Hot! The “Mystery Solved” Dress | Adey Lim

Retro The Facts 

Fabric: 2 yards of Alexander Henry's home decor fabric Sofia in Gold $28, partially underlined with remnants
Pattern: Project 7 from Japanese sewing book, Retrospective is Stylish
Year: 1970s
Notions: Buttons and zipper $1
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? Likely in the cooler months

Total Cost: ~$29

In my teenage years, this black and white photo of my parents was an item of contention between mum and I. Mum was adamant that I shouldn't be wearing mini skirts so the photo was my proof that mum too wore mini skirts and if she could, why couldn't I? Still she insisted that I shouldn't and justified her skirt length as a trend back in the 70s. Obviously, I wasn't convinced.

As I looked at this photo again two decades later, I realized I knew nothing much about it at all. When was this taken? Was it a special occasion? What color was the dress?  The horizontal lines of the dress looked kinda dark green or navy blue to me while my hubby guessed it was red.  What's your guess?

P3303770This was my parent's engagement photo taken in 1970 and mum was indeed wearing red, the color of prosperity and celebrations. Hubby was  spot on! Mystery #1 solved!

I used Project 7 dress pattern (below) from the Japanese sewing book "Retrospective is Stylish" by Yoshiko Tsukiori which showcases beautiful dresses, blouses, skirts and suits from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Every Japanese sewing book has a slightly different presentation but all that I've tried so far provided pretty clear directions with their illustrations. This is my first project from this book and I did spend half a day googling to have a puzzle answered. After tracing the pattern pieces,  there were two missing pieces. Unfortunately, this was one project no one seemed to have attempted from the book or blogged about. Before giving the project up entirely, I went back to the original pattern and 'read' through the Japanese wordings which I completely didn't understand in hope of finding an answer. Just when I was about to throw in the towel, I spotted these lines running down the front and back skirt pieces and realized I had to cut the front skirt piece into two at the line and extend the space between the pieces by 14 centimeters to have the complete skirt piece. It worked the same way for the back. 

IMG_0439Mystery #2 solved! While it was frustrating at first, I brought me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment even before the commencement of actual sewing to have it solved!

I don't have the confidence mum had in wearing a dress with such narrow horizontal stripes. In fact, that's one of those prints I stay away from. This Sofia in Gold print has been my favorite home decor fabric for a really long time and it took me quite a while to decide if I should use it for this mod dress with inverted pleats.  


I have sewn a few dresses with such fabrics before such as my Sabrina Cape dress but I think home decor fabric are not suitable for all dress types. I must confess I love using such heavier fabric on circle skirts as it adds a certain sway to the skirt. Have you used any home decor fabrics to sew garments and what do you think they are best suited for? I love how this one turned out but have got to wait for cooler weather. We are experiencing the hottest days in 6 years here and it has been hovering around 35 degrees Celsius making me reluctant to leave the house and hopelessly lethargic.


Instead of facings, I used a black and white polka dotted bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes which provided a little contrast to the main fabric. The white mock belt, which breaks the monotony of the print, is finished with two white and yellow buttons. 

Two mysteries solved in one dress. What an adventure! :) The question now is whether I'll be letting my little princess wear the mini-est of skirts as a teenager. Ha! Only time will tell :)



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. FABULOUS dress! I am loving that photo of your mum…she looked very chic! The fabric is perfect for the dress and I love the inverted pleats! I think I’ve made a dress once with decor fabric–a 1940’s wrap sundress (the McCall one that closes in the back). It actually worked out well since the fabric was a bit heavier, it didn’t blow about in the wind!! :)

  2. I love this Adey! I have photos of my Mum in school uniforms so short it’s darned near indecent!… I too used to bring these out when she insisted on hemming mine at the knee. lol. Your dress is so beautiful. I love the fabric and trim choices! The colours look great on you too.

  3. margueritedesigns

    I love those pleats – I keep seeing box pleats everywhere.

  4. I too would have guessed blue – your Mother looks so sharp and stylish. You definitely take after her there. The detailing is fine. and the weight of the fabric is an interesting thing. Like table cloths, sheets and curtains, there is much for me to try.

