Orla Dress Pattern Hack 1

So we’re back from our holiday to Majorca and we had such a fab time! Beautiful weather and our own pool and spacious villa in which to enjoy it! The girls loved the pool and because of the hot weather Ivy was sleeping a good 2-3 hours in the middle of the day while the older 2 chilled out!! Amazing relaxation time built in 🙂

Prior to this holiday my summer wardrobe was a little bare – for the past 6 years I have either been breastfeeding or pregnant over the summer months… not ideal for little summer dresses! I was so up for making everything I could possibly need for a week in the sun, however as I alluded to in my previous post, my ‘speedy’ sewing was a little slapdash and no matter how hard I tried it became clear that I would not be able to make anything like the amount I was wanting to! In the end I managed to get three dresses done and a few alterations on previous (well loved) maternity / nursing clothes. Not too bad.

A sneak peak at all three dresses!

A sneak peak at all three dresses!

Today I’m going to share the first of my makes with you – my Orla dress hack. Some of you will have already seen this as I posted it on Instagram a while back. I made my first Orla top by Tilly and the Buttons back in February, and I loved how flattering it was to wear. I mentioned at the time that I wanted to make it as a dress and I eventually settled on using this gorgeous fabric.

Orla dress - Tilly and the Buttons

The fabric is a John Kaldor polyester which I got from Barry’s in Birmingham. I loved the colours and got 1.5 metres with the intention of making a top. After much pondering I couldn’t decide on a top pattern that I liked except for a simple cami – but I had too much material for that and I wanted to make the most of it! I decided to see if I could squeeze an dress out of it and it turned out that I had plenty. Yay!

There is this tutorial over at Tilly and the Buttons which demonstrates how to make the top into a dress whilst preserving the gentle curved hem from the pattern. However, I decided to go for a straight hem on this dress. Another time I would definitely opt for the curved hem though and maybe exagerate the high-low hem line.

I cut out a size 3 and graded to a size 4 at the waist like I had done previously, however I decided to make a few design tweaks this time round. Firstly I left off the sleeves to make it more summery. The other change I made was to omit the exposed zip at the back. I really like the design feature on my top but when I saw this version made by Winnie over at Scruffy Badger Time where she had included a keyhole closure instead, I knew I wanted to copy it!



Orla dress - back view

As I had decided to omit the sleeves I knew ideally I wanted to do an all-in-one facing that would enclose all my raw edges for the neckline, armhole and keyhole opening. This is where my lack of sewing experience comes into play – having no pattern in my repertoire to help me I had no idea how to do this! Eventually I found this tutorial over on ‘Crafterhours’ which was great and seemed to be exactly what I needed. I drafted a facing for the front by simply tracing over the front pattern piece and extending it down to a few inches below the armscythe. The back was slightly complicated by the presence of neck darts and back darts – but again I traced the pattern straight extending down to the same point below the armscythe. (Any experienced sewists out there got any suggestions of how I could improve on this?!)

Facings - Orla Dress

Note how the front facing sits flat but the back flares as I didn’t curve up above the back darts. It doesn’t notice when worn – but another time I would definitely rectify this.

Next came the keyhole opening. Again I was working blind having never done this before – but if anyone else wants to have a go, this is what I did….

I decided to interface the opening to help keep it’s shape. I ended up drawing the keyhole shape directly onto the interfacing before ironing it onto my facing. When attaching my facing to the neckline, right sides together, I then sewed around this line. Once completed, using this stitching line as my guide, I cut out my keyhole before turning it right side out. Thankfully it worked perfectly – which is just as well really as I was trialling this straight on my lovely fabric! Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any pictures as I went but this is how it looks when I flip the facing inside out on the finished dress.

The top points would be nearly touching but the button and loop prevent it being turned back through completely.

The top points would be nearly touching but the button and loop prevent it being turned back through completely.

The finished result is great and I have worn it a few times already. I was a bit worried that I had gone too short on the length, but I have actually really enjoyed wearing it and not felt too exposed. It’s been a long time since I wore anything this short!

Orla Dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Thank you to my husband who took these pics on holiday on our 9th wedding anniversary. Amusingly we didn’t actually take any photos of the two of us together… blog dedication right there! We had a lovely evening out celebrating whilst my lovely in-laws babysat the kids.

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One thought on “Orla Dress Pattern Hack

  • Lynsey

    Your dress is gorgeous, you look great in it. I’m very tempted to buy this pattern now. I’m not keen on exposed zippers, the keyhole looks much better, your fabric hangs lovely, great choice. Happy anniversary too