chic! Great job working with the sheer fabric! Love it!!!

  2. What a lovely dress – the beaded trim is a lovely addition.

  3. Gorgeous fabric, the sleeves are great, feel like I want to see more photos of the details, will check your blog. Great job!

  4. This dress is gorgeous – if I ever win the lottery, I’m going to offer you an obscene amount of money to make me one. Beautiful work! :)

  5. Gah! Nearly speechless… fantastic dress!

  6. wow, love the fabric, the dress turned out great! and the shoes you paired it with are darling too!!

  7. Wow! Jaw. On. Floor. The shape, the fabric, the colors – LOVE THIS!

  8. Your dress is delightful! I love the back slit and the semi sheer fabric – your dress turned out beautifully!

  9. This is beautiful.. It looks stunning on you.. Everything about it is just great..Looks fantastic on you..

  10. So beautiful and elegant! I agree that the long length seems workable. And what a good idea to use the semi-sheer fabric!

  11. An absolutely beautiful dress! The fabric is just perfect.

  12. Oh Adey she is absolutely stunning well done. This silhouette suits you very much. Good luck with your next challenge I’m sure you will dazzle us with the outcome.

  13. So lovely Adey, you are sooooooo suiting this era! Nice work on minimal time! I’d love to try that pattern! One day I’ll get along to etsy and buy a real 1930s one!

  14. Thank you Jen, so happy that you like the beaded trim!

  15. Oh Kristen, you made my day!

  16. Aw, thanks so much Ginnie!

  17. Thank you so much Meg :) I am glad the dress worked out this time round.

  18. Thanks Judy for the sweet comment!

  19. Thank you Melissa! Am sure glad the semi sheer fabric and length of dress worked!

  20. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  21. Haha…never knew I could pull off the 1930s look till this challenge kekeke. Thank you babe!