Orla dress is a style that I designed quite a while ago and it proved such a classic style, I decided it just had to join the Sewgirl collection.
So let me describe this dress, so as well as being insanely stylish, it is also a very easy relaxed dress to wear. Its trapeze shape allows you lots of movement, so you can eat what you like without feeling constricted. With two side pockets (who doesnt love a sidey) and a choice of two dress lengths and two sleeve lengths, the Option A has a buttoned placket detail at the neckline, edged with bias binding to give it a retro feel or Option B has an alternative simple neck facing.
Both options have a back neck opening. Option A has a hand chain stitch loop, and Option B version you can use the rouleau loop method.
This is an easy pattern to make up, however, the placket detail is probably a little more tricky, so if you have had some experience attaching bias binding you should be ok.
I would say this dress really suits bold prints but it also looks great in plain linens or viscose/linen mixes or the blue and white one (with red trim below) is a voile that I bought from slubbedprints.co.uk who have a wonderful collection of hand block print cotton fabrics from India. You can really play around with matching up one of the colours in your print or using a complete contrast colour binding as I have done here.
Some other versions of Orla that Ive made in bold prints.
Here are details about fabric requirements, size info and finished garment details.
So you will also need some equipment like a loop turner or a large eye blunt ended needle, tacking thread and needle, an iron, a good pair of dressmaking scissors and a stitch ripper for any back tracking you may need to make!
HOW TO MAKE ORLA
Here are some pictures and text to give you an idea about how this dress is made before you buy.
CUTTING TIP FOR FABRICS 112cm WIDE SIZES 20 & 22
Just one tip before you start cutting out your fabric pieces on a narrower width fabric, if you are cutting out sizes 20+ you may not have the width at the lower edge, my advise would be to add a square of fabric extension on the lower selvedge edge to compensate.
The Front and Back are joined at the shoulder seams and topstitched.
The pattern gives you lots more details about how to do the binding.
So with Option B you don’t insert a placket or use bias binding around the neckline like you do with Version A. I thought that some people would like to try it without the binding, so here are a few illustrations to give you an idea about how its done.
Woohoo! Here it is! A fab pair of loose fitting dungarees, inspired by one of my all time heros… Doris Day! Here she is, what a woman!
These dungarees are designed to feel comfortable as well as stylish. Make them in denim will give them a practical utility look or linen for being a little more on the classy side. Wear them with pumps, sandals, flip flops, clogs or boots and a crisp plain or stripy tee underneath or maybe even a pretty floral top (Peggy) underneath also looks fab.
I have a growing collection of suitable fabrics on my Etsy shop such as 8oz denim and linen in lots of gorgeous colours, so take a peek, you might be tempted.
There is also a kit available, containing the pattern, choice of linen or denim fabric, interfacing, buttons and thread all packed up in a lovely kraft bag.
So this skirt was inspired by a one I made for myself that I literally wore out, I loved wearing it so much. It’s my go to skirt for knocking about everyday, working in, going out on my bike, walks, you name it.
And those pockets are just SO practical!
Martha Skirt is a great denim project or, as you can see from the pictures, perfect when using a dynamic printed cotton teamed up with a plain fabric for the band and pockets. This print is an african Wax print which (for those that know me) I’m a big fan of.
I find such pleasure choosing the colour to match the print. In my books, this is one of the things that makes sewing such fun. You are going to have a unique garment that you have created for yourself! What’s not to love!
So, if you have chosen to use two different fabrics, make sure to use similar weights, but if you. like me, want to use something a bit heavier for the band (i.e. 8oz denim) then just balance out the main fabric with some lightweight lining fabric like a cotton voile or maybe even some woven fusible interfacing. I just cut out another upper Front & Back skirt piece only, pin to the reverse side of the three pieces, stitch together all around at the sides, then continue as if its one piece of fabric.
Here is the info you need about sizing, finished garment measurements and fabric requirements….
You also need an 18cm (7″) zip and 20cm of medium/lightweight interfacing and a reel of thread.
Equipment: A zip foot machine attachment, poking tool. I like to use a tailors ham too but its not essential.
