Hot! The “Orange Tab” Dress | Adey Lim


IMG_0890The Facts

Fabric: Navy blue viscose blend 2 metres and orange cotton 1 metre $15 from textile centre
Pattern:  McCall's 1088 with self drafted back variation.
Year: c. 1960s
Notions: 8 buttons
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: October 2011
Wear again? Yes

Total Cost: ~$15

Back in junior college, a close friend of mine who was THE fashion guru of our cohort was telling us the color to avoid, "We can't wear orange, it's just not flattering on us since we have yellow skin undertone." Those words stuck in my head for more than twenty years because it is so true. Orange just wasn't a color I could wear and this friend of mine later became editor-in-chief of a top fashion magazine so she should know a thing or two about colors. But, orange is huge this season. Is it a color you wear in abundance or sparingly? For me, I am quite happy to have orange in accessories such as bags and shoes but not so much on clothes. 

To make orange work, I had to mix it with a wearable color so I toyed with the ideas of using orange with purple, orange with brown, orange with hot pink and eventually settled with orange with navy blue. It was this pair of shoes I was wearing in the photos that convinced me to go with this combi. I needed more garments  that would go with these shoes. They just aren't getting enough outings. 

The original 1960s pattern came with a simple back with a centre zipper but while walking passed Prada last week, I saw a black mod dress with bareback and tab/button closures (sorry forgot to snap a photo and couldn't find that dress online) and decided to make my own version by modifiying the back of the dress.  Instead of having the second tab at the base of the back opening like the Prada version, I moved it up a little to hide the bra strap. Before I cut the back piece on the fold, I deducted 1.5cm from the centre as I didn't need the centre back seam. I drafted the back opening  first and once I was happy with it, I used it as a guide to draft the back facings.  I noticed that tabs on Prada's version had slight arcs and drafted these likewise.


The faux piping at the neckline, sleeves and back opening are actually a small extension of the facings. I think it is a lot faster to sew these compared to piping and the additional steps were to cut the facings slightly bigger and to iron them a little more to the outside before topstitching. The facings of the front and lower back tabs were cut from scrap fabrics of brown and orange polka dots, little details that only the wearer would know.


The vintage buttons on the tabs are orange with purple border while the two at the lower front are yellow with orange border. I used a light orange topstitching thread to topstitch the tabs and liked that the thicker thread really made the stitches pop. Something I've learnt from one of your comments:)


Another detail that only the wearer would know, the pockets are also orange in color. And though orange and I do not go, I do like the contrast it lends to navy blue.


It has been raining cats and dogs here so I had to take refuge at Ikea's carpark to get these photos taken. And there I found myself a matching orange scooter!  I hope you are enjoying much better weather than me.



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. *insert squealy sound* LOOOOOOOOOVE this! If it weren’t so very illegal, I would kidnap you and have you make me awesome dresses like this.

  2. I really like the back modification you did on this and the pop of orange on the navy is wonderful. Those shoes definitely need more outings they are adorable!!

  3. how absolutely adorable this is! I love it very much :)

  4. What a beautiful combination.. Love the navy and orange together.. The modification of the back ..just adorable..You look great..[love the photo with the orange bike, striking against the dress..good idea!!]
    Happy sewing.

  5. I love the navy/orange combo, as well as the modifications you made to the dress. It’s a great style on you, and I especially love the photo with the orange scooter!

  6. Holy Adorable, Batman! This is so cute! And what a lovely modification in the back, I just love it!

  7. I LOVE THIS DRESS SOOOOOO MUCH!!! The back is amazing, the color combo is awesome…I love every single detail you put into this dress! =D

  8. WOW! Adey your eye for detail is fantastic – I love this dress – just enough orange to make it sing!!

  9. I love your use of orange! It goes so well with the blue. Excellent work (as always).

  10. Gorgeous dress!!! I love the idea of the back tab hiding the bra. You outdid yourself!

  11. Wow Adey! I think this is one of the best things you have made! The 60’s shift suits you perfectly. Great shoes and the details – such thoughtfulness. Hope you wear it lots. I think Asian women look amazing in green tones – like Jade green, but they rarely seem to wear it – good call on the navy!

  12. Another great dress. I am really drawn to the 60s style shift dresses with tabs at the side and front waists.

  13. Brilliant Adey! I just adore the piping and the tabs!!! The back of that dress is AWESOME..I want to see more pics!!! :)

  14. Adey. rocks. it!

  15. So. ADORABLE!!! The back tabs are fabulous, and the 60s vibe of the dress just rocks my socks. Great job!

  16. That dress is very cute. Have you read any of the “Colour me beautiful” (Carole Jackson) books?

  17. I love this! The back is awesome. You’re so clever!

  18. Fantastic vintage pattern, great color combo – love the way the orange pops against the navy! And what an inspired update to the back!

  19. That dress is SO cute! I love the tab detail and the orange looks fabulous. The faux piping is awesome. Great job!

  20. Amazing, gorgeous, fabulous – yet another beautiful dress – you are so clever – and I LOVE the shoes. Are they Irregular Choice or Poetic licence? I love their shoes….
    About the yellow undertone – according to Bobbi Brown, most women have yellow undertones in their skin, not pink – and she says her foundations and powders are the best for most women because she uses a lot of yellow. In fact the only pink toned skin makeup she has (as opposed to eyeshadow blush blablabla) is an undereye concealer to use to cover brown shadows – to be used under one of her usual yellowy tones. So you may want to rethink what your friend told you. i find that as a not that pale freckly strawberry blonde I can actually wear certain shades of pink but not others – same with orange and yellow – you need to get rid of the mental block and hold them up against your face in a good light. I’m sure you can wear more colours than you think, you have such great skin.

  21. I just love the mod styling Adey, perfect use of orange.

  22. Yikes Adey! You’ve totally captured a great look, and found a new era for yourself! MOD! Gorgeous!

  23. Thanks so much! It’s a huge compliment:)

  24. Thanks Shawn! Yeah! Hopefully I can make a few more outfits to go with those shoes:)

  25. Thanks Judy, I love that orange scooter too, just wished I could move it to a better spot for phototaking kekeke

  26. Thanks Meg! I’m loving the mod look at the moment:)

  27. Thank you so much Melissa!

  28. Thank you Debbie:)

  29. Thank you Christina:) I’m always concerned about wearability so that was the first thing I wanted to do when I settled on doing the back opening.

  30. Thanks Trish. I haven’t tried jade green but I just might since green is my fave color:)

  31. Thanks Crystal! Me too, tabs rock:)