The £2.50 Dress

I went to my mum’s house with the intention of making a pattern from an old dress I have of hers (which is at risk of disintegrating as it’s been worn so many times!) but I ended up nabbing one of her most recent charity shop pattern purchases and cutting out the pieces to make a dress!

The pattern in question is Style ‘sew simple’ 2703 from the early eighties.  It cost 50p.

My mum picked it up because it reminded her of a dress she used to have which she use to wear all the time, which had sleeves that tie up like version 2 on the pattern.  The dress she had also had tassels to gather the waist as well.

The fabric is something I picked up last year from a charity shop.  It looks like someone’s discarded shibori dyeing experiment.  It was only £1, and I thought it would make a nice bag if I couldn’t get anything else out of it.

The pattern suggests 2 metres of fabric, but I definitely did not have this.  I did end up making the pockets from scrap fabric my mum had from another project, and I kept the original hem on the fabric so I didn’t have to lose any length by adding a hem allowance.

This pattern has a v neck on the front and back.  I wasn’t keen on this idea so I cut the back piece straight.  This meant a bit of fiddling about when attaching the front facing, but it worked out in the end.

The pattern suggests making the fabric ties the way you make rouleau ties.  This would work well with a softer fabric (which you’re supposed to use for this pattern), but I used a medium weight cotton which was not agreeing to this plan.  In the end, I pressed the long edges of the ties to the middle and then folded in half and stitched them.

One issue I had with this pattern was the vague indication of where the armholes were.  As I was doing view 2, there are no sleeves, and the pattern does not indicate with any mark where the armhole ends.  As a result, I ended up making them a bit too big initially, and made them smaller after trying it on towards the end.

My other alteration was to dd an elastic casing to it.  As I didn’t want to shorten the length, I used bias binding to stitch a casing to the wrong side.  I did buy some 12mm navy tape but I almost immediately misplaced it and then found some 18mm tape in my stash to use instead.  The wider tape worked out well as it meant I could use a slightly wider elastic (also found in my stash!)

I used thread my mum had from an old project which just about lasted to the end of the project!

Overall, this make has been a great stash buster.  It’s such a good feeling to use up a piece of fabric that’s been sitting in the stash for over a year with no real purpose.  Now I have a lovely new dress made at a bargain price to enjoy this summer!

Here is my pattern review breakdown:


  • Pattern name: 2703
  • Variation/Style: 2
  • Design House: Style ‘sew simple’ (Simplicity Patterns)
  • Size I made: 14


From a charity shop – looks like part of a cotton bed sheet as it had a hem on one side.  Shibori-dyed in what looks like a denim blue.


A lovely simple pattern which is quick to whip up (if you follow the instructions loyally)


Most of the instructions were fine.  However, I did find the armholes for this dress version confusing – this wouldn’t be an issue for version one which has integrated sleeves.


It’s a loose fitting dress which the pattern suggests to wear with a belt.  A belt or some sort of gathering is needed to give it shape.  This is why I added elastic casing.  However, it’s easy to fit as it’s loose fitting.


The pattern envelope describes this dress as a “pull-over-the-head” style which includes a v-neck on the front and back.  I wasn’t keen on the v-neck front and back so I cut the back straight.

There are optional side seam pockets which are surprisingly small.  I would definitely make them bigger next time as I have big hands!

The shoulders on the version I made are rouched with fabric ties, which I like.

Time Taken

I believe it took about a day in total – perhaps 8 hours including cutting out?  I had some issues with the sewing machine and did alter the pattern, which added an extra step.


It’s definitely a satisfying make and would work well with a lighter fabric than I used.  Mine will probably become more relaxed after a few washes!  It is a nice simple design but I would definitely do the elastic casing again, ignore the back v-neck again, and make the pockets bigger next time!

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