Waaaaaay back in December, a little ol’ Instagrammer named Sarah (@frenchnavynow) released her first dress pattern. I fell in love immediately, and whipped up a couple… and then a couple more… If you’ve been following me for a minute, you’ll know that the Orla Dress is a staple in my wardrobe.
Well, Sarah has given the Orla a run for its money. She’s released a brand new pattern, and I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for it! I’ve tested some patterns before (like the Maxine), but this was definitely the most comprehensive pattern testing I’ve ever done. I’m so proud of this dress, this pattern, and Sarah, whom I count as a friend even though we’ve never met. So today, in a long-overdue post, we’re talking about the Forsythe Dress! Like, so long overdue that it’s pre-hair chop in May and also I have two hair lengths in this post…
Remember, you can WIN a copy of the Forsythe dress this month in our An Orla Affair competition! Head over to that post in the link for the full details, but the gist is this: make an Orla from Sarah’s free pattern, post it to Instagram, and be in the running for one of our awesome prizes!
The Forsythe Dress
Setting Up the Forsythe
One thing you all may remember about the Orla Dress is that it doesn’t come with a US Letter template. Sarah-May has come to the rescue of us Americans, though! The Forsythe has a US letter/A4 and copyshop layout. You should be good to go, fellow Americans — no weird tiling needed.
I made a straight size small, just like I do for the Orla. On the striped Forsythe, I didn’t make any changes — I didn’t even add length to the skirt! May or may not have forgotten to do that… On the floral one, I did raise the waistline by 3/4″ or 1.5 cm. The Forsythe is a dropped waist dress, which I love the look of. But since my waistline is SO high and my legs are so long, I decided to raise it a little. I think now it still has a dropped waist kind of feel, but gives me a little more definition. I actually forgot to add length to this skirt as well, so these are both fun dresses as opposed to work dresses. However, I definitely don’t feel like they’re too short to wear in public, so that’s a definite plus #sewingtall friends!
Sewing the Forsythe Dress
Something I love about Sarah-May’s patterns is that they’re super easy. The Forsythe Dress has so many lovely little details, but you’re never left scratching your head over what you’re being asked to do! As long as you remember which way on the side panels is up (hint: the straight side!), you’re really good to go. Her pattern is laid out beautifully, and includes photos instead of technical drawings.
The trickiest part for me was getting the back skirt attached to the button up back. It’s not designed to be hard — I just had to pin, pin, pin to make sure the panels overlapped at the button band and didn’t come loose! I also used bias tape I had on hand instead of making matching bias tape to finish off the neckline, and added extra buttons because I was too lazy to properly mark the holes…
The sleeve cuffs are actually one of my favorite elements to this dress. They kind of remind me of the ones on the Bridgetown Backless Dress or the Kalle. I’m actually kind of obsessed with this sleeve finish right now, as it’s easy and simple. Unlike the cuffs on the Bridgetown, though, the Forsythe’s cuffs sit well on my body! They’re such a clean and simple way to finish off the sleeves, and bring just the right amount of structure.
I am totally in love with this dress, you guys! It’s such a simple silhouette, but you can do so much with it. It’d be gorgeous in a silk for a date night, or comfy in a chambray for everyday wear. A linen would be lovely and light for the summer, but a flannel or thicker wool would keep you cozy in winter (and make some gorgeous silhouettes with those sleeve cuffs!). Plus the style lines allow for so much fun experimenting with pattern and stripe layouts. There’s so many ways you can take this versatile dress!
Yardage needed: 2 yards
Level: Advanced beginner (button holes)
Time: approximately 2 hours
General modifications: setting up the pattern for US letter paper, shortened waistline
#SewingTall modifications: Think about adding three inches to skirt — but you may need less depending on your waistline.