Copycat Orla

This is my most favourite dress is a long time. The kind of make when you take it from your machine after the hem and think Awwww Yeah, this is a good one!

I got this fabric especially to try and replicate this dress I saw on Simply Be as I glamourously mentioned in my vlog.

It caught my eye and I really liked the relaxed style of it. I thought a slight hack of the French Navy Orla Dress which I have made a couple of times now, once as the dress and once as a top hack.

Anyway, I know it’s a great dress to hack but I only really needed to add frills to the sleeves, the rest is very similar to the Orla.

It’s difficult to chose a thread for a fabric like this; the instagram world voted white as a majority so I went with white and used white in my overlocker. I only changed this to do the black bias on the neckline.

I cut the fabric, using the squares to line up as much as I could. I lengthened the sleeve pieces and added some fabric to the width of the skirt so that it would be fuller. I also cut two extra pieces for the ruffles on the sleeves.

I used the remaining fabric to create the ruffle for make recent skirt mak and I knew that as I tried to gather it, it frayed ridiculously. To try and avoid this I used elastic to gather, similarly to what you do for the Moneta by measuring the length of the bodice and cutting a piece of elastic to that length. I then overlocked the elastic on place. I did the sleeve ruffles in the same way. It created really neat and even gathers and I would definitely do it like this again.

I the attached the skirt and the bodice and overlocked them as normal. The sleeves with set in and this wasn’t any different as the ruffle was already attached. I finished it with a 18inch black zip and black bias binding.

I attached some little bows at the sleeves. I think the bows of the dress are a bit bigger but I’m not much of a bow girl so I used smaller ones.

I think the dress is a great shape, it is lose without being unflattering and I’m so pleased with it as a replication of the dress.

I don’t usually bother to cost up my makes but I think it’s interesting to consider when I’m copying directly from a retailer so in terms of cost-

The dress on Simply Be = £35.00

French Navy Orla Dress= FREE

2 metres gingham fabric =£10.00

2 Black Ribbons =60p

Thread= probably about £1

So I saved £23.40 and I probably have a better fit. Bonus!! It’s definitely worth using the high street as inspiration- what do you think?

Valentine and Stitch Angelina Experiment (and discount code!)

Valentine and Stitch are a new and upcoming, very reasonable PDF pattern company I have found through instagram, mainly through the Sleevefest challenge #sleevefest2017 which owner Helen and Diane of have ran this year. They have just brought out a new Cardigan pattern (perfect for the #cosycardichallange) so check it out.

She does a couple of fantastic  free patterns too like the Lotus but also the amazing Angelina pattern which definitely has sleeves to make an impact for Sleevefest; they are really full and make a real statement. There are several options, a dress or a top without sleeves or with shorter or three quarter length sleeves.

I mentioned on Instagram that I wasn’t sure about the Angelina as I wasn’t convinced about how a Full Bust Allowance (FBA) adaptation would work on a pattern for knit fabrics. I haven’t got a lot of experience with knits and whilst they stretch, which can allow for a bit of wiggle room, you don’t want it to stretch to that point where YOU (and everyone else for that matter) know it’s too small, especially across the bust.

Anyway, the very lovely Helen got in touch and asked me if I would do a bit of an experiment to try my usual FBA on the original pattern for the Angelina and also send detailed measurements over for them to make me a personalised version. This was so that they could see how their sizes fit ‘real people’ like me and my somewhat larger chest (not showing off here, just a fact of my life!!)  and to see if they can help us ladies to ‘cheat’ an FBA by giving sizes to grade up and down.

Of course, I agreed! It’s so important to me that my clothes fit me properly so any excuse to get involved in that side of things is something I’m always up for. Anyone who isn’t in to fitting and pattern drafting might find this blog post a bit heavy on the technical/construction side. Sorry!

Anyway, Helen and Rich (Helen’s right hand tech-man!) kindly sent me the original pattern which I used my usual FBA adaptation on. I follow a tutorial which came as an article within Sew Style, Stitch Your Size magazine, which I have because I featured in it!  The magazine is aimed at getting the fit right so there are lots of tutorials. Although there are many tutorials and suggestions available for FBA,  this is the one which works for me so I’ve stuck with it.

I did my FBA as usual and was pretty happy with it, I had managed to keep the subtle but necessary curve to the pattern and it looked pretty good. I cut the largest size which is an XL and closest to my measurements. This allowed me to get as close as I could to my waist measurement before adapting it.

I sent very comprehensive measurements over to Rich which included my waist, hips and back measurements (cue the hubby for help!) this was obviously a long process for Rich and I’m really grateful.

I then cut the version which Rich had made with my measurements and I found it to be very different. I hope that you can see in the pictures that there is a size difference between the original pattern which I adapted and the personalised pattern. The personlised pattern is obviously bigger, however, I was pleased to find that my adaptation curves in at the same place as the one made to my measurements (underneath). I was also pleased to see the curve of the arm hole was similar. I think it shows that the FBA works and that the pattern isn’t far from what I needed at all.

I did notice the the waistline is much higher up on the personalised version (probably due to giving all my back measurements and across my ribs) which is something that I probably lose by cutting the pattern width ways in order to do the adjustments. Although my adjustments have always worked for me previously, this has really made me think if I am getting the absolute best fit and I found this has been so useful to help me with that.

I think I also need to consider the fit at the back, another massive positive of giving so many measurements to Rich was that I was able to see the difference that my larger chest makes there too. I think for knit patterns pieces like this, I need to add more to the back too so that the pieces meet right at the sides. I must work out how to do this!

