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The Orla Dress by French Navy.



I’ve been sitting on this pattern for quite a while now. I downloaded it at the end of last year and promptly placed it on my #2017makenine list. The design is so pretty – a semi fitted bodice and a gathered skirt, with an invisible zip down the centre back seam. Cute.

Fairly straightforward to make, I would recommend this to an advanced beginner, the challenges being darts, gathers, setting in sleeves and an invisible zip.

Oh, did I mention that the pattern is FREE! Oh my word, it’s free, and very lovely. Do head on over to the French Navy website and grab it for yourselves here. Since the release of the Orla dress, Sarah has now designed another awesome dress, The Forsythe Dress, which looks equally amazing. Such talent!

The push that I needed to make it came in the form of an Instagram challenge. I love a good Instagram sewing challenge, I just can’t say no, and as this was on my list of things to make it was a no brainer!

The challenge was organised by Allie from, Maddie from, Rachel from and Anya from Working alongside Sarah from French Navy they have provided lots of help in how to fit and make your Orla, not to mention numerous ways to create something a little different with the pattern too, there are so many ways you can play around with this pattern and really end up with something special.

For me, I liked just how it was, although I did add pockets, you know me..I just can’t help it! I simply used a pocket template ( I happened to use the pocket from my last make which was the Colette Peony), which is a simple in-seam pocket, and this was easy to apply in the usual way. Slight problem was that I placed the pockets where I thought they should be, turns out when the skirt was attached to the bodice the pockets were placed way too low. Sadly me and the seam ripper had a good old time unpicking them and repositioning them higher up the side seams. Although this was frustrating, I am super happy with their position now and it was well worth the time spent to get them just right!


I should mention the fabric that I used. It’s a beautiful floral print with pink flowers on a pistachio green background. I purchased it from Adam Ross back in March on a sewing meet up in Birmingham. You can check out the fabric here. It has a silky feel to it, and also has a medium weight with a beautiful drape. It is described in the selvedge wording as 100% rayon twill.

The neckline is finished with a bias strip. I used some pink floral bias tape that I had made some time ago, which gives a pretty contrast – not that you can see it when you wear it, but I know it’s there – alternatively you can just cut a bias strip from your dress fabric and use that. If you would like to see a tutorial on how I make my continuous bias tape you can click here.



I kept the sleeve nice and simple, just as the pattern. I really would have liked to have made a more gathered ‘poofy’ short sleeve with a little cuff, but simply ran out of time. I can definitely see me making this type of sleeve for another version when I have time to draft it.

At the back there is an invisible zip fastening. I also think an exposed metal teeth zip would look amazing on this dress – so again, next time maybe.

The zip is pretty invisible which I am super chuffed with, although I am clearly not concerned with my pattern matching at the back. Oh dear.. I can live with that though!


I am really pleased with how it turned out, and I will definitely make more. I love the design, and is the perfect summer dress. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in a slightly more Autumn/Winter appropriate fabric in the colder months too. Super cute with thick tights, boots and a cardigan.

Thanks again to Sarah at French Navy for generously providing this free pattern to all, if you would like more Orla inspiration simply search #theorladress or #anorlaaffair on Instagram – you won’t be disappointed.

Have you made an Orla? What did you think?

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x


10 thoughts on “The Orla Dress by French Navy.

  1. Such a gorgeous print! The Orla really suits you Kathy! X

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! I really like the style – it’s right up my street! xx

  2. Kathy
    I love this dress especially the fabric, it looks so comfortable.

    1. Thank you Julia, it is lovely and comfortable! xx

  3. Beautiful Kathy!!!! Love that fabric such a gorgeous print!! xxxx

    1. Thank you Amanda, I have been saving it for just the right dress! xx

  4. Hi Kathy,really love how this dress turned out for you! i have a fairly thick but soft jaquard with bit of sideways on mechanical stretch- you think it be suitable for this dress? still cannot believe its a free pattern! btw massive congrats on dressmaker of the year- much deserved xx

    1. Hi, thank you for such a lovely comment! So kind of you x regarding your fabric – it’s difficult to advise without seeing it – I would advise you to jump onto Instagram and search for #theorladress or #anorlaaffair to see if similar fabric types have been used and how they turned out. Hope this helps xx

  5. The dress is beautiful. Great job. Did you lower the waist line? I am worried that it will sit too high above my natural waist line and was wondering how I would lengthen the waist with out too much work on the darts. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Thank you Stacey. I don’t recall changing the waist line on my dress. If I had, I feel sure I would have mentioned it in my review. I’m only 5’2″ by the way. So you could make a toile/muslin of the dress if you are really concerned, otherwise if you feel you should go straight for a waist lengthening I would choose a point between the bust darts and the waist and draw a line across the pattern at this point and then cut and lengthen by however much you think you need. Lengthening at this point should avoid any interference with the bust darts. Hope this makes sense and good luck! x

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