Pattern Reviews

Chalk & Notch Orchid Midi Dress Pattern Review

2 images of a curly haired brunette showing the front and back of a black and white dress. In a white area at the bottom reads text pattern review chalk and notch orchid dress. Then a website address petite font dot com.
Image of the upper half of a woman in three-quarter profile wearing a black and white dress with a pink triangle at bottom with text that reads pattern review chalk and notch orchid dress. Then a website address petite font dot com.

The Chalk & Notch Orchid is a midi dress, which is why its full name is the Orchid Midi. But I didn’t actually make a midi dress, cuz I’m short!

What is a midi dress? According to Wikipedia, it’s a dress that hits around the calf. It’s also called “tea” length. As a rule, I do not wear skirts or dresses below the knee. (The only long dress I own is my wedding dress and that even had a train!)

I feel even shorter and stouter in anything past my patella. It also feels like I’m playing dress up in my older sister’s clothes. I just don’t look good in a skirt past a certain length.

So that’s why all the pictures you’ll see below are of a shortened version. I hacked it a few different ways, which you can read about here and here.

The website description is as follows:

The Orchid Midi Dress is a wrap bodice with a midi length skirt. View A has ruffle sleeves. View B has long sleeves with a gathered cap and wrist.

I chose to work with View A, the ruffled sleeve version. I do love a good ruffle!

*Housekeeping: full disclosure, I received this pattern for free as a member of the #sewmystyle2019 leadership team.*

Orchid Midi Size Chart

Size chart for Chalk & Notch Orchid dress

Chalk & Notch recently started upgrading their patterns with cup sizes. Huge yay!! That means no full bust adjustments!

My current measurements are 43″-48.5″-41″-46″ in the high bust-bust-waist-hips. That put me 1/2″ (1.3 cm) outside of the size 20 C/D bodice.

I asked C&N owner Gabriela if I should bother with a 1/4″ (.64 cm) full bust adjustment. Thankfully she said the amount of ease in the bodice should cover it. Yay!

The instructions and website also include finished garment measurements for each of the above measurements as well as the long sleeve and full dress length from the waist.


The Orchid is intended for woven fabric. The recommended fabrics are “light to medium weight woven fabric with nice drape.” Suggestions include rayon challis or crepe; cotton voile, lawn, or shirting; linen and double gauze.

I have so much of all of these fabrics in my stash at the moment that I’m envisioning a bunch of future versions of this!

But for this version, I used a cotton shirting I picked up at the FIDM Scholarship Store for $1/yard. I also ran into Nick Verreos coming out of the elevator, so that’s my celebrity spotting story for you.

PDF Criteria

Here is how the PDF stacks up

  • Layered sizes: yes
  • Colored lines by size: no
  • No trim pattern: no
  • Prints to edge of paper: no
  • Print layout included: yes, page 9 of the instructions
  • A0 available: yes

Pattern Instructions

The instructions start off with diagrams for typical adjustments (lengthening/shortening bodice, sleeve, and skirt plus a full bust adjustment). Then there are completely separate instructions for both View A and View B. I really appreciate not having to jump through steps for a different view, and every single step is illustrated with a line drawing.

That does mean that the overall size of the booklet is rather long at 39 pages. However, there are abbreviated versions of the instructions for each view. Each set spans 2 pages because the booklet prints out in landscape format (they would otherwise likely be less than 2 pages).

The instructions are also in color. Take note of this if your printer is set for black and white, as the wrong side, lining and fusible areas in blue, pink, and shaded, respectively.

There are a couple of nice finishing techniques, which really serve to elevate the end results:

  • The front and back bodice are attached via the burrito method. (Here’s a great video from Kittenish Behavior explaining how that’s done.)
  • A separate waistband is included to create a channel for the waist ties/back elastic.
  • The slit has mitered corners for clean finish around the hem.
  • The hems are interfaced

One really neat thing about View B’s ruffle sleeves is that they overlap like petal sleeves. Because the inside of the flounces will show, the instructions call for lining them. I wasn’t going to do this, but the inside of my shirting was white, so in the end, I did.

Detail view of the Orchid midi dress ruffle sleeve

Pattern Notions

The notions list includes elastic for View B sleeves and the waist, lining for the pockets (if you don’t want to use your main fabric), and lightweight or tricot interfacing.

One additional notion needed is bias tape. It’s for finishing the neckline. You can always make your own, but I opted for simple store bought double fold tape.

Pattern Adjustments

Other than my hacks (shortening and narrowing the skirt and then moving the slit to the back), the rest were fitting adjustments:

  • shortened the bodice 2.75″ (7 cm)
  • lowered the bust point 3/4″ (2 cm)
  • 5/8″ (1.6 cm) high round back adjustment in the yoke
  • 1.125″ (3 cm) broad back adjustment

Shortening the bodice also raised the neckline, eliminating any worry about gaping!

Pattern Difficulty Rating: 3/5

Chalk & Notch rate this as an intermediate level pattern, and I agree.

A wrap front top is a little more involved than a regular bodice. There is the added difficulty of a yoke, plus gathers in both the front and back. Lastly, ruffle sleeves can be a bit more advanced.

However, I think a confident beginner could tackle this project given a stable woven fabric. Anything too slippery (like a rayon challis or silky polyester) may prove too challenging for a true beginner.

Final Thoughts on the Orchid Midi

Front view of a curly haired brunette with her hands in the pockets of a shortened and narrowed Orchid dress in black and white floral fabric

I LOVE THIS DRESS! It was the perfect combination of fabric and pattern details. I love feminine touches like ruffled sleeves and wrap fronts. It was also surprisingly easy to make!

Back view of a curly haired brunette in shortened and narrowed Orchid dress in black and white floral fabric

The only other Chalk & Notch pattern I have is the Fringe (or my R2D2 top). So far so good! Both of these patterns fit my style perfectly. I like to call it relaxed feminine. I think Gabriela might secretly live in my closet…can’t see what she releases next!

This is also a strong contender for my top 5 patterns of 2019, which I’ll publish in December!

Have you made the Orchid Midi? How did yours turn out?

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M. L. James
Jun 29, 2019 5:06 pm

Hi Paulette, I’m checking to see if I can comment on your post. 😉Mona