SEAM ALLOWANCE IS 1.5cm
So, kicking off, Martha Skirt has two darts on the Back piece top edge.
ALL ABOUT THE ZIP
Martha has a zip inserted into the back seam, so you will need to pop your zip foot on your machine. If you don’t have a zip foot you can always hand sew a zip into the back seam.
The pattern gives instructions about how to insert a ‘centred’ zip into the back seam, which I think is the simplest zip insertion of all, but you might prefer to use a ‘lapped’ zip technique or better still a concealed zip.
I have a separate blogpost called ‘How to insert a concealed zip’ which will show you how to do one, using just a standard zip foot attachment.
Inserting zips is not difficult when you know how. Once mastered your (sewing) life will be transformed and hopefully (like me) it will be the bit you look forward to the most (not kidding honest!).
So, if you have chosen to add a lower band for the longer length version, either in contrast fabric or main fabric, you will need to first hem the Lower back band pieces at the side edges.
For the Short Skirt version continue to the Pocket section.
Fold the facing to the reverse side, pushing out the corners at the top of the zip.
Pin the facing to secure it on the reverse side. Stitch the facing all around, close to the outer edge. Press.
Finally a bit of hemming on the lower edge of the skirt and bobs your uncle! There you have it!
All images are copyrighted by Fiona Hesford – Sewgirl.
Please do not copy or use any images without prior permission.
I’m afraid, due to the current pandemic, the Sewgirl workshop programme has been suspended until further notice. However, I am a regular presenter on the Sewing street TV channel where I show demonstrations of my patterns. If you follow me on social media, you will be updated about upcoming show dates.
Sewgirl hat patterns are available either as a PDF digital downloads or as a paper pattern (link above to my Etsy shop). All hats can be made in sizes small, medium or large. To measure around your head , extend a tape measure around your forehead and above your ears.
measure your head for size: SMALL= 55cm, MEDIUM = 57cm, LARGE = 59cm
Suitable for sewists with some previous experience
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED: tailor’s ham, pinking shears, pins / quilter’s clips, stitch ripper and a poking tool. Insert a walking foot attachment on your machine if you have one, which will make it easier to sew.
So this ‘Chelsea’ baker boy style hat is similar to the BromptonHat and possibly a more classic style, with its segmented crown, side band and peak. This is an enjoyable project, quick to make, I wouldn’t say any hat project was a beginners project, it can be a tad tricky with bulky seams when inserting the peak, which is why I recommend a walking foot attachment (if you have one), but why not have a go! Its so satisfying and once you get the hang of it, you will want to make one for all your friends and family.
The main difference between the two hats is the Crown. The Chelsea Hat Crown is made in segments like a chocolate orange. (yummy!). Suitable fabrics you could consider: Tweeds, corduroy, cotton, denim so its a hat for all seasons.
Please note that the pattern includes one 29mm self cover button, if you need any more for making a hat for friends and family, you I have some available in the haberdashery listing on my shop as well as fusible interfacing by the metre.
The Crown pieces, when they are cut look like this. There are 6 of them in outer fabric and 6 in lining fabric and they are interfaced either with medium fusible interfacing or fusible fleece wadding (Vlieseline H640) for warmth or just some batting with something like a spray textile glue or bondaweb to fuse the interfacing to the outer fabric pieces. You also need the Band piece and the Peak pieces.
The crown pieces are assembled like this….
Repeat with another three crown sections.
So after you have the Crown outer and lining, you make the Peak and the Band in the same way as with the Brompton Hat. So scroll up to see this bit.
Pin the Crown lining to the outer Crown/Band/Peak piece.
Make the stalk. Fold over and stitch down the side edges and across the top, leaving the lower edge open. Turn inside out. Press.
Sidebands- one is interfaced the other isn’t. Sew together at the short side edges with the right sides together to make two rings. Press the seams open then topstitch either side, trim down any excess seam allowance.
Make the Crown in two sections of four Crown pieces sewn together at the curved side edges. press the seam allowances open. Topstitch either side of the seam line.
Before joining the two half sections of the crown, pin (or clip) the stalk to the centre top edge of one Crown piece. Machine or hand tack to secure.
