Hot! The “Shall we dance?” outfit | Adey Lim


P9284414P9284415 The Facts

Fabric:  Yellow and Pink rose voile fabric 3 yards $14 from Arab Street, black and white polka dot light weight cotton 2 yards from stash. 
Pattern: Simplicity 1657 and Du Barry 5636
Year: c. 1940s
Notions: Buttons from stash
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes to both but not together

Total Cost: ~$14 ++

I have to confess that I know not what to sew this week. I didn't have the slightest clue what the spanish harlem style was. A search on the web showed me images of dance costumes from passionate flamenco to spicy salsa to lively fandango. I was lost at first but eventually decided to simply take inspiration from these dance dresses.

I chose a pink and yellow rose slightly sheer cotton voile fabric for the 'must have' tiered skirt and lined it with the same polka dot fabric used for the blouse (see second photo below). I love this voile fabric as it has a burn out and embroidered effect which lends a richer texture to the garment. 


It was really difficult to capture the image below for some reason, when the polka dots appeared, the rest of the photo was overexposed. When no camera worked, my phone camera came to the rescue and I managed to snap this shot. 


The blouse was really interesting to sew. It looked complicated but there were only 4 pattern pieces: 2 back pieces, 1 front and 1 huge piece which eventually became the front gathered yoke, side sleeves and back sleeves. It was this huge piece which was most time consuming to sew with all 14 gathers, sewing the 7 sets of gathers to stay tape and finally unpicking the gathers. I also learnt to sew my very first mitered corners, which I have not heard of prior to this. But, the corners effectively became the curved portion between the front yoke and sleeves. It's ingenious!


Here are some close-up shots of the blouse. The front and shoulder gathers, the gathered back sleeves all made this blouse unique. The bottom of the blouse was finished with a black bias as I didn't want to shorten it. 


I actually found this top rather sexy and decided to sew the top and skirt as separates instead of a dress as I know I would be getting more wear out of them separately. Otherwise, in this outfit, I might just break out in  a dance :P Unfortunately, I am not trained in any dance form.

Perhaps, a perfect excuse to start those dance lessons. 



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. Very nice Adey! I think it was a good choice to make these into separates, and that top is great- what an interesting way it was constructed too!

  2. The details on the top are lovely. Great interpretation of the theme – really vibrant.

  3. Beautiful! I like how you decided to create separates rather than a dress. Great details and your shots are wonderful.

  4. Sooo Beautiful!! I have a question for you, I am totally in love with the top (Yes, already!). I googled Simplicity 1657 and that isn’t the pattern that comes up! I know I must be doing something wrong… Please help!!

  5. This looks lovely, Adey! I adore the top :)

  6. Wow this is a beautiful outfit! I love both fabrics and the overlay! The buttons down the back of the shirt are a very sweet touch. It’s really lovely together or as separates!

  7. Great job Adey! I really like the top – bit put off by all those gathers, but it looks amazing!

  8. I love the top! So pretty and unusual.

  9. Love the top, the construction sounds a nightmare with so many sets of gathers, but it’s worth it seeing the end result. Love the skirt fabric too, just don’t wear it on a windy day (which we have here in the UK today!)

  10. If I had this outfit I would wear it ALL the time!

  11. Looks fabulous! I really love that style of top. They look great as seperates – very versatile.

  12. …and you would certainly look the part at those dance lessons, that top looks amazing Adey and perfectly matched to the skirt. You look darling.

  13. omg. I love both of those fabrics! I really adore the details on both the top and the skirt…ingenious to match them together! You are amazing!!!

  14. Those patterns are just gorgeous, and you’ve brought the look together beautifully! Gotta love floral! xoxo

  15. Thanks Amber! The interesting top was a surprise find as I couldn’t tell from the pattern cover that the top section was created by one huge piece of fabric:)

  16. Thanks nalani, so happy that you like them as separates too:)

  17. Am so glad you like the top Chelsea. I don’t think you did anything incorrectly as I realized that vintage pattern numbers are reused at time, hence there might be a few versions of simplicity 1657. I hope you can find this pattern you want. I probably got mine on ebay. Good luck:)

  18. Thanks Meg:) Your teal dress is gorgeous!

  19. Thanks Cathe, so thrilled that you like the outfit:)

  20. Thanks Trish, I actually found it rather therapeutic putting the gathers together, hahaha, I must be mad!

  21. Thanks Nikki, I will definitely keep in mind abt the windy day:)

  22. Wow Lucky, thanks so much for saying that:)