The Orla Dress: Pattern Review

Hi, my name is Maddie, and I’m addicted to making the same thing over and over again.

(“Hi, Maddie.”)

There are a couple of things that are just basic facts about me that we should get out in the open.  One is that if I can get lost, I will get lost.  I’m a bright girl.  I have a master’s degree.  But I just cannot get the hang of navigation.

Another is that if I like a pattern, I will make it nine million times and never get bored of it.  Exhibit A: all my Lous.  Exhibit B: Driftless cardigans.  And now, Exhibit C: the Orla Dress.

When Sarah released her fashion drawings of the pattern on Instagram, I knew it was a dress I would love.  I ordered some fabric for the pattern, but I just couldn’t wait for the package to arrive.  Impatient, I ended up pulling some pieces out of my stash.

The Orla Dress

Setting up the Pattern

orla dress pattern: the bottom edge of the top paper is directly aligned with the top of the paper under it.
Hard to see, but the bottom edge of the top paper is directly aligned with the top of the paper under it.

The Orla dress pattern comes in two print size options, A0 and A4.  Because I’m in the US,  I printed the A4 on US letter sized paper.  It worked, basically!  Here’s my experience aligning the pattern, although it could be specific to my printer.

The printer cut off the left and bottom sides of the pages.  I only saw the tip of the triangle you use to match up pages.  I gently folded a piece of the paper over so that the tip of the left triangle matched the one on the right.  Since I could see the lower triangle through the paper, I shaded it in.  Then because I had shaded the back of the paper, I shaded the front.  I did the same thing for the top and bottom triangles, too.  It turns out that my printer cut off just at the lower edge of that triangle.  I was able to buddy up the left edge of all my pages to the right edge of the page before it, and the top to the bottom as well.

Orla dress pattern layout: You can kind of see the triangle I shaded in between 1 and 2.
You can kind of see the triangle I shaded in between 1 and 2.

Tl;dr, if you’re printing US letter, use A4 and you may be able to just line your left and bottom edge of the paper up to where the right and top edge of preceding pages left off because they printed normally.

I also cut a pattern piece for the neckline since there’s not one included and I knew I’d forget otherwise.  Sarah’s directions are all metric, so for my US friends, I cut a 30″ x 1 3/4″ neckline piece for the medium size.   If you’re going larger, maybe throw another inch on the length.  I think that you could cut a 1 1/2″ width and be okay.

Sewing the Orla Dress

I cut my first Orla dress out of a super lightweight flannel.  There was about 1 3/4 yards of it and with some (ahem) creative rearranging of the sleeves and neckline strip, I was able to squeeze the whole dress out of it, including the skirt that I lengthened (see modifications for more detail).  The second one I made was out of 2 yards of fabric 60″ wide, which definitely was easier!  Yardage between 2 and 2 1/2 yards depending on the width is a good guideline for this pattern.  I cut out a medium, which has approximately a 35″ bust, 27″ waist.  I was right in between a small and a medium.  The small would have been fine, but I like the loose look of the medium.

Sarah allows for 1 cm seams, which is a little larger than 3/8″.  I sewed 3/8″ seams and didn’t run into any problems.  This dress is simple and Sarah’s directions are clear, so I didn’t run into any wonky bits while sewing.  From cutting the dress out to finishing the hem, it took approximately 3 hours.  The most time consuming bit for me (and it always is) was gathering the skirt, but even that didn’t take too long.  The pattern really isn’t fiddly at all, so it comes together very quickly.The Orla Dress

What I Modified

Since Sarah noted that she drafted for someone 170 cm tall, aka 5′ 6″, I knew I was going to have to add some length to the skirt.  I added 4 1/2″ inches to my flannel one for enough length to maintain her 3 cm/1″ hem.  I’ll probably bounce between 4 1/2″ and 2 1/2″ in added length, depending on why I want to wear it.  The longer skirt is just at my kneecap, which is great for work or formal wear.  Shortening it to 2 1/2″ would make it a little flirtier and fun for summer.  My floral Orla has the shorter hem, and I love it!  Because all my height is in my limbs, I did not make any bodice adjustments.  I rarely have to do this as a #sewingtall modification, but if you do, do a muslin/toile.

The Orla Dress - Maddie Made This

The pattern also calls for a 16″ invisible zip.  I only had 20-22″ zips on hand when I made it, so I used those, but I’m not convinced a 16″ zip would work for me anyways.  While my body type is generously described as “beanpole,” I am proportionally hippy, and I probably will continue to use a longer zipper.

Summary

Yardage needed: minimally 1.75 yards, ideally 2 + more if you’re pattern matching.

Level: Advanced beginner (invisible zipper)

Time: approximately 3 hours

General modifications: setting up the pattern for US letter paper, 20-22″ zipper instead of 16″

#SewingTall modifications: Add between 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ inches to skirt length, depending on purpose.

Other Fun Stuff

I’m linking my floral Orla dress to the Social Sew linkup hosted by Allie J!  I’ve never done a linkup before (clearly, since this is like my third real blog post), so hopefully I’m doing this right…  I’m a longtime lover of linkups, though, because I know I’ll always find some really great ideas.  All of Allie’s past linkups have resulted in some gorge work, so I’m excited to see what else her readers come through with this month.  PS – Allie, if you see this and you’d like me to shift where this shoutout is, please let me know!

The Social Sew