Place one crown inside the other with the right sides together. Sew around the outer curved edge. Press the seam open. Topstitch.
Now pin the Sideband to the Crown at the raw outer edges with the right sides facing together. Sew all around.
Press the Sideband away from the Crown with the seam allowance extended towards the Crown on the reverse side. Topstitch.
LINING -Sew together the four pieces for the lining leaving an opening on one seam for turning. Attach the second un-interfaced Sideband in the same way as the Crown Outer piece.
Pin the Crown and Lining pieces together with the right sides aligned and pin all around at the band raw edges. Sew all around.
Trim the seam allowance.
Push the hat through the lining opening and press, pushing out all the edges from the inside.
Pin the band all around. Topstitch close to the outer edge all around and ‘stitch in the ditch’ all around the band seam line, this creates the channel to feed through the elastic.
Insert a length of elastic through a stitch ripped opening in the band inside seam. Adjust to fit. You need it so that it’s not too tight, so that when the hat is on the head, the band sits flat all around. Finally sew up the hole.
So here we are at last…..a long awaited top!!! Yaaay!
This one is so chic and versatile too, you can dress it up or wear in a relaxed weekend sort of way. I’ve made the short version in a cool cotton voile and the long sleeved version in a snuggly cotton/linen denim look twill which is lovely and soft. Both these fabrics (and Peggy top pattern) are normally stocked on my ETSY SHOP subject to availability.
Peggy top can be made in two different sleeve lengths, long or short. You can either just hem the sleeve edge, as shown in the above left picture or add an elasticated channel as shown in the right hand picture to make a lovely subtle puff sleeve effect. It also has a nice side slit opening, so its very comfortable to wear.
The top pattern kit looks like this and comes with fabric, pattern templates, instructions, a piece of elastic, interfacing and a self cover button all packed up in a recycled kraft bag with handles. Yummy!
So let me talk you through this easy to make top. Well, its round necked, boxy shape with bust darts and a rather nice back neck loop and button opening (see below).
Peggy top is suitable for adventurous beginners, so maybe you’ve cut your teeth on cushions and bag projects and would like to try some simple dressmaking, well this would be a perfect starter pattern as its really quite a straightforward make. Why not take a look at this condensed tutorial blogpost and it will give you an idea about whats involved.
Here are some measurements for you to check over. The pattern is good for sizes 8-20 by the way. If you need to make adjustments to the pattern, check out the tutorials such as Adjusting a Bust dart.
Seam allowance is 1cm (3/8″), however if you prefer to use a 1.5cm (5/8″), then just add 5mm to the outer edges (except for those which are ‘Place on fold’).
Finish raw edges with a zigzag stitch or an overlocker.
You may like to use a contrast colour thread for the topstitching, as I did with the long top to get that ‘jeans’ stitch detail. You don’t need a special topstitch thread in particular, just a colour that will show up).
CUTTING GUIDE – are all shown in the instructions booklet.
HOW TO MAKE PEGGY TOP
On the pattern you can see lots of lines for each Dart size. Each size has two lines: one (outer line) is the ‘cutting’ line and one (inner line) which is the ‘stitch’ line. See the diagram below, Ive marked size 8 Dart lines in yellow (cutting line) and pink (stitch line), to show you more clearly. Its a good idea to mark the required two lines as I have done on your pattern to make them easier to see.Fold the dart so that the RST(right sides together) and the dart raw edges are aligned. Mark your stitch line using a ruler and pencil which runs 1cm parallel to the cutting line.
Finish the raw edges of the centre back. Sew the back pieces together with the right sides together, leaving the top section unstitched. Press.
SHORT ELASTICATED SLEEVES (For long sleeves scroll down to the next section….)
LONG ELASTICATED SLEEVES
Self cover buttons… (who doesn’t love a covered button? )
Here she is! A long time coming, but we finally got there. The very fabulous Betty dress pattern… ta dah!
