Sewing Adventures – Malvarosa Dress

By Susan | Comments: 14 | June 16, 2014

I hope everyone has had a good weekend? The highlight of my weekend was my attempt to cut my own fringe. It was getting a bit long and needed a trim. Turns out cutting hair is nothing like cutting fabric and I was in rapid danger of losing all my hair in trying to straighten up the original mess. So in a stroke of genius I stuck a piece of washi tape across the bottom of my fringe and then neatly trimmed to it’s edge. Unconventional yes but in a crisis, it worked.

In other weekend matters I managed some sewing and made 4 kinds of soup so my freezer is now nicely restocked. Most of my sewing is of the pattern testing kind so I can’t share it all yet so instead I’m sharing my Malvarosa dress.

This dress was made all the way back at the beginning of the year and has been waiting to be blogged until I got some decent photos of it. I wore it to our first Sydney Spoolettes meet up. Thanks to When All you Need is for the photo.


It appears however that my hate of getting my photo taken does quite clearly result in terrible photos.


These are the best of all the ones taken, 3 different locations and just all blah. I really dislike being in front of the camera. So while the photos are a fail, the dress however is quite the success. I’ve worn it a few times and while there are some minor tweaks I will do if making it again I’m pretty happy with this version.

From the original pattern I made some changes

  • shortened the dress through the body

It was just too long for my torso. So I took out some of the length. From bust up I left it alone and only took out from lower chest to hip. I took it out in 2 sections as I took out around 12cm to 15cm in length.

  • shortened the length of the skirt

Even with shortening the torso it was still too long so I took at least an additional 10cm out of the skirt length. It was possibly more as I can’t quite remember if I re cut the hem before finally stitching it in place.

  • added a centre back seam

I was working with vintage fabric and there was no other way I could fit the pattern on the meterage I had. In future I think I will do this anyway as I have a slight pooling of fabric at my lower back and the centre back seam could be nipped in just at the base which would eliminate this pooling.

  • blocked in the neckline to narrow the opening

Even on my wideish shoulders I found the neckline just too open. I added in 4cm to each side and then reshaped that back into the original neckline.

  • lined the bodice instead of using the facings.

The pattern called for a neck facing and a sleeve facing. they would have overlapped under the shoulder seam and I thought it would look bulky and messy. So instead using a lightweight voile I cut an entire front and back and did a fully bagged out lining for the entire upper half. Is incredibly clean finish, adds a nice shape to the body of the garment and means zero handstitching too.

  • added width to the skirt.

I was using vintage fabric and if I had cut the required skirt width I would’ve been left with only 10cm leftover fabric. Instead I decided to make the skirt a bit wider so I could use more of the vintage fabric.


Now to be fair most of these were due to me being just on 150cm tall (5 foot) so I had height issues to deal with, and because I was using a narrow width vintage fabric. So not everyone is going to need to make these changes. But I would certainly be checking the length before cutting any fabric as it seemed overly generous in length.

Overall it’s very very comfortable and easy to wear. The pockets in the drop waist seam are fantastic and really useful. I’m looking forward to making some cotton versions for next summer and am considering a winter weight version too?

Day 26Pattern: Pauline Alice Malvarosa

Fabric: Cotton pique purchased at Gardems in Brisbane during my first year of fashion college (and yes it’s old enough to be classed as vintage now..eek)

Shoes: Marc Jacobs suede booties



  • Michelle
    June 16, 2014

    Oh my gosh! I used to love going to Gardams in Brisbane city with my mum! We had a Gardams in Townsville too, where I grew up. I remember a very beautiful water wave taffeta in scarlet red that we bought so mum could make my year 12 formal dress!

    I love you in the Malvarosa. I think a winter version worn as a jumper/pinny would be pretty smashing!

    • Susan Goodwin
      June 16, 2014

      aw thank you! I must say I do love the Malvarosa’s loose style, makes it very comfortable.

      Do you remember how Gardem’s used to wrap your purchases in paper and then tie it with a string that became the carrying handle? I used to love seeing them do that. Made the purchase seem even more precious.

  • Melanie
    June 17, 2014

    This dress is so lovely – I love the bright fabric (and your photos look great…so there)!

    • Susan Goodwin
      June 17, 2014

      Thanks! I’m so not used to being in front of the camera, am normally the one behind it or making sure the model has no fluff or creases before the shot.
      I do however love the fabric of this dress, am so glad I saved it for something special that can also be worn everyday!

  • Emma
    June 17, 2014

    Ah another pattern i would love to make! Yours looks great, love the photo shoot location too.

    • Susan Goodwin
      June 17, 2014

      Location is my rooftop, one day will see if I can get some shots in the other direction with the harbour behind me. I may live in a teeny tiny apartment but that rooftop helps.

      This is such a comfortable pattern as it’s loose without being a sack. So good.

  • Kirsty
    June 19, 2014

    I’m such a fan of the Malvorosa dress. We should both make a winter pinny version.

    • Susan Goodwin
      June 19, 2014

      yes! we should do that, pinny’s would be great

  • Fashionista
    June 20, 2014

    Wow. Gardems. That has just brought a whole lot of memories bubbling to the surface! In the depths of my stash I have some pieces of silk that I bought off the remanent table in the Townsville store in 1988. Every time I fondle them I remember the day I bought them, who I was with (a sewing colleague), why I was in Townsville (we had both been invited to show at some sort of design show, details of that haven’t bubbled to the surface). Lots of my friends had wedding dresses from Gardems. So many acres of taffeta ……

    • Fashionista
      June 20, 2014

      PS. Your frock is lovely, such a happy colour.

      • Susan Goodwin
        June 20, 2014

        Thank you! I do enjoy wearing bright colours

    • Susan Goodwin
      June 20, 2014

      Am so glad to trigger good memories of fabrics. It was a magical kind of store, I remember wanting a piece of fabric from there for fashion college but my budget didn’t quite stretch that far. So instead of buying groceries that week I went to my brothers house and ate there each night and on Saturday I had enough money saved to go buy my fabric.

  • Catherine
    June 28, 2014

    lovely! i really did like your dress when i saw it at the spoolettes lunch. but the fabric! ah so pretty!

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Hi, I'm Susan. A designer living in Sydney, Australia.

Here I share tales of my sewing, my pattern collection and insights into what it's like to work as a professional fashion designer.

Other recurring themes include cat photos and an ever changing hair style.



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