Introducing the FREE Orchard Top and Dress

HelenOrchard Top and Dress, Pattern News35 Comments

Introducing the FREE Orchard Top & Dress

It’s that time again—time for a new FREE Helen’s Closet pattern! We love providing approachable, accessible options for your sewing practice and this design fits the bill. Two top options, two dress options, inseam pockets, and a gorgeous bias binding finish. Let’s take a closer look! 

Introducing the FREE Orchard Top and Dress

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The Orchard Top and Dress - Helen's Closet Patterns

The Orchard Top and Dress is an effortless addition to any wardrobe. This pattern includes sizes 0-34 (up to a 60” chest and 62” hip). Orchard features spaghetti straps and a dartless a-line silhouette. Inseam pockets are included for the dress views. Orchard is easy to fit and can be adjusted to include a bust dart if required. 

The Orchard Top - Two Views - Helen's Closet Patterns

Four views are included: two tops and two dresses. The cropped top is super cute with high-waisted garments and the longer top is ideal as a classic tank or camisole layering piece. The short dress is fun and flirty, and the long dress is dreamy and oh-so comfortable. All views make great wardrobe staples because they are so versatile and easy to style!

The Orchard Dress - Two Views - Helen's Closet Patterns

Sew Orchard in a drapey lightweight fabric for a flowy tank or sundress. Try it in a light cotton or linen for more structure and volume. The straps and bias finish can be sewn in a contrast fabric if desired! We love our versions in washed linen and lightweight cotton. Rayon/viscose challis or twill or would be absolutely dreamy, too! 

The Orchard Top and Dress - Helen's Closet Patterns
The Orchard Top and Dress - Helen's Closet Patterns

Orchard is an obvious choice for summer and it also works well for holidays and events when sewn in a fancy fabric. We love wearing Orchard in the garden or to the beach! Orchard has narrow straps that will show bra straps when worn, but we say—embrace the straps! Who gives a hoot! You can also pair Orchard with your favorite t-shirt or turtleneck for more coverage in the cooler months. We love that it can be an all-season workhorse in your wardrobe. Looking for something to pair Orchard with? Try our new Moss Jacket or Dawson Top! They pair beautifully together.

The Orchard Top and Dress - Two Views - Helen's Closet Patterns
The Orchard Top and Dress - Helen's Closet Patterns
The Orchard Dress - Two Views - Helen's Closet Patterns

The name ‘Orchard’ fits this pattern so perfectly because it is exactly what I would want to be wearing if I were to walk around in an orchard. In this scenario, I’d be admiring the trees and not doing any picking, haha. Orchard is also the last name of my high school home economics teacher, Ms. Orchard! She was so supportive and kind to me and really encouraged my creative endeavors, especially at the sewing machine. It feels fitting that we have a pattern named after her, and a FREE one at that! I hope this pattern inspires and encourages others to try sewing, too. Here is a picture of me and Ms. Orchard from my high school yearbook, alongside the dress I made in class and wore to prom. 

Helen and her high school home ec teacher, Ms. Orchard!

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About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

35 Comments on “Introducing the FREE Orchard Top & Dress”

  1. I absolutely LOVE that this pattern is named for your high school home ec teacher! I’m so touched by this as my own sewing teacher was a massive inspiration and champion for me as well. Your grad dress (and you!) are just stunning and I love the Orchard Top & Dress. Thanks so much for sharing it and your story with us. <3

  2. This little top will be a great scrap buster! I may try cutting this on the bias as well. Thanks, Helen! Loved your inspo story too!

  3. Oh, wow, another of your lovely patterns – and free? Thanks so much! I’ve already looked at the instructions, and am impressed with the two strap alternatives you provide – you guys always go all the way! Amazing :).

    Also – may I say – wowza! That dress! You must have been the queen of the ball, Helen! So gorgeous!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It has been so hot here in Vermont and after a few hours of gardening I love to take a shower and put on a simple sundress and relax. This pattern will be perfect!

  5. Wow! What a disappointment! Not only are the patterns for the top and dresses basically the same pattern, just at different lengths. Now, ladies with more of a prominent bust are completely excluded due to the spaghetti straps used in this pattern. These style of straps have absolutely no support coverage. Meaning they don’t disguise the bra worn underneath, for those of us who cannot go without the support
    Very disappointed.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      I am sorry that this free pattern is such a disappointment to you. It is a simple design because it is free. I understand that spaghetti straps are not for everybody, but perhaps our free Luna tank would be better suited for you, as it has wide straps that are very bra-friendly.

