Pattern Review: Orchid Dress by Chalk & Notch

wearing a floral dress closeup cropped shot of the front

I’ve been wanting to make a Christy Dawn inspired dress for a while and I think this is the perfect pattern for it! The Orchid Dress by Chalk & Notch is a great sewing pattern to use since it already has a lot of the same features as the Dawn Dress by Christy Dawn like the cross-over bodice, gathers at the front and back yokes and a drawstring waist.

wearing a floral Orchid Dress with brown clogs with hands at side standing in a room with white tile

I made a few easy mods to this version of the Orchid Dress, like leaving out the front slit and making short sleeves, to make it more similar to the Dawn dress. This version was dreamt up while making my first Orchid Dress (pictures below) so I was familiar with the pattern and knew what modifications I wanted to try.

Keep reading to learn more about the pattern, fabric I used to make the Orchid Dress (both versions) and what I learned throughout the sewing process!

The Pattern

Like I mentioned before, the pattern is the Orchid Midi Dress by Chalk and Notch Patterns and it comes with two views – View A has flutter sleeves and View B has long sleeves with elastic at the wrist – and two bust cup options. Both time I made the Orchid Dress I made a size 4, which is right where I fell on the size chart for a bust measurement of 34″ and the fit is great for me. The pattern is labeled an intermediate sewing pattern and I would agree with that since there are some steps that require a little more time and skill.

There are a lot of little pieces that make up this and when working with rayon, it can take some time to cut everything out. Interfacing is also used quite a bit in this dress (the back yoke, the front slit and pocket openings) but it really helps give stability especially when working with lightweight or slippery fabrics.

Fabric

the orchid dress bodice in progress in a floral fabric

The Orchid Dress is designed with lightweight woven fabrics in mind and rayon is recommended for View A so the flutter sleeves drapes nicely. I used a black ditsy floral rayon challis from Lyrical Fabrics for my first version (View A) and it feels amazing on – so silky soft!

For my Christy Dawn dupe I also used a rayon – a rayon crinkle challis also from Lyrical Fabrics – because I fell in love with the floral pattern. However, as much as I love the fabric, I wish I had used a lightweight cotton instead because the crinkle challis was difficult to work with. It also gives a different feel to the dress and is more drapey compared to the Dawn dress (which is made in a lightweight cotton). I’m still on the hunt for the perfect floral cotton lawn to make another!

the back yoke of the Orchid Dress in progress using the burrito method with lots of pins

The crinkle challis fabric has this lovely texture and feels almost like a cotton gauze – but with so much more drape! I debated ironing out all the wrinkles first and then making it, but decided to just iron out the large creases after washing/drying and try to work with the texture instead. The texture made the fabric feel almost stretchy at times which made the more detailed steps, like the bias binding in the front, the gathered yokes and the waistband channel, trickier to sew. Using lots of pins to secure everything really helped!

Sewing with this rayon reminded me of sewing with silk, like when I made my silk patchwork dress, and a lot of the same tips can apply!

Modifications

The mods I made weren’t difficult but required a little extra planning! I’ll briefly walk through what changes I made, but other than a few steps I skipped (like the front slit/hem) I followed the pattern instructions as written.

Bodice

I shortened the bodice 1″ on the pattern piece (see photos above) by using the shorten/lengthen line. This was a change I also made on my first Orchid Dress so that the waist would hit more at my natural waist. This mod also helps to combat any extra draping in the front crossover section that can happen when working with rayon. You can tell in my final pictures, that there is still some gaping in the bodice happening so I may go back and sew in a snap to help prevent that.

Don’t forget to shorten the back bodice piece too! I did, ha, so I had to shorten it after the bodice was assembled. Shortening the bodice after it’s sewn together is also an option – this way you can get an an idea of where the bodice hits on your body – you just have to remember to transfer the notches afterwards.

