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1959 Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress

McCalls 1959 vintage cotton dress

Well, I’m a day late to my own party with this dress. But I think I have a pretty good reason. You see, I sat down to write this post, showing pictures of my Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress (for my final contribution to my Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong), on the day after Thanksgiving. I found a quiet corner amidst the chaos of a house very full of family.  And then Adam asked if he and I could get a bit of alone time together, maybe go out for a cup of tea, because I had been in the kitchen cooking for two days straight (one day to bake 5 pies, one day to cook our Thanksgiving meal), and he thought a spot of fresh air away from the chaos would be good for both of us. Apparently, the offer of tea was just a ploy, as he took me to the historic Santa Barbara courthouse, the place where he first told me he loved me, and he asked me to marry him!

McCalls 1959 Dress 4965

I planned to make this dress as an homage to family and history. The pattern is from 1959, the year that my mom was born. I thought it would be fitting for the first time that I hosted a very large Thanksgiving (with all of Adam’s family). I had originally intended for it to be just a blouse, made from fabric that I found at a flea market in Guernville, CA (where I took pictures of my Anna dress and found artwork for our home). But when I finished sewing the blouse, I realized that I didn’t have a single skirt to wear it with. Since I was running out of time (rapidly!), I opted to turn it back into a dress.

pima cotton self fabric beltThe blouse fabric is a lovely, drapey, vintage brushed cotton. I barely eked this blouse out of what I had (although I did end up cutting of a few inches when I turned it back into a dress). The green contrast is a pima cotton. It was crisper than I wanted for the bow, but it was the only thing I could find that matched the blouse coloring perfectly. The skirt is a quilting kona cotton. Again, not totally ideal, but the color matched well. I made the belt (in the car ride down to Santa Barbara!). I will be remaking it soon as the only buckle I had was silver in color while the grommets (and dress tones) are gold. Also, I think this dress will look a lot better on me with a wider belt. I need more waist definition.

vintage brown floral bow neck dress bodiceThe pattern envelope shows the contrast collar tied in a knot, although I found I liked it either in knot or bow. The sleeves are supposed to be faced, but I added a little cuff to bring more of the green contrast into the design. As I said, I barely eked the top out of the fabric that I had, so pattern matching wasn’t an option, but I don’t think it’s too distracting that the pattern doesn’t meet perfectly at center front, right? My collar tie also stands up much more than the pattern illustration. I’m not sure if this is because my shoulders pull the top into a shape that makes the collar stand, because the pima cotton is too stiff, or because the illustration doesn’t perfectly reflect the actual pattern (or some combination thereof).

McCalls 1950's vintage dress

It was quite an experience making a Thanksgiving dinner for 13 in a rental vacation home with an oddly stocked kitchen. Fortunately, Adam’s parents lived close by so we could call and ask for emergency deliveries of missing items! I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t have procured a food processor! All in all, Thanksgiving was a smashing success, with great food, great family, great memories, and oh-my-goodness my engagement!!

SeamstressErin Thanksiving 2013

Comments 25

  1. Congratulations, Erin! Making plans for a bow neck wedding dress? I could easily picture a silk and lace version of your Thanksgiving dress!

  2. Congratulations on your engagement! What a wonderful surprise!

    The dress really looks great. I like the color combo a lot, though I know what you’re saying about not working with idea fabrics.

  3. Congratulations on your engagement and on a month filled with bow neck goodness! Now you have a new thing to call Adam – fiancée. Much more appropriate! Wishing you both a lifetime of happy togetherness.

  4. That is a very cute, very retro top, Erin. And CONGRATS!!!!! How exciting!!!!! I can’t wait to hear more about the wedding & dress plans. :)

  5. Congratulations! I’m sure you’re on cloud nine right now. Enjoy these fun days living in the bliss of foreverdom. I really like that courthouse, too. My husband took me there when we were first dating, and I have really fond memories of making giant shadow animals against the side of it thanks to the bright lights it has. I’m glad to know it has a special place in your hearts as well!

  6. The dress turned out fantastic. I love the photo of you in the kitchen with your wine, Very 1950’s housewife. Congratulations on the engagement

  7. Congrats on your engagement! How exciting! You look fabulous in that dress and the color combination is perfect even if the fabrics aren’t quite the right weight.

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