A dress for a fiver

I’m sorry, this is another post about dresses. I don’t know about you but I’m finding it very difficult keeping up to date with all the sewing posts appearing in my feed at the moment and I’m about two days behind. Apologies if I haven’t liked or commented on your posts – I’ll get caught up soon!

One of the reasons I’m a little behind is because I made myself another dress. This was not a planned make, but sometimes unplanned makes are the most fun!

I picked up a couple of metres of a gorgeous emerald-green fabric from a local charity shop when I dumped donated a load of unwanted clothes. I’ve never managed to pick up nice fabric before so I was quite excited! It did have that ‘left in the stash for too long’ smell about it but I washed it as soon as I got home. The smell has not gone entirely though – I’ll have to wear it in the fresh air!

I wasn’t sure what to make with it at first. My original plan was a summer top but then I realised I had this:

Bardot Dress from Simple Sews

Bardot Dress from Simple Sews

This was a free pattern from ‘Love Sewing’ magazine. I worked out I could just about get the short-sleeved version of the dress out of the fabric. The pattern calls for an invisible zip but I couldn’t find a close colour, and the zip would have cost more than the fabric!  I popped down to the Market Vaults in Scarborough, where a stall sells all sorts of buttons, ribbons, zips and other bits and bobs.  They didn’t sell invisible zips but I picked up a large metal zip for 40p and the colour was a great match.  I couldn’t find anything close to the right colour in the ‘proper’ shops!  The zip is a fair bit heavier than an invisible zip so I reinforced the fabric with some strips of fusible interfacing when I inserted it.

I don’t know what the fabric was made of but it frayed badly:


In fact I was concerned my fabric was about to disappear! I ended up overcasting all the edges before I started sewing. This took ages!

I cut a size 12 for the bodice and graded to a size 14 for the waist. I kept the size 14 skirt even though my hip measurements fit into size 12. This is becoming a standard adjustment for me. Need to get rid of my belly! Here is the finished dress:


Bryn picture

Apologies for the dappled shade! My garden was losing light rapidly and it was too dark to take photos anywhere else. Also, the photos were taken by my own Trainee Blog Manager (well Photographer) and I think he should be sacked! Look at the state of these:

Bryn pictures

Great finger shots! You don’t need to see my head do you? He’s only six so maybe he just needs a little longer in training…

The pattern comes with an optional tie belt which I haven’t made up yet but I have reserved some fabric for it if I do decide to make it. I’m not sure the dress needs it though. I was also supposed to cut a strip of fabric on the bias to bind the neckline but a found a ready-made satin one in the shops which was a good enough match. I bound the sleeve hem with it too (the pattern instructions tell you to turn it up and hem it). I’m normally a bit rubbish at applying bias binding so I slip stitched it all by hand on the inside of the dress. This looks much neater than when I try to do it all by machine.


Here is the cost breakdown:  fabric £2, thread £1.45 (+ some black from stash), zip 40p, interfacing strips 45p, bias binding 2 metres 80p. OK, the total was £5.10 but it’s close enough. I’m really pleased with that!

I really like the dress. It feels very girly and quite a ‘special occasion’ dress even though it was so cheap. I love the fit of the bodice and how the waistline hits the narrowest part of my torso. It also skims over my big tummy really nicely – you almost can’t tell it’s there! The neckline is going to take a little getting used to though and you need to wear a strapless bra which isn’t the most comfortable garment ever made! I wonder if I’ll be daring enough to just wear it (perhaps to work?) because special occasions don’t happen very often and I want to wear it soon!


15 thoughts on “A dress for a fiver

  1. It’s gorgeous on you and a bargain! My favourite colour. I have the pattern but haven’t made it yet. After seeing yours I might make one too but perhaps make the wide neckline narrower. You could put a nice diamante belt buckle with it for posh occassions! Nee bee x

    • That’s a thought! I’ve cut out the gold fabric now but at least I know that this pattern is a good fit if things go hideously wrong! (If things go hideously wrong I’m going straight back to Fabworks!)

    • Yes, the colour is beautiful! And tummy is cunningly hidden – we all have those bits that we don’t like about ourselves!

  2. Oh well done! I made this and it didn’t work out!!! The neckline/ sleeves were way too big and so I added elastic!! Hahaha!! Yours looks fabulous!

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