Pigeonhole Coffee Dress

This piece of fabric has been lurking in the cupboard since 2011 on my first visit to Melbourne’s Tessuti. I fell in love with the bold design and imagined a simple but striking dress. But when I considered sewing patterns for it, they were all too fussy or uber-shapeless.This fabric had it’s name “Copenhagen” in the selvedge – another plus for me as I loved the city both times I visited and it reminded me of bold Danish design. This year a goal is to use more of my ‘special’ fabric and enjoy wearing it.

Pigeonhole Coffee Dress

While I was pondering it, I decided to define where and when I would wear it – definitely a weekend or casual dress, somewhere I would like to be dressed well. Pigeonhole Cafe is where we start our Saturdays (and many other days if truth be told). And this is the perfect dress for the mood and place in my mind. Hey, people make dresses for one off events, I made one for every week.

Pigeonhole Coffee Dress
So, to the dress. I googled “Apron Dress” for inspiration and came up with some ideas for wrap around styles. I realised many were shapeless, other than the pulling in from waist ties. This fabric is like a cotton duck – quite thick, but soft. I dug out the Alma blouse pattern for a semi-fitted bodice and based my dress on that. ¬†I made a muslin, which let me know the curves around to the back needed to be much higher, starting only a few centimetres under the armhole. I basically traced around the Sewaholic Alma blouse pattern for front and back and made the following changes:

  • Shortened shoulder length by 15mm as I wanted it as a sleeveless dress – ideal for wearing with a merino LS top in winter.
  • Added some seam detail to the back – initially to make the most of my fabric, but essential for shaping more in this stiff fabric. I took out a curved horizontal wedge (3cm at widest point) about 5cm above my waist. I think this would be needed by people who normally do a swayback adjustment dur to the ties sitting below the waist making the fabric bunch¬†weirdly.
  • Drew a freehand curve just under the notch at the top of the side seam on front and back, swooping out to the centre back. I think it was still above the waist marking on the pattern, but you can see how it curves down when worn, giving a nice jagged hem. I used just under the full width of the fabric.
  • Added two single-welt pockets. I placed these on the pattern by holding it up to me and marking with a texta. We won’t talk about how I unpicked one several times before I got it right.
  • Sewed in ‘Alma order’ except I didn’t need a side zip, and sewed the ties into the side seam. Bias binding on the neckline and armholes. The sides of the dress are stitched together rather than being fully separate like some options I saw online.
The flat dress:

Pigeonhole Coffee Dress

Pigeonhole Coffee Dress



I was so happy with my as yet unblogged Green Tiramisu dress that I made another one over the Christmas Break. In the middle of the year I found some great striped jersey at Spotlight, and bought a metre or so of each of four variations to encourage them to stock more nice knits. Which meant I didn’t have enough for a stripy Tira until I thought to combine two of the same colour way. So from two and a half metres I made a 3/4 sleeve Renfrew and a slightly shorter than designed Tiramisu.


Matching up the stripes became a lot easier once I called some 5mm wide fusible webbing into action to stick the edges together and then overlock/serge.


During and after the first make I tweaked the pattern a bit – reduced bodice length, narrowed the midriff.

For this make I also made it a bit shorter – above the knee to fit it on the fabric I had available. The less drape fabric makes it stand away from the body more in the skirt than my other drape version. Both work well, so I have a long sleeved grey or blue merino version in my sights for winter.

The only change I would make next time with a striped version would be to make sure the stripes inside the pocket are going in the same direction as the outer fabric – straight down the side seam. If you are stabilising the seam allowances here anyhow you don’t need to worry about stretching.

Seriously an easy to make, and even easier to wear dress. If you don’t already have this pattern head to http://sewingcake.com and make an investment! StephC has done a great job. Definitely re-make-able.



