19 July 2017

An Orla Affair - Sewing my first The Orla Dress

I have sewn my first dress and I think it turned out pretty good!

Sewing My First The Orla Dress - Front
Yes, I am totally rocking sunglasses in the shade

My sewing experience includes quite some refashionings of old jeans, shirts and dresses. Also two selfmade pants from several years ago, one a comfy but not-good-enough-for-going-out-so-wearing-at-home-only version and the other one I never finished, cause I realized it's gotten too tight. Too tight again trying a shirt drafted from my favourite one, but that was such a total fail I don't talk about it. And then some other things, a bag, a hat, juggling balls,...

But this time, I tried my best and I was so excited to make my own Orla Dress. Of course I needed to make some small mistakes, but overall I totally love it and I have learned so much!

Sewing My First The Orla Dress - Side

The pattern

It's from French Navy and you can find it here for free!

I think the instructions are clear and not complicated. They should be enough for anyone, who has ever sewn a dress or a shirt. And probably also good enough for any beginner.
For me, who has never done that by a pattern, this sewalong by Maker Style did help a lot. There are links to tutorials for the neckline and zipper. As I wanted to make it as good as I can, I searched for other Orla Dresses to see how other seamstresses made it and what tips they have.

The pattern itself is very easy to understand. There is no confusion possible regarding the different size lines. If there were, sure I would be the first to have problems with that (feel free to laugh here!).

The dress turned out to be exactly as the pattern says: semi-fitted bodice and a slightly raised waist.

Sewing My First The Orla Dress - Back
But no slightly raised waist at my back

My fabric

I used a jersey with 95% cotton and 5% spandex, which is quite stretchy. As you can see it's a darker grey with lighter grey, pink, white and black kittens on it.
I bought 2m (€13,95/m) and I think I can do a shirt with the rest of it!
After pre-washing, the fabric started to roll up at the edges.

My adjustments

I was very brave and even made a toile first! But I have to admit I made it from a woven 100% cotton, which you shouldn't do when using a jersey for the real version... Still, I can see almost no difference between my toile and my dress. Only the sleeve gathers are much more intense on my toile, while they seem almost flat at the jersey dress.

As I have never sewn a pattern, you can imagine I have never adjusted one. So this part was not easy for me. Seeing what is wrong and how to adjust it?? I've watched quite some videos and looked up a ton of websites and still feel like I have absolutely no clue.

After measuring I was directly in between M and L. I went for M.
Fortunately, the pattern seems to fit me already quite well, so I got away with only minor adjustments:

The sleeve-to-bodice-connection I left as is, but I used 2 cm seam allowance and cut off the excess fabric.
I tried to figure out where my apex is and decided to move the bust darts about 1.5cm in and 2cm lower. I also made them slightly broader at the bottom.
Then I took in the waist from the bodice 1cm, grading out from 11cm measured from the waist to the bottom.
Due to using an elastic jersey I didn't need a zipper, so I just closed the back seam at the end.
And as I see no sense in making your own clothes without pockets I added inseam pockets. This tutorial by Anna Zoe is just purrfect! She also has a tutorial for sewing this here.

For the hemlines (skirt, sleeves and neckline) I used bought black bias tape. As I said above the fabric started to roll up after washing and I wanted to be sure it won't roll up when worn. I attached it using this tutorial (no I did not know how to use bias tape before).

Sewing My First The Orla Dress - Sleeves
Too much sleeve at the back 

Further notes on sewing The Orla Dress

I knew it would not be fitting tight, but if I make another one, I would try size S or at try to change the neckline, sleeve connection, back and waist. I just like my clothes better to be more fitting tight. Especially with the gathers, I think it can look unflattering - or as my boyfriend said: You look a little bit like you wear a bag. Side note: We are always this nice to each other.
In generell the sleeves are not that well fitting. The back side seems to have more fabric and therefore it looks a little bit strange. Maybe I do have forward shoulders?
Also the waistline is quite a lot lower in the back, which would need to be fixed. But I don't think that is such a big problem.

The mistakes I made:
When attaching the skirt to the bodice I accidentally sewed one of the back darts to the waist instead of the center. I already finished the hem when I noticed this and I decided I'm too lazy to fix it. Live with it!
Also I managed to make one very small fold at the back neckline (almost can't see it) and again, too lazy to fix it, though this would be a quite fast and easy fix.

Sewing My First The Orla Dress - Back Waistline
See the waistline getting lower at the back?

If you can see something you think I should have done better or different - please tell me! I am a very beginner and I can use every help.
Who loves cats as much as I do and needs to have them on clothes?

UPDATE: Check out my Dirndl-style Orla Dress

And for anyone wondering, where the hell I took those photos: It's an abandoned piggery near my home. Do not go into such unsafe old buildings (the farmer who owns this already told me I'm not allowed to go in there *sigh*)

Old abandoned piggery
Two old piggeries - not used for many many years

Old abandoned piggery
View from inside out

Old abandoned piggery
Nature is coming back! 

Old abandoned piggery
I love such abandoned places!

Anyone else fancy such old buildings?



  1. Wow, first dress? First Pattern adjusting? Wow. I hope I can do such a good job when I finally dare sewing something for myself.

    1. Such lovely words, thank you Nathalie! But you are already so good at sewing, you sure will make something amazing for yourself too. Just do it ;-)

  2. Great rendition for a first dress! And I like the shooting place, Urbex is always cool (even if forbidden lol)

    1. Urbex! Yes, I knew there was a word for this! And thank you :)

  3. Trying to decide what to do for my Orla at the moment....thanks for the fitting and construction notes. I might size down to get a tighter fit (don't want to be wearing a bag!)

    1. Ooh I'm excited to see it, everyone has so nice ideas for their Orlas! If I make another Orla I would definitely size down.

  4. It looks great and suits you well. I also had the idea of making this dress from jersey and was wondering if that would be a good idea because I've seen only until now versions made of woven fabrics. The opportunity of having a dress without a zipper was so appealing to me and looking at your version I think I give it a go as well.

    1. Thank you Sonja! It's probably just because the pattern doesn't say jersey. But this totally works! It is sooo comfortable without the need of a zipper. I'd just say consider making it a bit smaller, of course depending on your choice of fit.

  5. Gorgeous! Love the material you have chosen x

    1. Thanks Jessica! It is indeed a very nice fabric.