Another Sleeveless Orla - Drafting Tutorial

Hope everyone is doing well! I am back today with yet another drafting tutorial. Its amazing how many variations of Orla Dress one can come up with. This variation is not too far off my last sleeveless version, yet it has a different feel to it. Although this version of Orla is also sleeveless, the similarities pretty much stop there. This dress has a curved v-neck at the front and back, as well as a waistband and box pleats on the skirts instead of gathers. The dress is also lined at the bodice. How fun is that? So let's jump into the drafting modifications I made for this dress, shall we?

Tools needed

  • Paper – you can use freezer paper, medical paper or any other paper you use for tracing patterns
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Ruler
  • French Curve (not necessary, but will certainly makes things easier)


You will need to make modifications to both front and back bodice pattern pieces, as well as your front and back skirt pattern pieces. Draw your seam allowances in on your pattern pieces so that you are working off the actual stitching line. To remind you, the seam allowances on Orla are 3/8″ or 1 cm. I will be working in inches.
Let's start with the front bodice piece. I made the exact same changes to the armscye of this dress as with my first sleeveless Orla here. But let's go over them again. Mark point 1 on the shoulder seam 1 1/2″ away from the shoulder. Optional: Note that I also extended the shoulder to point 2 by 1/2″. This is not necessary. To create a v-neck, mark point 3 on the center front fold line, 1 3/4" away from the top. Using French curve draw a new armscye and neckline. I wanted a slight curve to my V-neck, but you are welcome to go as curved or straight as you want! EDIT: Meg kindly reminded me that normally one would need to slightly raise the armscye at the underarm as well as pinch out extra fabric on the side seam to properly convert sleeved bodice to sleeveless. I found that with Orla I didn't need to do it, however it may be just be and my body. You may need at lease to pinch out extra fabric at the side seam. Now we are going to draft a front waistband piece. I wanted my waistband to be 1 1/2" wide so I drew a new seam line in red at the bottom of the bodice, 1 1/2" up from the waist seam. The red line is where your new bodice ends. Everything below the red line is the new waist band. To eliminate the dart seam, we are going to bring the two waistline pieces together. Take out a piece of tracing paper and trace one side of the waistband, indicating a notch on the dart seam. I started with tracing left side. Once you've traced one side, move the tracing paper, aligning the notches you made with the other dart leg, and trace the rest of the waistband. Hardest part is done! Now you will have to add seam allowances to both altered front bodice and the new waistband pieces. Indicate fold line and pattern pieces names. I also like to include a reminder of how many pieces I need to cut out of fabric. Since I lined this dress, I also indicated that I need to cut these pattern pieces out of lining, but it is optional. The notches on the waist band indicate where you will align the darts when you sew the waistband to the bodice.
Now we will repeat the same steps for the back bodice. Don't forget to mark your seam allowances so you are making all modifications off the stitching line. The steps are identical, except I lowered the centre back line by 2 1/4". Let's walk through them again anyways. Start off by marking 3 points on your back bodice: Mark point 1 on the shoulder seam 1 1/2″ away from the shoulder. Optional: Extended the shoulder to point 2 by 1/2″ if you have done it on the front bodice. Mark point 3 on the center back seam line, 2 1/4"" away from the top. Using French Curve draw in new armscye and slightly curved neckline, if you want it to be curved. To add waistband, draw a new seam line 1 1/2" away from the waist line. Grab a piece of tracing paper and trace off one side of the new waistband, indicating a notch on the closest dart leg. Shift the tracing paper so that the notch aligns with the other dart leg and trace the rest of the waistband. Add seam allowances, mark grain lines, pattern piece and cutting guidelines Note, if your waistband pieces are too angular you may want to smooth the lines with the French curve. Edit: After making this dress and wearing it, I do recommend interfacing the bodice pieces for slightly more stability.
Now, let's convert the gathered skirt into box pleat skirt! I envisioned two box pleats at the front and two at the back, both in alignment with the dart legs. The steps are identical for front skirt and back skirt pieces, so I will guide you through changes to the front skirt pattern piece and then you will have to follow the same steps for the back skirt, but taking into account back bodice measurements. You'll see what I mean. You will need your front skirt piece and your waistband piece to help you add box pleats to the skirt piece. Measure the distance from the side seam to the notch on the bottom of the front waistband. Mark point 1 on the waist seam of the skirt the same distance away from the side seam of the skirt. Now, measure the distance from the center front fold to the notch on the front waistband pattern piece. Mark point 2 on the waist seam of the skirt piece, the same distance away from the center front fold of the skirt. That's it! Your box pleat is marked. That was easy, wasn't it? Now you will need to repeat the same steps to the back skirt piece while taking into account measurements of the back waistband piece - the distance from the side seam to the notch and from the center back seam to the notch. As usual, let me know if you have any questions! I will try to be back tomorrow with sewing guide to make this version of the dress. If it doesn't work out, as life does get in a way, I will be back on Friday at the latest. Promise. Until then, Anya
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.