Eleven Fantastic Variations for the Orla Dress

Hey everyone!  Welcome to my first post for an Orla Affair!  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out the intro post here.  I’m so excited to be devoting an entire month to this dress.  I mean, at this point, if you don’t know of my love for the Orla, you must be a pretty new reader ?.  That love runs deep, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to proselytize a little more.  Today, I’m going to be sharing eleven(!) different styles and variations that the Orla Dress is the perfect base for!  All of these images and fabrics are on my Orla Dress Pinterest board, with more inspiration there!

*some of the links on this page are affiliate links.  this means that I may get a small commission from purchases you make using them, but doesn’t cost you anything!  of course, I only share things I love and that I think you’ll love too.*

Fabric Options for the Orla Dress


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com
fabric here

One of my first Orlas was in a gorgeous chambray (similar one here), and I love the minimalistic style of it.  The weight of chambray or a lightweight denim makes for a gorgeous Orla, as you get a really crisp shape.  Keep in mind, though, that if your fabric is too heavy, you may have to swap out the gathers at the waist for pleats, or redraft the skirt to match the waist right off the bat.


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com
blue stripes here, gray stripes here

The Orla dress is such a fun opportunity to play with stripes — plus it’s a super cute nautical look if you’re in the middle of summer!  Try cutting the bodice with horizontal stripes, and the skirt with vertical ones, or cutting a skirt on the bias.


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

Maybe girly is more your thing than minimal-chic — awesome!  The Orla is a great canvas for all your floral dreams.  My favorite Orla is out of the Rifle Paper Co floral rayon from their first collection, which I cannot recommend enough.


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com
lace trim here, eyelet here, border print here

Speaking of girly, lace would be such an adorable way to go with the Orla.   A lace trim around the hem or sleeves would be so sweet and delicate!  It would bring a little flair to a solid fabric, or add the perfect something to a garden party dress.  You could also do a white crocheted lace or eyelet with a contrast lining, or a lace overlay on the bodice and non-lace fabric on the bottom.  So many cute choices!


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

A velvet Orla is sooooo on my list for the holidays this year.  How luxurious would it be in a rich forest green or an antique gold?  Or maybe even a dusty pink for Thanksgiving?  I want allllll the velvet Orlas!  Too bad it’s the middle of summer here…


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

This one goes out to all my friends in the Southern Hemisphere.  Trying the Orla in a cozy knit would make it super winter friendly!  If you’re using a stable knit — no changes necessary.  But if your knit has stretch to it, contemplate sizing down, as well as stabilizing the waist a bit.  The Orla is meant to have a looser waist already, so you don’t want it to be too big or too heavy!

Orla Dress Hacks and Add-Ons


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

I’m still totally leaning into the embroidery trend!  I love the idea of a big piece of embroidery up the middle of the Orla bodice, or a delicate hem band.  Check back later this month for a little something special!

Lace up front

The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the simplest Orla hack, but it’s definitely on-trend!  I think a lace up front would be such a cute idea for an Orla, and so fun for the summer.  This is another one you should check back later in the month to learn more about ;).


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

I think a cute collar would add such a vintage element to this classic silhouette.  The Colette collars for the Moneta dress may work well with a little fudging!  Or, you can stay tuned for Anya’s post on adding a collar to the dress coming later this month.

Zipper/Button Front

The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

A zipper or button front Orla is definitely one style I’d love to try.  It should be pretty easy to insert an exposed zipper into the front of the Orla dress bodice.  In the past, I’ve used this Megan Nielsen tutorial and found it to be very clear.

The button front takes a little more fussing with, but I don’t think it’s that difficult of an addition to make, either.  The nice way to do it is to add fabric to the center of one side of the button front, and to cut a button band for the other side.  If you’ve made a button up shirt like the Archer, you know that you have extra fabric on the left side and you cut out a button band for the right.  You could do that — or, you could cut your front skirt in two pieces, and add 1.5″/4 cm to the centers of each piece.  Fold and iron in a .5″/1 cm seam allowance, and then the remaining 1″/3 cm to make the button band.  You’ll be folding and ironing to the wrong side, so the button band won’t look as professional, but it’s easy!


The Orla Dress Inspiration >> MaddieMadeThis.com

Every time I make an Orla, I forget to put in in-seam pockets and regret it.  Seriously, what’s the point of making your own clothes if you forget to put pockets in them?  In-seam pockets are so easy to draft and add in that even a beginner can do it!  I also absolutely LOVE the patch pocket in the inspiration photo.  It looks so big and handy!

Whew!  There you go, eleven different ways to really make your Orla dress your own.  If you’re making an Orla dress this month and posting it to Instagram, remember to use the tags #TheOrlaDress and #AnOrlaAffair to share it with everyone!  If you’re using one of these suggestions, use the #maddiemadethis tag or tag me @maddiemadethis too, because I definitely want to see.  And don’t forget to check out all the other posts from the Orla party co-hosts this month, as well.  Here’s the schedule if you need it.  See you next time!


  1. You always put together the best inspiration posts! So many great ideas – I am a big fan of a knit version! Might have to put that on my to-sew list.

    1. Thanks, Lara! They’re so much fun to put together so I’m glad people find them useful. I’d love to see a knit Orla (so I can learn from someone else’s experience and make my own… 😉 ).

  2. Absolutely love this!! So many good ideas!

    1. Thank you, Evelyn! I hope you found something to help you make the Orla dress your own!

  3. Thank you for this great post ! So many good ideas !! Now I picture an Orla Dress in every sinle fabric I own in my stash! And how could I not have thought of a velvet Orla dress before ?! This is genius!

    1. Thank YOU for reading! That’s the magic of the Orla — all of the sudden you want one in every fabric known to man. I’m just waiting for it to get cool so that I can make me a velvet version!

  4. Hi Maddie, this is a great post, thank you…so many variations on the Orla. Funnily enough I have some embroidered voile I was mulling over using. This is a fun idea for a challenge, well done! Suzy aka sewing_in_spain

    1. Thanks, Suzy! An embroidered voile would be so gorgeous — I can’t wait to see your Orla, regardless of the fabric!

  5. So many brilliant ideas! Thanks Maddie

    1. Thanks for reading!

  6. Loads of good ideas! 🙂 I am expecially a fan of pretty & practical pockets!

    1. Thank you! I love pockets, too — what’s the point of making your own clothes if you don’t add them in?!

  7. So, I succumbed and grabbed the Orla pattern! Too may IG posts for me to ignore it any longer. I’m going to give it a shot despite possibly being too tall and to curvy for it – we shall see! 🙂 Thanks for these inspiring hack ideas Maddie! – Eve

    1. Yes Eve! You won’t be too tall — it’s easy to add length to it, which I do! I can’t wait to see yours!

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