Home Blog Making the Malvarosa Dress for Petites Tutorial by SBCC

Making the Malvarosa Dress for Petites Tutorial by SBCC

by Pauline Alice

I’m so happy to present this tutorial by Betsy from SBCC patterns (Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick, love the name!), specialized in sewing patterns for petite women.

And you know what? I am a petite woman! 5 ft 1 (1, 53 m).

Betsy has made the Malvarosa dress for herself and proposed to share some tips on Petites alterations.

So please welcome Betsy who’s going to show you how to alter very easily the Malvarosa pattern so you can rock the low waist trend this summer! See for yourself her beautiful version, very Gatsby and Roaring 20’s fabulosity if you ask me!

Hi, I’m Betsy from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns. I am happy to meet and work with Pauline Alice. Sewing Indie month has brought us together and I am thrilled to have found her patterns that are classic, feminine- oh yeah, and a breeze to sew together!

I make petite patterns, for women 5’4” and under. Believe it or not, 70% of the female population is actually petite in torso length, leg length, or both. It is easy to make petite pattern alterations and Pauline Alice was a good sport about letting me make a petite version of her Malvarosa Dress.

I am always drawn to drop-waist dresses. Maybe I was a tall, 1920’s Flapper in a previous life, sporting the chic elongated looks that hit gracefully at the hip level. Well, in this lifetime, Flapper I am not with my 5 ft 1″/1.55m petite stature. Waistlines that hit below the natural waist tend to be hard to pull of for petites- it takes the right proportions.

The Malvarosa dress had me hook, line, and sinker. I knew I had to make it, as it is a silhouette that I gravitate towards lately and also an easy style to modify for petites. With the right heels I could pull it off as is, but I like my flats and needed to make some petite modifications.

I always start out with a muslin to get a baseline idea of what changes I may need to make. I made up the first version as per Pauline’s original dress. It turned out really cute, but a touch too long for me. So then I made the second muslin with the following alterations:
  • I shortened the bottom skirt 3″/7,5cm. Since drop waists elongate the torso my philosophy is that it is best for petites to keep the hem above the knee so short legs don’t look shorter.
    (I went a little too short on the 2nd muslin and it was a full on show when I bent over- whoa!). Revised the skirt again and only reduced 2”/5cm in length which was a bit more modest.
  • Then I reduced the bodice length 1″/2.5 cm at the armhole, both front and back to bring the armhole up.
  • I shortened the midsection of the bodice 1/2″/1,25 cm.
  • The sleeves were a touch too long for my narrow shoulders so I shaved off 1/4″/3mm.
  • Now this one is just personal preference, but I raised the neckline 1/4″/3mm in the front and reduced the total neck width 1/2″/1,25cm. For me this kept the proportions of the Malvarosa same as the original, but just a bit smaller.
Alright, enough with the muslins! I cut into a printed silk that I picked up in Paris and have been saving for the perfect project, such as this.  The Malvarosa dress is a great style for trim and embellishment, so I did a little beading and lace at the neck and lace at the waist seam. Voila! I have a new summer dress that I can’t wait to wear!
Regardless of your height this is an easy to sew summer dress that you can whip up in no time! If you are a taller gal and worried that the regular length will be short, you can use the same modifications as illustrated, just in reverse by adding instead of reducing. 
Thanks so much for this tutorial Betsy! You look absolutely gorgeous in your Malvarosa dress (definitely going for that flapper style!) and you’ve given us great advices on how to alter a simple pattern for Petites.
Be sure to check Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns for amazing patterns especially for petite frames (I have my eyes on the Manhattan trousers, they look so smart!)



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Mayda Villar (4 en la Carretera) 12 May, 2014 - 9:08 am

Woaaaa!!! Esto me viene genial! Hoy empiezo a coser mi vestido Malvarrosa y mido 1,60 m! :)))

Pauline Alice 13 May, 2014 - 7:06 am

Me alegro! Betsy ha hecho un toturial de lujo…

Sewing Princess 12 May, 2014 - 10:09 am

I also loved their name! thanks for this tutorial. Can I use the same tips for Cami?

Pauline Alice 13 May, 2014 - 7:10 am

Hi Silvia! The Camí dress has a high waistline so I don't think you need to do that. You should make a toile of the bodice and at least one sleeve to check the fit but I think the regular sizes will fit you correctly with the darts shaping and the high waist. Let me know how it goes.

Madalynne 12 May, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Great tutorial, Betsy! I hope to make a Malvarosa dress this year and will be referring to your how-to when the time comes. Hope all is well!

Pauline Alice 13 May, 2014 - 7:12 am

I'm sure this tutorial will be perfect for your slim frame! Can't wait to see your dress…

Sonia Fonseca 12 May, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Pauline me parece genial este gran tutorial para las petits!!.
Yo me considero normal de estatura..mideo 1,65 cm….!!…
Genial explicado y muy necesario..creo!!.
Besitos guapa

Pauline Alice 13 May, 2014 - 7:14 am

El tuyo te quedaba perfecto Sonia! Es que eres alta (pues si, 1,65 es alto para mi, jeje).
Un besito

SkinnyBCurvyC 13 May, 2014 - 1:32 am

Thanks for letting me make your dress petite Pauline! I love it and will definitely be wearing it this summer…a lot!

Pauline Alice 13 May, 2014 - 7:15 am

Thanks to you for this great tutorial Betsy! It's absolutely perfect and your dress is so pretty!

velosewer 14 May, 2014 - 6:23 am

These changes are so simple and they work so well.

facutinsufragerie 14 May, 2014 - 6:36 am

Thanks for the tutorial! I make similar alterations to the patterns I use, but I wouldn't have thought of shortening a cap sleeve. I can see the difference in Betsy's dresses, 3mm really matter! ?

Geri 5 January, 2018 - 3:13 am

I made the petite adjustments as recommended but I also found the darts needed to be lowered as well.

Julie 12 February, 2018 - 2:01 pm

Hello I am a relatively new sewer I love your pattern and have been successful with two of them already thanks to your wonderful instructions but ….. help! Pleas e the Malverosa I can not fit the sleeves have tried so many times I hope you can help as I love this pattern kind regards

Pauline Alice 13 February, 2018 - 12:01 pm

Hi Julie, you should read this post, it might help you with the angled sleeve of the Malvarosa dress: https://www.paulinealice.com/tutorial-how-to-sew-right-angle-sea/
Best regards,



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