Lace Front Dress Hack >>

How to Add a Lace Front to the Orla

I’ll admit it: I wasn’t sold on the lace up trend at first.  I’m not one to shy away from less-covering items or anything, I just thought it was vaguely… piratey.  Like, a bad Pirates of the Caribbean ride, piratey.  Since then, I’ve seen a lot of really great renditions of the lace front.  I made a lace up dress last fall, and I also have one lace front RTW top that I love.  When I was compiling my Orla inspiration board, I kept coming back to an image of a denim dress with a lace front.  I knew that I had to make it one of my hacks for An Orla Affair!

I’ve made two lace front Orla dresses this month, and today I’m showing you how to make one for yourself.  I used a sanded satin from JoAnns for the first, and one of the new April Rhodes rayon c/o Hart’s Fabric for the second.  Thank you, Hart’s!  They’re one of our An Orla Affair sponsors — and just awesome in general!

Lace Front Dress Hack >>

How to Make a Lace Front Orla

You probably won’t need extra fabric for a lace front Orla as you do for a regular one.  As long as you usually have about an inch or two of fabric to spare, you don’t need to purchase any more than normal!

Redrafting a bodice for a Lace Front Orla

The first step to make a lace front Orla is to redraft the front bodice.  I don’t know about you, but the Orla’s front sits pretty high on me.  That’s great for work, but on a lace front Orla, I was envisioning something more fun and flirty.  I dropped the neckline about two inches right off the bat.  I had a rough estimate of how much I’d want to drop it based off my other Orlas.  If you’ve never made one before, though, trace off the bodice as-is and hold up that pattern piece to yourself.  Do you like the height?  Do you want it to drop down?  How much?  Keep that number in mind.

Then I calculated how deep I wanted the V in the front.  It’s not a dramatic V by any means, but you do want a slight one to really emphasize that lace up front.  Because I know how deep I like a V from that RTW blouse, I didn’t do a lot of experimenting.  You can and should, though!  I decided to end my V at the top of the bridge of my bra.  That may be too low for you, and that’s totally okay.  I have small boobs, and also am not particularly modest, so that’s why I ended it there.

I figured out where on the Orla bodice that was by holding up the regular pattern piece to my body and marking it.  Then I combined the measurement with where I dropped the neckline.  I drew a line about an inch in from the “cut on fold line” at the neckline down to the center of the bodice where I wanted the V to end.  Turns out that this was a little too booby, so I changed the V to be about a half inch from the center front on either side.

This leads me to an important point: do a muslin.  I really do NOT like doing muslins, because I just want to jump in!  I muslined the front of this top the first time I did it, and I should have just done the whole top.  My first version came out a little tight and a little low-cut, because turns out I accidentally cut a small instead of a medium!  It’s still totally wearable, but I wish I had taken the time to muslin out the whole thing and realize my error so that BOTH of my lace-up Orlas could be totally perfect.

Lace Front Dress Hack >>

Additional Pieces to Draft

You also will want to draft a facing for your V.  This is super easy — I traced the angle of my V, then extended it out an inch to the side.  I then cut this piece out on the fold.  Depending on the weight of your fabric, you may want to interface it.  I definitely recommend this, especially if you’re using grommets.  The last piece to cut out is your tie!  I cut mine at 1″ x the width of my fabric.  It was long enough to tie and have a cute bow without being super long and tangly.

Lace Front Dress Hack >>
This is what my facing looks like.

Sewing Your Lace Front Orla

Really, sewing a lace front Orla is basically the same as a regular Orla.  Darts, sleeves, waist, zipper.  I did a half circle skirt on my red version instead of the usual gathered one.  I think it’s adorable!  Save the bias binding at the neck for last.

When it’s time to add in your front facing, put the facing on the bodice, right sides together with the facing on the top.  Stitch a narrow 3/8″ or 1cm seam.  You can clip the center of your V for easier folding, but don’t clip through the seam!  Then fold the facing to the inside of the bodice.  Understitch as best as possible.

Lace Front Dress Hack >>

Add in your bias neckline as usual.  The only change is that you have to do it twice instead of once, since you have two halves of the neckline.

Mark where you’d like your holes to be.  This depends a lot on how deep and how wide your V is.  I had six holes in my first, and wish I had made one at the very top of the V.  If your fabric is thick, it might be too difficult to get through the bodice, facing, and bias binding there, but try and get as close as you can.  You can then make your holes with a grommet punch or the buttonhole setting.  My grommets were 3/8″ and I recommend using a 1/2″ if you can find it.  Punch your grommets or make and open your buttonholes!

Lace Front Dress Hack >>
Marking out grommet placement.

The last step is the easiest, making the tie.  There are two ways you can do this.  I prefer to essentially make double-fold bias tape.  Fold the top 25% of the fabric to the center and the bottom 25% of the fabric to the center, and iron.  Then fold the whole thing in half again and iron.  Stitch down the folds.  Alternatively, you can fold the right sides together, stitch a scant 1/4 or 1/2 cm seam, and turn the tube right side out.  Stitch the ends in.  Lace your front, and you’re good to go!

Lace Front Dress Hack >>

I hope you found this tutorial a – coherent, and b – useful!  I love my lace front Orla dresses, and I bet you guys will too.  If you make a lace up Orla, I totally want to see!  Tag me on Instagram with #maddiemadethis or @maddiemadethis, or shoot me an email.  I love seeing what you guys are inspired to make from my blog!  And DON’T forget to enter your own Orla into An Orla Affair!  All you have to do is upload your own Orla to Instagram and use the hashtags #theorladress and #AnOrlaAffair and you could win one of seven awesome prizes.  See the full rules here.

Lace Front Dress Hack >>


  1. You ladies are killing it at the Orla game. So many ways to take a free pattern and turn it into so many different dresses!

    1. Thanks Lara! It’s such a versatile block – I can’t believe some of the stuff the other girls came up with!

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