Skirt Length

the two skirt pieces laying on the floor lengthened by 1"

I wanted a little bit longer skirt, so I lengthened the skirt pieces by 1″ at the lengthen/shorten line by adding in and taping scrap paper pieces (photo above). The hem is deeper and designed to work with the front slit using mitered corners, but since I was leaving that out, I planned to make a narrower hem to keep more length in the skirt. I ended up doing a double 3/8″ hem which worked out well!

Shortened Sleeves

I used the sleeve pattern pieces from View B and shortened the sleeves to be 4″ from the armhole. To do this, I cut at the lengthen/shorten line and then used the pattern piece to trace the slightly curved line at the cuff at the spot where I wanted it shortened (the curved line helps the sleeve to lay straight and not flare out). Don’t forget to plan in seam allowance! I sewed a double 3/8″ hem at the sleeves like I did at the skirt hem.

Skipped Center Seam and Slit

To make the skirt without a center seam/slit I laid the front skirt piece on the fold (see photos above). When doing this, it also adds about 2″ total to the center front since there is seam allowance added there for the slit. I planned to sew some basting stitches at the top center in order to ease the skirt onto the waistband and knew that the extra gathering wouldn’t be too noticeable.

You could also cut the skirt on the fold along the inner edge of the pattern piece (where the center seam is sewn). There is also seam allowance added in to sew the center seam so that amount would also need to be subtracted before laying on the fold (the seam allowance is 3/8″ (1 cm) throughout the pattern). I almost tried this but decided that I wanted extra ease in the skirt since I was leaving out the front slit.

After the waistband was pinned on, I sewed two lines of basting stitches in between the drawstring casing openings at the center top (see photos above). It’s hard to tell in my photos, but I sewed one line at 1/4″ and another at 1/2″ then gathered the stitches to bring the casing ends closer together.

If I did this again, I would try sewing the basting stitches between each pocket opening to make the gathering more gradual instead of focused right in the middle. But really, you can’t tell when the dress is on and tied up anyway!

Final Thoughts

wearing the floral Orchid Dress in a room with white tiled floor looking down and holding the skirt with one hand

I really love this pattern and I can see myself making it again! The instructions were very clear and I appreciate the extra thought that went into the design to make it feel more professionally finished. Between the two versions I made, I prefer the first one I made (black floral) mainly because of the fabric. Fabric choice can make a huge difference! Like I mentioned above, I want to try this pattern again in a lightweight cotton or even linen to see how it looks and feels.

Overall I think the second dress turned out ok! My experience with the fabric did leave me feeling a bit “meh” at the end and a tiny bit disappointed that I didn’t go with a cotton in the first place. The fabric is also pretty see-through, which I was not expecting, so some extra thought has to go into what to wear under the dress.

wearing the floral Orchid Dress with a beige sweater and brown clogs standing in a room with white tiled floor

This is a great dress for spring and summer and I love how it looks pair with my hand knit Field Day Jacket sweater and clogs. 🙂

I hope my notes were helpful and maybe inspired you to make this dress – let me know if you do! Happy sewing!

Bethany signature

3 thoughts on “Pattern Review: Orchid Dress by Chalk & Notch”

  1. What a gem! I like both but I think your second one with the golden floral is really special. I am so excited! I’ve been searching and all I could find were vintage patterns. I like all your mods and will definitely use the shortened waist. I haven’t ever made a dress or used a pattern since 8th grade, though. Wish me luck!

  2. Hello! I love the way the dress falls with the fabric you are using. Mine is a bit more stiff with quilting cotton. I was wondering if you remember how long this pattern took you to put together? I would love if, like with recipes, we could have time frames in addition to “ingredients” for our sewing patterns. Haha! Obviously, sewing can vary wildly from person to person with different skill levels and techniques, with those “two hour Vogue” patterns taking me 4 hours with kids running around, but nevertheless an estimate is useful!

    1. Bethany Lynne

      Hi Bess,

      Thank you for question! I’m not always great at keeping track of the time with my sewing projects but I would say I spent about 5 hours total (including cutting the pattern out) with kids running around. 🙂 And that’s a great idea to add in time frames like in recipes – thanks for the suggestion!

      – Bethany

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