When I signed up to test the sizing update for the Chalk + Notch Orchid Midi dress, it wasn’t necessarily because I was super drawn to the design itself.  I really loved the testing process with the Amelie dress last month and I was excited to give it another go. As I expected, I don’t love the blousy fit of the bodice. BUT! It is my favorite make so far this year.

I don’t usually like sewing. I love the creative process as a whole. I enjoy the planning  – finding the perfect match of fabric and pattern – and then having the finished garment. The whole middle part of making the item is pretty meh. It’s really just the means to the end for me. Often, I find the actually sewing either boring or stressful.

Sewing the Orchid was different. I loved the whole process. It was so fun! The Orchid pattern held lots of new challenges for me. I learned a bunch of new techniques. The instructions are so dang good. (Seriously, everybody talks about Tilly’s instructions, but Gabriela’s are arguably even better.) I think this pattern hit the sweet spot for me because it was challenging, yet very accessible. At no point in the process did I feel stuck. Sure sometimes, I reread the instructions, but I never had to search for a different tutorial or resort to other construction methods.

Lovely Details, Beautifully Explained

The Orchid Midi dress features a loose-fitting, wrap front bodice paired with a breezy A-line skirt. The back bodice has an enclosed yoke and the front is finished with bias binding. The casing for the elasticated drawstring is top stitched to the skirt waist. The split in the skirt is finished with miltered corners. There are options for a floaty sleeve ruffle or billowy bishop sleeve. The best part is the roomy slash pockets!

The Orchid is listed an Intermediate pattern. I think that’s fair given the amount of techniques involved – burrito yoke, elasticated drawstring, slash pockets, miltered corners. However, the instructions are so thorough, that everything feels streamlined. The instructions even walk through prepping the hems before sewing the side seams. Brilliant!

I love how thoughtful this pattern is. The illustrations are clear and helpful. The instruction file is clean and easy to read. They include a comprehensive size chart, custom fitting details and a printing map.  It’s just so thorough! Throughout the testing process, Gabriela asked detailed questions and worked meticulously and precisely to integrate our specific feedback. Gabriela is so committed to putting out the best version of her product. I love that Chalk + Notch listened to the whole conversation about size inclusivity and acted by not only offering more sizes but also creating another bust cup. Thank you!

Make Breakdown

Pattern: Chalk + Notch Orchid Midi
Size: 16 C/D
Fabric & Notions: 3.5 meters Viscose Challis, 16 inches 5mm elastic, 36 inches 1.3cm elastic
Design Modifications: None
Fit Alterations: Shortened skirt and bodice by 1.5 inches each, shortened sleeves by 2.5 inches
Difficulty: Adventurous Beginner – again, it says intermediate, but the instructions make it feel so easy
Future Plans: I might refashion this dress into a two piece. I absolutely love the skirt (mostly because of the huge pockets) but I’d like to rework the bodice into something more fitted. I don’t foresee making another Orchid any time soon, but I will incorporate details and techniques in future projects. Since sewing the Orchid, I’ve download two more C+N patterns since I loved this one so much!

The Orchid Midi may not be my particular style, but it is a darn solid pattern.  I’m so happy to have helped put the new version out into the world!


This pattern was given to me in exchange for private feedback.  All opinions are strictly my own.