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The Orla Dress

Posted by Jessica Povenmire on


After a week that's felt kind of chaotic and unplanned, I'm finally getting myself organized.  Is it really almost Friday already? I definitely didn't get enough done for it to be Friday again...can we just start this week over?

That said, I did get a decent amount of sewing done. Three new tees and I'm ready to go! I finished the Orla Dress a couple of weeks ago, but I've been wearing it like crazy and it hasn't been clean for photos for quite some time. Someone's got a new favorite dress.



I've been seeing the Orla Dress by French Navy popping up here and there on Instagram from some of my favorite makers (like Maddie Made This and Handmade Carolyn) and I was intrigued.

I saved this picture from Madewell ages ago, with the plan to re-create my own version know, the inevitable "I could make that" syndrome. I had thought about making a second Washi Dress since I wear my first one so much, but I didn't want it to look to cute - I was hoping for more sophisticated.



Enter the Orla Dress! With the back zip and semi-fitted shape, it was just what I was looking for. Plus, it's FREE. Who can say no to a free pattern?! 



Because this is a more fitted dress than the drapey boxes that I usually make, I knew it would need a muslin for the top. Four muslins later, I finally had a fit that I liked! The pattern itself is written well, but I think it's drafted for someone with less curves and a smaller chest. My biggest challenge was dart placement. I ended up lowering them just a bit (maybe a half an inch) and moving them out towards the sides by just under an inch.

I also took about an inch of volume out of the sleeves, as I didn't want them to be too puffy. I used my Scout Tee pattern to help me figure out what the curve should look like. I lined up the notches on both pattern pieces and trimmed the Orla sleeve down. The sleeve caps don't fit the arm holes perfectly, and probably pull a little more than they should, but I'm pretty happy with the results!

Finally, I made it a little more fitted by taking about an inch out of each side (1/2" from each pattern piece) graded from the armpit to the waist. There's still room to move and layer underneath the dress, it just gives my waist a little bit more shape.

Oh - and of course, I added side seam pockets. Obviously. 



I think this pattern works best in fabrics with some movement to them, like rayon or voile. I got this chambray at Britex Fabrics during a weekend trip to San Francisco last year and have been waiting for the perfect project to cut into it. It's 100% cotton chambray, but the drape feels like it has some tencel in it to make it a little heavier. I haven't found anything like it since and I'm waiting for my chance to get some more next time I'm down there...fingers crossed they still carry it!



I love this pattern because it can be such a great starting point for variations. I can already see a long-sleeve version for winter or a pleated waist for a more tailored look. Or a deep v-shape in the back? So many options.



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