The Orla Dress

I love a challenge, and coming from a background of using tough as old boots coutil in my corsetry days and more recently sewing my way through a shed load of jersey projects, working with something so deliciously drapey as this latest find from Like Sew Amazing was quite a departure for me. I was smitten with the pattern of their hibiscus viscose (say that out loud, its fun!) and with the lovely warm weather we’ve been having it was crying out to be made into a floaty, flirty little dress. With my limited experience with something so light-weight I decided to keep it simple and make a version of the Orla dress. A free PDF from French Navy patterns with a straightforward shape and construction.


I changed it up a little adding slightly more shape to the bodice whilst maintaining the loose fitting style. My sewing wife and I looked at the fit and decided to add a French dart and a broader dart at the waist seam to accommodate the bust but bring it back in a little for a less boxy feel. (As a side note, Isn’t it great having a sewing buddy to bounce ideas around with? What mine doesn’t know about fit isn’t worth knowing and we have so many happy sewing day together. Love you Sam!)

I quickly learnt a few things about sewing with lightweight viscose. Allow me to round up my findings for anyone out there about to attempt their first drapey project…

1. Get those edges through the overlocker as soon as you’ve cut your pattern pieces. These types of fabrics fray very quickly making it much harder to sew an accurate seam allowance. Overlocking prevents this and also gives more stability to sew precisely without your fabric moving around too much.

2. Check twice – sew once. If you need to unpick you will be left with marks in your fabric which anyone else is unlikely to notice but will annoy the hell out of you!

3. Use the correct machine needle for your fabric. I was baffled as to why my seams weren’t looking too good until I realised that I still had a ballpoint needle in there from my last jersey project. Doh!

4. Do what the pattern tells you instead of being lazy like I was and trying to finish the neck with bias binding instead of binding from the same fabric. It was too heavy and sits away from the body too much. Lesson learned.

5. If something goes wrong then take a leaf from Tim Gunn’s book and ‘make it work’. My waistline went a bit wonky after some issues with gathering before learning lesson number 1, so I used a bit of left over fabric to make a sash for the waist. A nice feature, and hides a multitude of sins.

6. If you don’t like putting in zips on the machine and will do anything to avoid them then get down to some hand sewing. I love working by hand and hand-pick all my zips. It was particularly useful in this project as it gave me a lot more control over the final result.


So there we have it! Don’t be scared of taking on something new or unfamiliar. Find yourself a floaty pattern and head to Like Sew Amazing to check out their great selection of fabrics.

One thought on “The Orla Dress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s