I learnt a lot about my fitting from doing this. In the meantime, I have a pattern which is prepared especially for me, which is awesome! I’m sure most pattern companies would love to offer this to us but it was clear that this is a very labour intensive process and not something which is easily done! However, I hope you agree that the fit of the personalised pattern is great, it doesn’t pull anywhere and it fits well all over. A massive thanks to Helen and Rich for allowing me to get involved in this and for putting so much time in. I love how much effort they are putting in to the fit of their patterns.

It has allowed Helen to see that their standard sizes aren’t far away from mine (in my attempt to represent a curvy girl) in terms of placement and helped her to further research standard sizes so that she can also go up to 2XL with her next pattern draft which I know would cater for me and many others out there and would help with grading up for not only FBA but curvier hips or bums!

The rest of the pattern was easy to construct and produces a cool and laid back style. The sleeves are almost one big circle, which are easy to insert and I used my new overlocker to finish the hems. They give a really full and drapey shape. It makes it stand out from a plain Tee or dress.



As a special treat for helping with this Helen is giving my readers 15% off the Angelina! The special code is : EMMA15 and it is valid until midnight BST on Wednesday 27th September. Thanks so much Helen! Enjoy!!
I chose a beautiful black Jersey with bright flowers from Flamingo Fabrics it’s lovely and stable, which means it was great to sew and doesn’t cling to me and it has a great deep colour. I’m so pleased with the shaping- for a jersey dress, it doesn’t cling and it skims me really well so no lumps and bumps. I’m looking forward to wearing this with tights and boots on my holiday next week!



Wanted Tee – Translation and Tutorial to save you Blood, Sweat, Time and possibly, Tears

First of all, I’m sorry to anyone who found the Wanted Tee by Vanessa Pouzet as easy as most seem to have to construct – you don’t need to read this! For those who got as frustrated as I did – this is for you.

I don’t usually do tutorials as I don’t really feel qualified to do so but when I was looking for help with square neckline of the Wanted Tee, I found it seriously lacking, apart from this tutorial on matching stripes from Stitch My Style, which I was grateful for and it helped a lot but by this time I found myself nearly screaming,  ‘Yes! But where do I stitch?’ at my screen. So I am endeavouring to make anyone who feels like me, feel a little bit better. It will talk you through steps 4 to 6.

The translation wasn’t that helpful to me in the end (I was definitely blinded by my confusion!)  but it feels necessary to have when it’s going wrong -so, to save a job, here’s the translation, which my lovely friend who is a French teacher at school did for me. Though even she had to look up some of the specialist terms:


Step 4: This is a more delicate than complicated step, practice on a cotton non-stretch fabric. You will realise the right way to place the angle without wasting the fabric. Then you will not have difficulty in fabric which stretches.

1. Pin the bottom of the band to the front of the top, edge on edge with the fabric in the centre. Stretch it in to place. The corners of the strip must exceed 2 cm on each side. Stitch the seam line to 1 cm, stopping exactly on the connection of the band (the corners).

2. Push the band and snip with scissors in to the two corners to the seam. It’s scary but you have to go to the sewing point. If you leave 1mm, this will do. It is necessary to open to angle completely to sew the next seam.


Step 5: The fabric will form a fold. Be careful not to sew it. Work on the wrong side of the fabric if you are more comfortable.

Pin the middle of the back of the band with the middle of the back. All you have to do is spread the tension on the rest of the neckline. Open the corners completely and pin the rest of the band. Push the out of the way so as not to stitch it. It is possible to work on the reverse in order to control the fold. Stitch all the rest of the seam by 1cm. Press the seam.


Step 6: Fold the rest of the band on the back of the t-shirt. Overlap the three layers of thickness together to the closest seam. Overlooking or zig-zag and trim the excess fabric. Lay the seams towards the outside. Press the seam allowances to the inside. Optional: top stitch the seam.

Hopefully this was all you needed but in addition, here’s a little walk-through to attach the neckband, which I found the most tricky. It’s step 4 to 6 on the pattern instructions. I refer to the top, which is the front bodice piece and the band, which is the facings already prepared throughout. Excuse the glue on my work-bench – it’s a well used craft station!

Step 4: To pin the front band, place  the top face up and the band face down. Pin it in place and marked a cm in to the top from both ends (shown by blue dots) . Your stitch-line should end dead on the open diagonal seam. Essentially from one pointy finger to the other in the picture!

You should a stitch 1 cm seam allowance from the edge of the neckline. Attaching the open band to the neckline.

You then snip into the the corner of the neckline to the end of the stitching on the band as close as you can. (along the line drawn in red but on the top ONLY – not in to the band.)

Step 5: Then turn the band upwards and pin along the edges of the neckline in the same way as the front piece, starting from the middle point of both the band and the top and easy the fabric round. The corners should look as they do in the picture below.

Start the stitching again at the point where the stitch-line you just completed ends, all the way round to the other point.

The band will then look like this from the inside. 

Step 6: You then fold the band inwards and pin the two layers of the band piece together with the neckline of the top (the one centimetre seam allowance). Sandwich them together and then zig zag or overlock them together. This should be separate from the rest of the top. Trim any excess.

Press your seams, it should look really neat and that is the neckband done. Turn it out and it should look like this. Don’t think I’m showing off, I’m surprised with myself that it turned out so neat!

The rest should be straight forward. I hope this has helped anyone who needed it. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try to help, though I do not claim to be a professional, otherwise it may not have confused me in the first place!! **please note, she also includes a bias way to finish the neckline but I’m not even going there!!

I love the pattern in the end, it is as flattering as promised and I will definitely make it again. I hope you enjoy it as much as me. 

Here’s the finished item!! I submitted it for Indie Pattern Month under the second category of ‘New to Me’ as I have obviously never made a Vanessa Pouzet pattern before. I find challenges like this are what has helped me to improve all along so I’m always pleased to learn. You’ll see more pictures here.

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