Kicking off 2013

The end of 2012 was a bit quiet on the blogging front – what energy I had was poured into work during the day and then sewing in the evenings to keep me sane. Despite a ruptured Baker’s cyst (ouch!) in my sewing-foot-pedal-leg, I bravely soldiered on and made some favourite things. In hindsight I should have ignored the doctor’s (lack of) advice and rested a lot more :-/

My green Tiramisu was my go-to Christmas dress – comfortable, fab colour and too easy to wear. The fabric came from TJ in a surprise parcel in the One Cool Thing, One Strange Thing swap. I like to think of this as my sewing blogger dress. I’ve since made Tira#2 using two sorts of stripes. More Photos to come once I get them both clean and ironed at the same time.
Eight Pieces of the best kind of Cake!

A highlight of October’s trip to Melbourne was meeting up with TJ in person at Latrobe Uni when I was there for work. Some great tips from her about Darn Cheap Fabrics led to another super useful dress – the black and white dots for NL6097 which my husband said was ‘a bit airline hostess’, little does he know this is a specific, valid genre in the sewing blogosphere. See Scruffy Badger’s NL6000 Frock Fest for evidence.

On Christmas Eve I rustled up some ickle bodysuits for the tiniest niece. I used both Lumi Inkodye printing, and some fabric-specific Sharpies for a bird and an elephant on some simple white cotton. Maybe one day I will learn to take a photo before gifting things.

2012 in review
The highlights:
Connecting with fabulous sewing bloggers and making some super useful, comfortable, fun and Kirsty-like clothing. And some sewing for my favourite people too – husband, son and tiniest niece all got a look in. And starting my collection of vintage Elnas. I need to do a separate update post on that front thanks to a birthday surprise.

Top patterns:
These would have to be Renfrews (merino versions saved my life during winter in the iceblock they call our work building), Cambies (for work, I’ve swiped SewSquirrel’s moniker of “Corporate Cambie” for my grey A-line version; my elephant version takes itself less seriously), Almas (a simple solution to work tops in late Spring), Thurlows (only one pair so far but Dressember distracted me, I’m wearing them today, Hello? no muslin needed!), Crescent skirts are weekend staples. Minoru Jacket – If only it would rain then I could wear it more. Seriously, I had been holding off on buying the latest Cordova Jacket and Hollyburn skirt patterns but have just placed my order. It’s silly to resist.

Fave Fabric:
all of it? Erm, 2012 could perhaps be dubbed the year of stash building. I spent a day after Christmas getting my fabric cupboard(s) in order. I *think* I have enough to keep me going for a while. My collection of elephant prints is growing :-)

Part of the stash

I made a dress in the week before Christmas and it’s too meh to wear. It’s the wrong combo of neckline, lack of waist definition, wrong fabric choice and was annoying to make. So it will go off to the charity bin and perhaps find a home that appreciates it more. The pattern will go in the giveaway pile methinks.

Plans for 2013?
I’ve thought about some sewing goals, and I’m not quite ready to commit to anything major, other than a freeze on fabric buying for January and then I will reassess. Notions, thread etc are OK to get a project finished. I have a wee pile of various linings already, but probably not enough zips.

Year of the Belt
The Almas reminded me that I used to wear belts a lot. And that I feel far more dressed when I do wear one. So 2013 will be the Year of the Belt. I’d like to make a leather one or two, some more self fabric ones. That’s enough of a goal.

What I learnt in 2012
In spring I thought I’d be clever and cut out a big batch of projects – some baby jumpsuits for the tiniest niece, Thurlow trousers, underpants, two shirts for Zac and something else which I can’t remember. And you know what? Rather than feeling all empowered and ready to sew, it nagged me. They loitered in the cupboard and on the sewing table and glowered at me “we’re not finished, we’re not started” and it really annoyed the beejeezus out of me. What has worked best in planning my sewing has been playing in my fabric cupboard and lining up patterns and fabric for a mini wardrobe or sewing sprint. That worked really well in Autumn/Winter and I made most of the planned ideas. So that is what I might do tonight. Or I might not. I cut out a shirt this morning before work…