Have you tried the Orla dress? The PDF pattern is free - designed and gifted to the sewing community by @frenchnavynow - how kind! I spotted the pattern on Instagram as part of a sewing challenge. It's now ended but you can still check out what people have made via #anorlaaffair and #theorladress
The Orla dress is a simple bodice design with darts front and back, short sleeves and a gathered rectangle skirt. It is fastened with a zip at the back. The PDF print out was easy to assemble and used less pages than most PDF dresses.
A drapy fabric, like a viscose is recommended but I tried a cotton instead. I chose a beautiful Art Gallery fabric from Sew Me Sunshine, specifically the 'Rainbrella' from the Charleston collection designed by Amy Sinibaldi. This cotton has a misty blue background and is dotted with navy and white umbrellas and dashes of rain. Despite living in rainy South Wales, I love the rain, I think it reminds me of jumping in puddles as a child or dashing carefree without a coat as a teenager.
I think the beauty of this dress, is it could be made from an array of fabric choices, from a bright RICO design doodled cotton to a floral viscose or cotton lawn. It recommends about one and half metres of wide fabric but I challenged myself to fit it out of a narrower fabric, especially as I opted for a sleeveless version.
Suitable for confident beginners, Orla has a straightforward construction but it's worth noting that the seam allowance is only 1cm; and the bodice is short-ish, due to the raised waist style. I went for the medium size but ended up taking out the back darts and adding a piece to the zip to make it bigger, so I would make a large next time. I'm sure this says more about my fitting ability than the pattern! I used French seams where possible and bound all the edges in a fun spotty trim - for a contrast and neat finish.
I certainly would make another Orla dress and layer it up for autumn. I would recommend it to beginners looking for a simple day dress. And with a free pattern and economical fabric requirement, it's sure to become a favourite!
Fellow Sunshine bloggers have also made some lovely Orlas including Emma, who has also made a hacked top using the bodice which you can have a look at here.
And also Georgina who's version include cacti and pom-poms!
You can access the pattern right now from French Navy
Have you tried the Orla yet? What's your favourite simple dress pattern?