So what can I say about Betty…. well, she is very easy to make, oh so comfortable to wear and well, just lovely really. She’s V-neck, button down (more about that later) with a gathered skirt section on to quite a loose fitting slightly dropped waistline, a curved detail on the side hem is a bit like a shirt style, rolled back sleeves and two patch pockets. The tie belt is optional of course, below shows you a photo of one I wear with a rather smart leather belt (link to where you can buy one at the end of this post.
Now lets talk about buttonholes. There are some people who may be put off by them or don’t want to be bothered with these small but ever so terrifying things, but fear not! Betty can be made without them quite easily. You can pop Betty on with just stitched on buttons. Do you see the blue version below? well that’s exactly what I did with this one, I wanted to live with it first before committing to them, but I’m not sure I will ever get around to doing them but hey whose going to notice!
Or, my friends, you may like to make a Betty Hack ! Its Oh so easy and I think I love this version even more than the button down version.
So this hack is even easier to make, Its got no buttons on the skirt, just on the bodice and Ive shortened it a bit too by taking 2cm off the bodice lower edge and 2cm off the top edge of the skirt. Ive popped a little tutorial at the bottom of this post so just scroll down and you will find it.
So Betty is great in all sorts of patterned and plain medium weight cotton fabrics, linen and linen mix fabrics and soft lightweight denims all of which I have in stock on my Etsy shop.
Here’s the very lovely Amy Scarr, ex-editor of Love Sewing magazine, in her printed cotton lawn versions of Betty dress, which look just great. You can follow her sewing adventures on Instagram @almondrock_sews or almondrock.co.uk.
Here is all the info about sizes, finished measurements and fabric requirements.
SEWING A BETTY DRESS
Seam allowance is 1cm. RST= Right Sides Together.
Before you start here are some pattern cutting tips.
Making adjustments to Betty
You may want to make the bodice or skirt section shorter or longer.
So, if this is the case, firstly, measure for your size according to the pattern size info (shown above). Then you need to measure yourself for the desired bodice length from top of the shoulder to the desired length. Now add on 2cm to this measurement for the seam allowances. Next, compare this length to the pattern and you may find that you require a shorter/longer length from one of the other sizes. I prefer to fold back my pattern to the desired line to keep it intact, but if you are drafting your pattern, you just trace the required line.
If you adjust the bodice length, remember its going to make the dress shorter or longer so check that measurement is good and you are happy with the adjustment. If you need to make the skirt section shorter or longer do so at the top edge of the skirt section. Its gathered at the top edge so any extra width will be lost in the gathering.
Finally adjust the button positions accordingly.
HOW TO MAKE BETTY DRESS
JOINING THE SHOULDERS
Joining the shoulder seams. Finish the raw edges, pressing towards the back. Topstitching.
Sew the front to back at the side edges with the RST. Finish the raw edges.
Sew the skirt together at the side edges with the RST. Press.
Gather up the fabric at the top edge of the skirt section.
Attach to the bodice with the RST. Press the seam allowance upwards. Topstitch on the bodice side.
FACINGSJoin the facings front and back at the short edges with the RST. Press open. Finish the outer edge.Pin to the centre front and back neck edge. Sew. Press the facing away from the body. Understitch.
Fold back the facing at the centre lower edge with the RST. Stitch across 1cm up from the lower edge. Trim across the corner, then turn inside out, pushing out the corners with a poking tool.
Press the facing to the reverse side all around. Pin. Hand tack. Top stitch on the reverse side close to the outer edge to secure the facing.
Make your pockets by hemming the top edge and finishing the outer 3 edges. Press over 1cm at these 3 edges.
Pin to the body. Hand tack stitch. Topstitch close to the edge.
Fold over a 4cm hem at the sleeve edge. Press. Pin. Stitch.
Fold back 2cm. Press. Secure with a few hand stitches at the underarm cross seam to secure if required.
Make your buttonholes, use the position on the template as a guide.
Make your 3 tabs by pressing inwards 1cm each long side, then fold in half. Press, stitch down each long side. Fold up 1cm each short end. Pin to the dress at the sides and centre back. Stitch across the top and lower edge to secure.
Join the belt pieces together at the short sides with the RST. Press the seam allowances open.
