You know those folks that stand with clipboards on the street trying to ask you questions and get you to sign up to direct debits? We call them Chuggers in the UK i.e charity muggers. Do you also do an amazing dance as you try to get away from them? For a long time I’d claim I was only 17 so they couldn’t ask me any questions or ask me for money. I kind of had to stop doing that once my wrinkles became a bit too obvious.
Anyway one day when I was a student I was too hungover to think of a decent excuse (I was a student therefore being hungover was pretty standard). She beckoned me into a darkened room and what followed was the best hangover cure ever. I was given umpteen chocolate bars to taste and give my verdict. And if that wasn’t enough I was then given a goodie bag of chocolate to take home with me.
From that day forth I’ve been far more open to strange people beckoning me in. Being open to new experiences is where fun adventures begin.
And so onto the Orla dress. French Navy is the one doing the beckoning in this scenario. She’s wafted a free sewing pattern our way. It’s inordinately simple but lends itself well to whatever kind of personalisation you fancy. Here is my toile version made from some rather lovely 1980s bedsheets.
The few blogs I read in advance suggested doing a toile of the bodice (and the lovely Pigeonwishes on Instagram) and I’m really glad I did. I ended up having to up size a cm on each side, move the dart 1cm along (and really should have reduced the length of the dart by 1 inch). Then I did a substantial narrow shoulder adjustment 1.5 inches). This has left me with a really nice fitting bodice. The skirt is then just a gathered skirt though I also lengthened this substantially (about 10cm) as I have horrible varicose veins and all summer dresses need to be knee length on me.
Next I added inseam pockets.
Next I added a fake button placket on the front. I went the whole hog though and did button holes on it to make it look authentic. A proper button opening would look fab but I just couldn’t be bothered 😀.
Finally I did an exposed zip on the back. I was all smug because I’d picked up some ace metal zips in a charity shop for 29p and fitted a royal blue one. Except first time I unzipped it was to try on the dress and the bloody thing came undone in my hands. I could have cried!!
Thankfully I had the sense to stop doing anything and just to try and sleep on it. The next morning I actually got it zipped up again except following that I couldn’t unzip it. That was the final straw and meant I had to give in and unpick it. A few swear words later and I added this lilac exposed zip. It’s not as big and as obvious as I had hoped but it’s still a great colour combo with the fabric.
So this is just a simple simple dress that lends itself well to light summer fabrics. French Navy has published a load of hacks on her blog including adding pockets and making it sleeveless. Irritatingly I’d already done my adjustments when I saw these tutorials but thankfully my methods weren’t wildly different.
The ultimate test for me on a dress is how versatile it is for my life. I have 2 small children, a dog, live in the country and cycle to work and then work in an office where occasionally we have clients and partners come for meetings so have to look semi professional. This dress meets all my requirements as proven by this shot of me cycling to work after dropping off the kids at nursery (admitedly in leggings so I don’t flash my undercrackers to the motorists).