Tropical Orla Dress with a Boatneck and Buttons
We're a little over halfway through an Orla Affair and I have seriously been blown away with all of the beautiful things you guys have been sewing up with this free dress pattern.
(If you aren't familiar with an Orla Affair, here's where you can find out all the details about the contest.)
Today I'll be showing you how I hacked this pattern to include a boatneck, buttons at the back, and a v-neck. I'll also be talking a little bit about my inspiration behind the dress and the fabric I used to get this look (which, spoiler alert, can be won by entering an Orla Affair!!)
For this dress, I used the FREE Orla Dress Pattern by French Navy. As usual, I've sewn a XS and graded to a S at the hips. However, any fitted bodice pattern you love will work for this tutorial. The Orla dress is a fan-favourite for small busted ladies, but if you're needing a bigger size or multiple cup sizes the Upton Dress by Cashemerette would be a great starting place for these hacks.
The fabric for this dress was sent to me by one of our contest sponsors, Hawthorne Threads.
I knew that Hawthorne Threads carried a variety of designer printed fabrics, specializing in quilting cottons, but I was surprised to learn that they also print a whole bunch of fabric collections in-house for more custom options.
How neat is that?
I picked one of their quilting cottons for this dress so that I could help show that with the right pattern, quilting cotton can be a great choice for apparel projects. If you're a beginner apparel seamstress, sewing your first few projects with quilting cotton is a great way to get the hang of your machine without worrying about a drapey, slippery fabric. It also makes for an easy-sew for more experienced seamstresses. Just make sure you choose a pattern that doesn't require a lot of drape.
But, if quilting cotton is not your jam Hawthorne Threads also offers poplin, linen-cotton canvas, and have rayon (my favourite!) coming soon.
I was immediately drawn to this banana-leaf print from their Botany collection, since tropical prints have been so trendy this summer. It seemed like the perfect statement print for this summer dress. When I got the yardage I was excited to see a large, white-border running along every corner of the yardage. I loved the contrast of the white edge on the busy print, so I made a note to include it in the design.
While coming up with my hack idea for this fabric, a few things were on my mind:
- Choosing a silhouette that would work well with the crisper nature of quilting cotton.
- Coming up with a design that would air on the side of more professional and put together. I wanted this dress to be a summer go-to, not just restricted to the beach because of it's wild print.
- Finding a way to incorporate that wonderful white border to add some pop.
In the end, I decided to go with a boatneck front with a slight v-neck back with buttons instead of a zipper. Stay tuned until the end of the post for links to illustrated tutorials on all of these modifications.
Here's how I decided on this look:
Boatnecks are one of the most flattering necklines on my smaller bust and really help to emphasize my waist, so that's a win for looking more put together. In addition, the crisper fabric would help the boatneck hold it's shape perfectly, so another win there.
I kept the original skirt of the pattern to allow me to use the selvedge edge of the fabric to help break up the bold print. I chose buttons over a zipper for similar reasons, and I thought these wood-look hand-me-downs would match the natural vibe of this dress perfectly.
And finally, I added the v-neck at the back to help bring balance to the boatneck. I find that sometimes (just sometimes) a higher neckline like a boatneck can look a little drab if it's not balanced with some skin shown elsewhere. Since I knew I wanted this skirt to hit my knees exactly, I decided the best place to show a little skin would be my back.
I also drafted an all-in-one facing and made the dress sleeveless using Anya's tutorials, to make finishing easy and summertime breezy (Couldn't resist a corny rhyme).
I'm not one to fuss over finishing the insides of a garment in a particularly nice way, but for this dress I went all-out on the insides. Usually I just serge everything and call it a day, but here every seam is enclosed with crisp, white-bias tape to compliment the green print.
And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I might like the insides of this dress more than the outsides.
There's something about a pretty all-in-one-facing trimmed with bias tape that makes my heart beat a little faster - anyone else?
From a fitting perspective, I tried removing an extra centimetre from the center front to help sort out some gaping issues I have as result of my statistically abnormal (searching for a more body-positive way of saying weird) bust/high bust ratio. The fit here is much closer without compromising the armholes, so I'm happy. I'll report back if this is a modification I continue to do on other makes.
Instructions for Making your Own
Want to find the other tutorials involve with hacking this dress?
- This post has a tutorial for turning the front neckline into a boatneck.
- This post has a tutorial for adding the v-neck to the back
- This post has a tutorial for swapping the zipper for a button-up back.
I hope this post has given you some inspiration on ways you can get creative with the Orla dress pattern this month. Remember, if you make your own version and share in on Instagram during July of 2017, you could be entered to win a whole bunch of incredible sewing prizes. Full rules are avaliable right here.
Thank you again to Hawthorne Threads for sending me this fabric. They're one of our awesome Orla Affair sponsors and it's been a pleasure trying their prints for the first time - I know whoever wins their portion of the giveaway will love them too!