Fold in half so the long edges are matching with the RST. Press. Stitch down one long raw side and across the short diagonal sides, leaving approx 4cm opening at the centre point for turning inside out. Trim the seam allowance to 5mm.
Turn inside out through the opening. These loop turner tools are really useful for this.
Press. Topstitch all around the outer edge, which seals up the opening at the same time. Tie in a lovely big bow and woo hoo…..ready to go!
To make the dress with no buttons on the skirt section is really easy. Just cut two back skirt pieces (on the fold) instead of the front piece, so you just have two back skirt pieces altogether.
To save on fabric, cut the Bodice Back as two pieces, so instead of normally placing the pattern against the fold, add a 1cm to the centre back edge and sew the Back pieces together. Finish the raw edge.
Shorten the facing piece to make it the same as the bodice in length. Follow the pattern as above, but gather the back and front together in one piece and attach to the bodice, making sure the front section is crossed over correctly beforehand. Here is a summary of how to do it.
If you are interested in buying a Betty dress pattern, here is a link to the Etsy shop listing. I’ve got lots of other patterns too which you may like to check out.
So here it is! …..drumroll please…….Cecily Skirt. Ta dah!
Not a day goes by, when I’m wearing this skirt, when people don’t say ‘Wow! where did you get that skirt! ‘ and I can smugly reply those immortal words…. ‘I made it myself!
What I love about this skirt, is how easy and quick it is to run up, and how comfortable it is to wear. With its elasticated back waistband, you can pretty much eat what you like, without the waistband feeling tight, (something I absolutely hate, being someone who loves their grub!).
So also, you will be delighted to hear, its got pockets! ….and two of em! There are also no zips, thanks to Mr Elastico. Having said that, the skirt isn’t bulky at the front because of its flattering front pleats or gathers if you are making with the blue ink spot fabric. Whats not to love?
Cecily skirt is quite long in length, with a maximum length of approx 75cm, but of course you could make it shorter. I love to wear mine with leggings or pedal pushers and a tee or a boxy top. If you fancy adding a belt and some tabs like this…. scroll down to the waistband section where it will tell you how its done.
Here is the Sewgirl African fabric kit all packed up in a fab recycled bag, but it can also be purchased as the pattern only, which includes instructions, interfacing and elastic for you to use your own fabric.
A piece of fusible interfacing (enough for the front waistband)
One French hair barrette
and if you have the complete kit with fabric it comes with 1.8m (2 yards) of fabulous genuine African Dutch wax fabric – lovely and soft, 100% cotton with really zingy colours. (Its 112cm wide by the way) and a separate piece of spotty cotton poplin for the pockets.
Im popping one in your kit in case you fancy making a matching hair accessory either like this, or the little one with a button.
You can find a tutorial for making one of these at the bottom of the page.
THE FINISHED SKIRT LENGTH IS:
HOW TO MAKE CECILY SKIRT
So you have 4 paper pattern pieces: Front & Back (1), Front Waistband (2), Back Waistband (3), Pocket (4).
You’ve ironed your fabric and folded it, so that the selvedges are aligned with the RST (Right Sides Together) and laid it out nicely on a table or floor. Pin the pieces as shown on the Layplans in the pattern.
You will need to cut:
Front & Back (template 1)– Cut two on the fold of the fabric.
Front Waistband (template 2)– Cut one *Iron fusible interfacing to the reverse side of the Front waistband only.
Back Waistband (template 3)– Cut one on the fold of the fabric.
Pocket (template 4)– Cut four (two pairs).
Optional tie belt tabs (x 2) : Cut two pieces 5cm x 8cm. Fold inwards 1cm towards the centre each long side. Press, then fold in half lengthways. You should have a folded piece measuring 1.5cm x 8cm. Stitch down each long side. Repeat for other tab. Place to one side.
Mark the pleat positions at the top edge with a marking pen or small nick within the seam allowance on the Front pieceonly. Now to the sewing bit (the best bit).
Remember the seam allowance is 1cm!
SEWING THE FRONT TO BACK & POCKETS. (For all skirts)
With the fabric right sides facing together, pin one pocket piece at each side edge of the Front and Back pieces in position as shown on the template. Sew down the straight vertical side edge.