    2. I am appalled by your cruel and unnecessary comment. This pattern is adorable and highly versatile. Nothing is stopping you from wearing it with bra straps showing (as Helen has styled it in some of the samples.) It’s not at all uncommon, and could be a fun way to add visual interest. The Helen’s Closet community is a highly positive, supportive one. Not sure why you are here.

    3. My dear, just looking at the pattern I can see they’re not all the same, it’s pretty obvious that the grading at neck and armhole is as professional as all HC patterns. With a tiny adjustment you can easily add wider straps if covering your straps is so vital. Or buy the Reynolds. This is, after all, a free pattern. Personally, I am totally disinterested in an apron pattern… maybe I should have complained

  6. Oh what a lovely tribute to your teacher! (and what an utterly gorgeous prom dress as well!!!) The Orchard looks beautiful and just right for hot summers – I’ve got some very dear fabric scraps that I’ve been stumped what to do with and I think this might just be right. I am always amazed by the quality of patterns you put out and that you’re still continuing to make such beautiful patterns available for free – thank you Helen and team!! 🙂

  7. I can’t believe people will complain about a FREE pattern. If it’s not a style for you, just don’t get it! Thanks, Helen, for your continuing generosity.

  8. How generous of you to offer a FREE pattern. In these lean financial times it is very gracious of you to share your creativity and labor with the general public. I wish everyone was able to appreciate your talent, skill, and joy you put into this beautiful pattern. I can’t wait to try it!

  9. These look so summery for a stroll in an orchard. I’ve got one apple tree in my front garden and one in my back garden. That’s my new definition of an orchard, I’ll go with that and make myself a cool summer dress with your lovely pattern. Thank you for providing it for free.

  10. Exactly the pattern I need for the approaching Australian summer. Thankyou for this beautiful freebie!

    And wow! Your prom dress was spectacular.
    How wonderful to have had the support of such a great teacher. It makes such a big difference to surviving high school

  11. Love it, thank you!! Made a tank yesterday and wore it to dinner under an open cardigan last night. I see this becoming a wardrobe staple for sure!

  12. Thanks for this lovely pattern! It looks like the perfect simple sundress that will be oh so comfy in linen for the big heat… I for one gave up long ago on worrying about bra straps showing . The less fabric in my upper body in sticky humidity the better! Love the way the straps are made, very clever – I love skinny bias straps but they usually stretch out, these shouldn’t. And I appreciate the included instructions for strap variations.

    Plus, wow, Helen! You were a budding designer back at school! That dress is pretty amazing, and you look stunning! You must have been the belle of the ball?

  13. Helen, I made the Orchard tank top, and I want to thank you for an awesome pattern! I am only 40 but have already started getting hot flashes, and this tank top is a dream. I had been looking for one without darts so it would stay away from my body, and this is perfect! I am already thinking of all the different fabrics I have that I could make more out of. This was also the first time I had ever tried woven bias binding, and your instructions were great! If I had any criticism to give, it might be that I think I could have used some guidance on which interfacing to use. The one I selected is far too thick, and I had a lot of trouble making the adjustable straps as a result. Other than that, it is outstanding! Thank you so much for this wonderful free pattern!

  14. Just downloaded this lovely free pattern, could I ask what cup size the pattern is for. I have a 4″ difference between high bust and full bust. would I need to do a FBA? I am new to adjusting patterns. TIA

    1. Hi Sally! This one is drafted for a B-cup but I find it fits my D-cup bust pretty well thanks to the a-line shape. I also have a 4″ difference. A quick muslin of the crop top might be the way to go here!

  15. I am fairly new to your community, but I have purchased the York Pinafore and the Yanta overalls. I have made the Pinafore 4 times for myself, my granddaughter & sister. I have also had two day sessions with my two nieces. We all love this pattern. I am now working on the Yanta Overalls. In both patterns your instructional booklet is awesome. My question though is there a tutorial for the free Orchard pattern? Mahalo for sharing your free patterns. Cy Young

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