Orla Dress by French Navy

Friday, May 5, 2023

As a Ruby Star Maker, I recently received fabric from the new Verbena line by Jen Hewett for Ruby Star Society, which I decided to make into an Orla dress by French Navy (free pattern!).

(See more photos at the end of the post.)

Size / View:

XS at the neck graded to S at the bust graded to M at the waist.

For reference, my measurements are:
  • Bust: 34.5"
  • High Bust: 32.5"
  • Waist: 29"
  • Hip: 37.5"
  • Height: 5' 0"


Ruby Star Society fabric from the Verbena line by Jen Hewett.

Adjustments / Construction:

  • Instead of doing a bodice muslin straight away, I tried to make adjustments based off my traced pattern, then made a muslin. This didn't actually work as well as I thought, and I ended up doing 2 bodice muslins with incremental adjustments and several re-traced patterns after adjustments (5 versions in all). So next time, I'd probably start with a muslin right off the bat like I have in the past.
  • After all the adjustments I tried, I ended up keeping the same darts as before, except on the front darts, lowering the point by 1-5/8".
  • Since the instructions were not illustrated step-by-step, I went looking for a sew-along to help me visually follow each step, and found this YouTube video helpful: How to Sew a Zipper Back Dress (using French Navy - Orla dress)
  • I wanted to take off the sleeves, but I didn't want to necessarily end up with a sleeveless dress, so I landed on a ruffle sleeve and found this free ruffle sleeve hack and pattern: Gaïa – Ruffled shoulders.
  • I also researched hacks that others made to the Orla dress, and referenced this blog post to remove the sleeves from the pattern: Another Sleeveless Orla - Drafting Tutorial.
  • Shortened straps 0.75", and also lowered the bottom of the arm hole by 0.75" as well to keep the size of the arm hole the same.
  • Took out 0.25" from the center back at the neckline (basically cut away a wedge).
  • Used S for the gathered skirt pieces and shortened 2" since the pattern was drafted for a height of 5' 7".
  • Added in-seam pockets anchored at the waist, and followed a tutorial from Megan Nielsen Patterns (Olive Sewalong // Pockets and Skirt) using a pocket pattern from Cashmerette (Pocket Time! Add Pockets to the Cashmerette Turner Dress).


  • Semi-fitted bodice (after I got the right dart adjustments figured out, to the best of my knowledge).
  • I could see this being one of those tried-and-true basic dresses that is very hackable.

Next Time:

  • Take out 0.25" from the center front at the neckline.
  • Try a rayon, which has more drape than cotton.
  • Add more ease to the arm hole in the back. It's a little tight, though still wearable. Possibly a softer fabric (like rayon) would help with this too.