  5. I LOVE this dress it is so cute and stylish. I also love to sew with home decor fabrics I did it once by accident for a skirt and your are spot on about the weight and sway it lends to the garment. That skirt is a staple in my wardrobe even though it is one of the first things I made.

  6. Adey this is such a lovely dress! And a perfect fit too. I love your choice of polka dot bias tape, it’s the perfect touch. I keep wondering about Japanese patterns, good to know they are do-able! Both you and your Mom (Dad too) look so sharp! Spot on stylish!
    Thank you for the insight on home decor fabric. I have been holding on to a very funky patterned bark cloth that I would love to use for the appropriate garment!

  7. Beautiful Adey! It’s a very flattering shape on you and your parents are just amazing! They look straight from a movie!

  8. adey, i love that this is mini length for you!!! you should see the booties hanging out around here, those mamas would call this a maxi dress.
    the fabric is wonderful and the mini length is perfect! now go put some light linen on and look forward to autumn :)

  9. Oh this dress takes me back to my teenage years. You did a great job on it, as always and I love the print. I think the bias tape is perfect with the print of the dress. The dress is beautiful and so cheerful. I love the picture of your Mom and Dad and can just see how pretty her dress must have been in red.
    Funny how you can want something so bad when you are a teen but when it comes to your own kids wanting it there is a different story. LOL! I had a few of those conversations with my Mom when I was a teenager.

  10. fantastic dress! love the print!!
    i normally stay away from using home decor fabrics in apparel… well, except my current dress project, which i’m using vintage barcloth! it works though because it is super structured (the ~suggested fabrics~ were heavier stuff like taffeta & damask, not to mention the entire bodice & lining are interfaced). i like the way the weight of the home decor fabric works with your dress too. the skirt stands out nicely :)

  11. I really, really love this dress! I simply must find a similar pattern.

  12. Love this dress, Adey! And I like that you used a home dec weight and like the feel of it. I’m working on a self-drafted straight skirt pattern that seems to be able to take heavy-weight fabrics (which is good for all those home dec fabrics I bought at the beginning of my sewing adventures before I understood the concept of drape!). And I like your mom’s dress with the stripes too :)

  13. Love this dress and your choice of fabrics!

  14. Lovely! I can see where you get your beauty and style from – both of your parents were lookers and 100% hip!

  15. judy roberson

    So pretty.. Love the dress. Your mom was very pretty too..

  16. Thank you Debi! Think you made mum’s day :) You are right, definitely no problem with strong breezes in a dress made with this fabric!

  17. LOL! I think all mummies went to the same ‘school’. Am so happy that you like the dress :)

  18. Aw, thank you so much Jen! It’s a real adventure every time I sew and even more so with new fabrics!

  19. Thank you so much Jessie! Yes, home decor fabric is definitely great for a skirt and if the fabric feels good, you can even skip the lining:)

  20. Thank you Cathe! You definitely made mum’s and dad’s day by saying that! Yes, Japanese patterns are definitely doable and I love how they create very unique pieces at times:)

  21. OMG, this can’t possibly be a maxi, LOL!
    Yay! It’s a rainy day today! phew!

  22. LOL! Indeed, it is true that we become our mums when we have kids of our own. Appreciate your sweet comment and encouraging words! I wished I had a chance to see mum’s dress in actual color.

  23. Thank you Lauren! Can’t wait to see how your current dress project turns out! I’m intrigued by the description.

  24. Thank you Amber! I hope you find one you like. I’ve seen a lot of similar patterns with only one centre pleat, double inverted pleats seemed less common for some strange reason.

  25. Thank you Amanda! I think it’s pretty safe to use home decor for your straight skirt! Can’t wait to see it! I too have quite a few home decor and quilting fabrics which I bought when I started sewing and didn’t know there was a difference between quilting and apparel fabrics in my stash:)

  26. Thank you Rachel! I’m thrilled that you like them:)

  27. Aw, you are so sweet my dear, Thank you!

  28. Thank you so much Judy! Mum will be thrilled:)

  29. I absolutely adore the fabric and the pleats – I think this dress is just perfect!! Very well done :)

  30. Thank you Meg! Have a great weekend!

  31. Adey you are really fabulous on your sewing machine. Love the dress it’s so colourful and those pleats are spot on. Your parents look darling in that photo too.

  32. Thank you so much Kazz! I am so glad that you like the dress!