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low waistline

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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Here it is, the new pattern: the Malvarosa dress!
After a fitted 50’s inspired dress, I wanted to recreate the style of another decade I love: the 60’s.


This babydoll dress is all about volume, fun and comfort without compromise on great style.
Version A has small drop shoulders, perfect for summer or for parties!
The pattern features a low waistline with A-line bodice, a gathered skirt with hidden pockets, bust darts and boat neckline.


For a dramatic result, use a fabric with a lot of body like this black and white cotton canvas (with Eiffel Tower, french poodles and the typical french policeman on bike, how cute!) or a taffeta or brocade, so that the dress will stay open, away from your body.


Version B has elbow length sleeves attached to the drop shoulders. I made this version with a beautiful cotton fabric from designer Anna Maria Horner from Telaria online shop.
One of my favourite features on this pattern are the pockets hidden in the skirts gathers. You don’t even notice they are here until you put your hands in them. And I don’t know about you, but pockets are definitely a must for me!


As you can see, the pattern is quite simple, it’s recommended for a beginner seamstress. There is no fastener of any kind (no zipper or buttons), just pull through like a t-shirt.
The shape is loose so fitting is not too complicated either.
The Malvarosa pattern is a great project for a beginner seamstress who is looking for an dress easy to accessorize and make in a lot of different fabrics (think heavy brocade for a party, chambray or cotton for summer, wool for winter, or even lace for a wedding…).


Feel like making a Malvarosa dress? Buy the pattern here!


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