Bellasola refashion - Orsola + Belladone

Introducing the refashioned Bellasola aka the Orsola Dress and the Belladone. So much love for the design of this dress, particularly the back ! but crikey was it a mission and a half to get the bodice to cooperate!


The fabric was miscellaneous (probably polyester I think?) from Affordable Textiles ($12/m - I bought 2.5 originally more than my usual 2 but I really wanted quite a full skirt, which ended up being serendipitous as it gave me lots to work with for the refashion) I made this into a Belladone dress 4 years ago for a wedding and it has attended another one since. The original dress (see below) used the Belladone bodice combined with a gathered skirt, which at the time I loved but with my closet navel gazing I've moved away from the fit and flare. But I loved this fabric so was loathe to part with it, especially given the low number of wears... enter a refashion!


Pattern is the By Hand London Orsola Dress and Skirt ($16) combined with the Deer and Doe Belladone ($20 - 2nd make) front bodice.

Calling the total cost $18, mostly the Orsola pattern and interfacing, the Belladone pattern & material were sunk costs from the previous make, and thread is negligible as I buy giant cones of black thread for very little and use for everything.

OK back to the pattern... I loved the style of the Orsola especially that back detail. However, to be honest gorgeous design aside I was really disappointed by this pattern and the accompanying instructions.

The pattern

While the back (I amazingly got absolutely no gapage at all!!) and skirt were fine, I fought the front bodice like none before. The fit was lovely around the neck, arms, side, and waist, but created a weird billowing pointy extra boob out to the side. At first I blamed this on myself and soldiered on making a total of 6 different bodices (incr/decr FBA, shift darts around) none of which worked. Next after sharing about my dilemma on instagram a few people shared very similar issues. Based on this/ time constraints/ sewing is supposed to be a fun hobby I decided it might actually not be me, so in the essence of time I threw in threw in the towel and turned to the Belladone bodice that I knew fit so well.

As I wanted to preserve the overall bodice shape just substituting the bust fit, I did the following (note none of this is perhaps a "correct" way to do things, but it got there).

  • I lined up the 2 bodices matching the front seam/waist line and through some trial and error blended the Belladone bodice from the bottom of the armscye down with the Orsola from the bottom of the armscye up.

  • Making sure to match the waist width and side height (both of those with the darts closed).

  • The armscye took a bit of work to get right given the differences in darts so did a best guess then tissue fitted and pinched to fit, manipulating the front shoulder seam slant to get the fit that worked - there are a few wrinkles I could do without but I went with "She'll be right"!

  • Finally I checked the flow of the front and back shoulder seams to make sure everything was working

Over all I’m pretty happy with the final result and like that it also echoes back to the dresses original style pre-refashion, but phew what a mission to get there.


I really didn’t like these instructions… warning this is a bit of a gripe and not at all unique to this specific pattern... but rather a pattern I've seen amongst "easy" patterns e.g “Very Easy” Vogue/Mcalls etc (putting the Orsola in the same category based on the description from their website "Orsola is as easy to wear as she is to make; a chic sheath dress with an unexpected wrap detail in back, and no fiddly zippers or fastenings!").

I think a lot of it comes down to terminology, Simple vs Easy and the fact that while they might appear to be similar words, in practice are not interchangeable. I have no problem with “simple” patterns they are an excellent starting point for a new sewist and can be a fun quick sew. What I don’t like are “Easy” patterns because generally I find all they do is not actually simplify things through clear direction and smart simple construction. Rather they just create an illusion of simple/easy by cutting out necessary steps required for good finish, which if you are a beginner could result in a disheartening final product and can teach poor technique.

For example this pattern has a fully lined bodice, yet no mention of under-stitching?! In addition there are multiple facings, a waistband, and tie straps yet no interfacing?!

Changes I made to construction (a lot of these were based on instructions that produced a finish I liked from a similar Mcalls pattern):

  • Under-stitch the entire neckline, and as far up each armhole as I could manage

  • Add interfacing to all facings including the inside waistband and inside ties

  • Substitute stay-stitching with interfacing tape – this is more of a personal preference as I find it gives a better finish and further reduces accidental distortion of the fabric

  • Switch up the construction of the waistband around the tie hole (again personal preference). I sewed the front and back partially together then joined along the side instead of working top down, I found this gave a cleaner finish on the hole.


Beyond everything I discussed above I still did versions of my standard adjustments... Apologies for the mixed metric and imperial that follows... it's a weird habit I seem to have developed using both, mostly I think because I like round numbers?!

My standard adjustments:

  • approx. 1 inch forward shoulder

  • approx. 4cm FBA (I always size based off upper bust measurement)

  • bodice shortening + overall shortening (I'm 5'2" / 1.59m)

Pattern Adjustments:

Based on my measurements I made a 10/14

  • Forward shoulder - 1 inch

  • FBA - 3cm (note this was on the Belladone front bodice)

  • Shortened bodice - 4.5 cm

  • Shortened skirt - 2 1/4 inches (initially 1/2" which resulted in below knee length, but as I was refashioning this was the max length that would fit)

Thanks for reading my ramblings! Has anyone else had success with this pattern? please enlighten me if you have! and how do you feel about Easy vs Simple?

Hils x


  1. What a lot of work, but the end result is beautiful!


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