2. Press the pocket away from the Front and Back piece. Topstitch on the pocket side.
3. On the Front piece ONLY, pin the pleats in the marked positions as shown on the template.
PLEAT-Fabric right side PLEAT- Fabric wrong side Skirt Front right side
4a. For an alternative to pleating- Gathering up the Front top edge instead. GATHERING (if you prefer instead of front pleats)
Instead of pleats, why not gather up the front piece. To do this, set your sew machine to the maximum stitch length (usually 4 or 5) and sew a line approx 1cm from the top edge. Its a good idea to finish your top raw edge first and remember you are only doing gathering on the front section, the back will be gathered by the elastic we are inserting later.
So after sewing your line of long stitches pull the top thread only to gather up or ‘ease’ as we call this technique in the trade. Its a bit like gathering up the top of curtains if ever you’ve had this wondrous experience! Gather up the fabric to the same width as the front waistband. You can go to the next stage and adjust your gathers later.
JOINING THE FRONT TO THE BACK (Both skirts)
4. With the RST, pin the Front piece to the Back piece at the side edges. Sew from the top of the side edge, all around the pocket to the lower edge. Repeat for the other side.
5. Finish the raw edges together. Press. Finish the top raw edge of the Front & Back all around.
WAISTBAND Here is a video link about doing the elastic bit
Now, take your elastic piece which has been cut in the length according to your size and pin the elastic to the side seams. Aligning the top of the elastic with the waistband centre fold and approx 1.5cm away from the lower raw edge, laying it across the back waistband. Sew along the side seam each side to secure the elastic.
9. Fold back the waistband piece. Pin along the lower edge. Machine tack stitch all around, as before, easing the fabric beyond the elastic as you go. Heres that video link again to show you how in case you missed it video about putting in the elastic
Optional tabs:at this stage you might like to add the belt tabs and make a tie belt. Instructions for making up the tab pieces is in the cutting guide. Place each tab unfolded short raw edge at the waistband raw edge at each side seam with the tab hanging downwards towards the skirt. Machine tack within the seam allowance to hold. Continue…
10. Pin the waistband to the skirt top edge. Sew. Tip: ease the gathers of the fabric past the (dropped down) needle as you go, so you are always sewing flat fabric.
11. Press the seam allowance downwards, topstitch on the skirt side all around to secure in place.
Optional tab: Fold up the tab piece that has been stitched into the waistband seam. Press over 1cm at the raw edge, pin at the top of the waistband edge, then topstitch it to secure.
Close up of tab at the top edge
12. Hem the raw lower edge of the Front & Back piece all around. Fold over and press a 2cm hem at the lower edge or length as required. Pin. Sew close to the edge. Press.
Pop it on and admire your handiwork!
MAKING AN OPTIONAL TIE BELT
Cut two pieces of fabric 10cm x 100cm. Join them together at the short edges with the RST. Press the seam allowance open. Fold the tie in half lengthways. Press. Pin. Sew down the two short edges and one long raw edge with a 1cm seam allowance but leave an opening at the centre join of around 4cm. Trim the seam allowance to 5mm and trim across the seam allowance corners. Turn the tie inside out through the opening, pushing out the corners with a poking tool. press so that the seam line is in line with the fold. Topstitch all around approx 3mm from the edge, thus closing up the opening. Feed through the tabs and Voila! Now who doesn’t love a bow tie!
MAKING A MATCHING HAIR RAG ACCESSORY
Using your French hair barrette as a base, cut (or tear) long thin strips of fabric approx 1cm wide. Cut the long strips into 10 pieces approx 10-12cm long.
Tie a strip of fabric on to the top metal bar on the barrette with one tight knot, leave a long end. Repeat with the other strips, pushing them up tightly, squashing them together as much as possible. Trim the fabric ends or leave as long as you like. Trim with pinking shears if you have a pair for added jagged edges. There you have it!
Or using a small barrette make a charming little rosette with a centre button to adorn your hair.
CECILY SKIRT KIT OR PATTERN ONLY IS NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY ON MY ETSY SHOP