An Orla Affair - French Navy Orla Dress Review

I love an excuse to make a new dress. I wear dresses or skirts 90% of the time so they are truly my favorite thing to sew. I also love all things vintage or vintage inspired. The Orla Dress by Sarah of French Navy is a combination of these things. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wanted to sew it up as soon as I heard about the “sewalong” being hosted by some of my favorite bloggers: Allie, Rachel, Maddie, and Anya. The Orla dress is a classic fit and flare shape making it a very simple and versatile dress.

I cut a size large, and added a 1 ½ inch FBA. (You can see the tutorial I wrote on adding an FBA to the Orla dress here.) The Orla dress is designed to be slightly above the natural waist. Normally this would be fine, but I am short waisted with a bit of extra bust to deal with. If I had left the bodice length as drafted, it would have been more of an empire waistline, which is not the look I was going for! Using Allie’s version as inspiration, instead of adding length to the bodice pieces, I added a 2 ½ inch waistband. That extra bit made the bodice sit right where it needed to.

If you are familiar with the original dress, you will see that the skirt of my Orla is significantly different. There are two reasons for this: 1. I love twirly, ruffled skirts. 2. I am 5’ 9”. The original skirt pieces were much shorter than I would be comfortable wearing, and I thought it was easier to completely change the skirt rather than modifying the original.

To make the skirt, I cut three tiers. The first is a half circle skirt that is 8-9 inches long. It has a few gathers where it attaches to the waistband, but it reduces the bulk right around my hips. The next two tiers are loooooong rectangles. The middle one is about 10 inches wide, while the bottom one is about 12. Each tier is about twice the length of the one above it. To gather all that fabric, I did a zig-zag stitch over top of some scrap yarn. It worked very well and I didn’t have any issues with snapping threads. Plus, it made it easier to get even gathers.

I love the Orla dress bodice. It is simple and a piece of cake to sew up. That being said, there are a couple of things I would change for next time. Since the bodice is a little short on me, the darts came up way too high. They are a bit pointy, but not so noticeably that I need to change anything for this version. In the future I would drop the endpoints a good inch or two. The other slight adjustment I would make would be to raise the armhole. I would have loved to keep the short sleeves on this dress, but when I sewed them in and tried on the dress, they were too restricting to my arm movement. I think raising the armhole would significantly help that problem. As is, I do like the ruffle around the armhole. I think it looks super cute!

When I realized that I didn’t have a long enough zipper in my stash, I decided it would be a cute detail to add a button and button loop at the top of the back neck. It was a very simple change, and I think it worked out perfectly. Recently, I have been enjoying adding extra little details like this to my projects. I think it changes a regular, everyday garment into something special.

Thank you ladies for hosting such a fun sewalong! It has been absolutely amazing!