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


8 thoughts on “Pigeonhole Coffee Dress

  1. Oh, I really love this!! The fabric is really beautiful and interesting, such a cool print. And the dress you’ve designed for it is so funky and arty. Basically I love everything about it!

    • Thanks! It was so exciting to see it come together better than I imagined or hoped. I wore it yesterday when I was in Melbourne and it really suited my mood – sometimes I feel like a badly wrapped parcel when in the big smoke :-/

    • Thank you! I find wearing an apron really comfortable – I think it is the feeling of being ready for doing things around the house and garden so it’s nice to channel that ready-for-anything into a wear in public dress :-)

    • We’ll have to go to Pigeonhole together to test it out! Thanks Mum. PS Robin did a great job with these photos didn’t he?

  2. Oh that’s awesome-you’ve made so many changes and it fits very well. I’ve made a couple of things recently with ‘nice’ fabrics and they were all bloopers unfortunately XD.

    • Oh no, so sad when the garment doesn’t live up to your expectations of the fabric. I was super pleased with the fit in the final version.