Floral Orla (French Navy Now Orla)

I'm going to go a little wild with the pattern hacking in the coming weeks, so to start off my month of Orla dresses, I thought I'd first make a plain version just as written, only making my personal fit modifications.

Sometimes people ask what fitting I do, and I always think this is kind of a funny question. First, I'm no fit expert. I generally strive for "better than off the rack" and focus my adjustments on fitting my smaller bust and larger hips (#pearproblems) but I don't claim that my clothes fit perfectly (except when I do). Secondly, every body is different! That's why we sew right? So I can tell you in minute detail what changes I made, but that doesn't necessarily mean those are the changes you should make! Even if my bust/waist/hip numbers are exactly the same as yours, we won't have the same all-over shape: even after taking like 100 measurements for my sloper, I still made adjustments! It's not a perfect science. But, since you ask, here are the adjustments I made:

Bust dart: The bust dart on the Orla is pretty high on me, over the apex of my bust. Luckily, this is a really easy change to make! If you made a muslin, mark the apex of your bust, and then transfer that point to your pattern piece. (i.e. if your bust point is 1" lower than the dart point of your muslin, measure 1" lower on your pattern piece.) Then measure about 1" straight down from your bust point to find the point of your dart! You don't want the point of the dart to end right on the apex of your bust. Redraw your dart legs and you're good to go. Here's a tutorial explaining. (If you don't feel comfortable doing flat pattern modifications, you could even make the bodice of the dress (without sewing the darts), then try it on and pin them into place on your body.)

Waist: The waist of the Orla hits just above natural waist on me, but this is intentional--the pattern description says the Orla has a "flattering, slightly raised waist," so for this version, I left the waist where it is. Stay tuned for upcoming versions, though!

Neckline: The neckline of the Orla is very sliiightly squared off as written. I raised it by 1" (personal preference) and rounded it out just the tiniest bit.

Sleeves: I have forward shoulders so I made a forward shoulder adjustment by slicing off the top of the sleeve pattern and scooting it forward before reattaching it and redrawing the curves. I talked about doing this during my sloper tribulations but here's a little tutorial on it.

Skirt: No adjustment--this is a simple gathered rectangle skirt, my favorite style and easy to fit, so I left it as is.

Finally, although the rest of my month of Orlas will not be done in quilting cotton, this one is. I know a lot of bloggers pooh-pooh quilting cotton, and they're right--it's not the correct fabric for many projects. For this dress, athough it does call for rayon or similar, a quilting cotton is a perfectly fine choice, especially for a beginner who doesn't want to wrangle a slippery fabric! Many of my first dresses were made with quilting cotton, and it's an easy option for a summer sundress that doesn't depend on drapey fabric. An Orla in quilting cotton makes an extra simple throw-on-and-go summer dress.

What do you think of this original, as-designed Orla? I like that it has that essential 50s look without being too vintage-y; it's very wearable for even a non-vintage lover. I hope you agree, and I'd love to see your versions!


ps: okay, okay, so its not exaaactly as written... i couldn't help myself and added a tiny bit of piping at the waist when i noticed i already had perfectly matching bias tape!

this post may contain affiliate links.


  1. Very sweet summer dress! I agree that dresses with this silhouette can work very well in quilting cotton, and that was pretty much all I sewed as a beginner. This fabric certainly works, the print is fantastic for garments!

  2. I'm carefully thinking about joining in. The dress is a classic style that would be great for anyone, but my sewjo has been in the tank.

  3. I am in! Pretty dress and it looks perfect for summer and spring too. Mom

  4. Oooh it looks so lovely! I do want to make an Orla too, pretty curious how this works for me as I've sewn from patterns only twice yet, haha!

  5. Allie, this dress is beautiful. I have been thinking of sewing one orla dress for me, but my schedule is not allowing me to work for myself. Thanks for reminding me that i should have sometime for me :). I will share with you all once i will be done.

  6. 1. This is very pretty and cheery and I like it, and 2. I'm excited to see you bringing the community together again. Love your blog and I often find fun new ones through you too!

  7. Beautiful version of this dress! Do you have the dimensions of the skirt pieces? Seems like a hassle and a waste of paper to print out all the pieces for 2 rectangles.



Back to Top