Hot! The “Fighting back” red lace dress | Adey Lim



The Facts

Fabric: Red lace and satin lining from Arab Street $20
Pattern: Project 6, ‘Retrospective is Stylish’ Japanese sewing book
Notions: Invisible zipper from stash
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: July 2011
Wear again? Yes, to parties for sure. Not so sure about shopping in it yet :) 

The Hitchcock theme turned out to be really difficult for me. Though I was quick to choose the gorgeous red lace dress wore by Grace Kelly in the film ‘Dial M for Murder’ (1954) as inspiration, I soon realized that few women were going to look this elegant in such a sexy red lace number. As a Daily Mail article described

“Unlike her blonde bombshell contemporaries (Monroe, Bardot and their ilk), Kelly wasn’t overtly sexual. No, she was a fresh-faced girl next door. Vogue called her ‘too wholesome to be mysterious?’ “


Kelly’s dress was designed by four times Oscar costume design nominee, Moss Mabry, who was also responsible for the unforgettable red windbreaker James Dean wore in ‘Rebel without a cause’ (1955). In ‘Dial M’, with the exception of this particular red lace dress, the rest of Kelly’s garments were said to be bought off the rack. The vibrancy of the dress was significant as Hitchcock ensured her clothes went from bright to somber as her character changes in the film.

Looking at Mabry’s design, I’ve considered using Simplicity 3262 from my stash and also thought of sewing a faux lace bolero dress from Advance 7011 (from my swap & return arrangement with Natasha from Nottingham). While I really liked the versions on the pattern covers, I knew I would NEVER wear them in red lace. 


I was STUCK big time and even considered switching films! But, I didn’t, I am just too stubborn to admit defeat. I decided to fight back by asking myself why I loved Kelly’s red lace dress. It certainly has to do with the fact that she made it look ladylike and sexy in a very subtle way. With these thoughts, I decided to challenge myself to make a red lace dress with these qualities while drawing inspirations from Kelly’s dress- the elegant drop waist, the neckline as focal point and off course red lace. After days of browsing through my patterns and sewing books, I finally settled on this feminine 1950s inspired dress pattern from “Retrospective is Stylish”. Drop waist, checked. Collar brings interest to the neckline, checked. Ladylike, checked.

IMG_0506Using a size 11 pattern, the only modifications I made were to make the dress sleeveless (and hence weather friendly) and to shorten and reshaped the skirt to avoid the lace dress looking too formal. If I can sew it into a dress demure and casual enough to be wore shopping, it would be ideal! 

SqaureI love how the collar turned out at the sides and back but something went wrong with the front. I am not sure if something got lost in translation but the front of the collar didn’t lay flat. I solved the problem by shortening it but by doing so, the collar didn’t meet in the middle. I didn’t want to unpick lace and satin together. That would have been majorly nerve wrecking! Instead, I improvised by drafting and adding two smaller collar pieces to create sort of a petal collar.

I couldn’t help taking these fighting back with the murderer shots with scissors, coat hanger, torch light and glass sculpture.  Off course Kelly wasn’t in this the red lace dress by then. These are just for fun! Cluedo time: which was the weapon used by Kelly’s character in the film?


At the end of the day, I am glad I fought back. Besides the petal collar which happened by fluke, I love observing the skirt’s scallop edge hanging separate from the shorter lining which hem was cut on the selvage.  

I’m going away on vacation for the next two weeks so see you lovelies in August! Woo hoo!



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.


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  1. This is gorgeous! But then, there are few things that make me happier than a red dress. I love the dropped waist and collar detail, too. Yum!

  2. Rina Costenaro

    beautiful dress, nice picture! mistery, thriller,fear…brrr
    you really got into the game! I loved!

  3. This dress is so fabulous on you Adey! And I know it sounds stereotypical but I think pretty asian women look so beautiful in red ! I want to make a red dress now too. It’s the perfect mix of fiery and demure.

  4. This is a great interpretation! Very well suited for the modern woman :) You should definitely wear it shopping.

  5. Grace Kelley is my favorite Hitchcock star b/c she is so elegant. Your dress is wonderfully elegant too. You should take it with you on your vacation and go out to a nice dinner with your husband. And I believe she uses scissors as a weapon.

  6. Personally I love Grace Kelly and can see why Mr. Hitchcock casted her in so many of his movies. Maybe not mysterious but so elegant! Your dress is lovely and I love your dramtic poses! Not sure about the actual weapon!
    I love that you didn’t give up! The final dress is a real knock out!
    Have a wonderful vacation!

  7. Adey – you look beautiful! Grace Kelly is one of my favorite movie stars, but she’s got nothing on you in this dress! Well done!

  8. Gorgeous! Love how you did the hemline. Such fun pictures!

  9. How beautiful! And clearly you are a force to be reckoned with. Anyone that tries something on you should beware of the scissors!

  10. I hate to say it but this dress is seriously too gorgeous to merely go shopping in. Unless you are going to buy diamonds or the like. (you look stunning!)

  11. Thank you so much Tanitisis :) Have a great sewing week!

  12. Thanks Rina, it was great fun posing for the photos:)

  13. Thanks for the compliment Justine, I think red looks splendid on you too (saw your thrift shop redo version!) and would seriously love to see you sewing another :)

  14. Thank you pinsandpatience! I may one day go shopping in it alone if I feel brave enough, my hubby wouldn’t want to do shopping with me in this dress. Too much attention he said LOL

  15. Oh, that is such a great suggestion! Thanks Jessie and yes, you are right about the weapon!

  16. Grace Kelly is the goddess of elegance for sure:) Haha, I had fun posing those dramatic pix. Thank you, I am gonna have a great vacation!

  17. Aw, thank you thank you sweet Sarah!

  18. LOL! Thanks Melissa! Well, those are the scissors I use for cutting fabrics so too precious to use on anyone kekeke

  19. Aw, thank you so much Jen!

  20. Love your dress! The red lace is fantastic and the collar looks perfect. Well done!!! Have a great vacation!!

  21. love love love!! And the red is fabulous on you. I love the way you thought it all through. You are making me think in a whole new way! A total winner and I’m sure you’ll wear this to many a party! have a great holiday!

  22. So beautiful Adey! I am in awe of your sewing abilities (sewing with lace is something I want to try!!) Hope you are having a fabulous time on your vacation!!! xoxoxoxo