Behind the Seams: The Jason Wu 吳季剛 Bow Dress

It’s the 4th of July week and for The Sew Weekly Challenge, we are working on pieces inspired by an American fashion designer. To make selection easier for myself since I am not really familiar with most designers on the list, I went straight for the shorter list of designers of Asian descent. But, the list wasn’t comprehensive. Later through google search, I discovered a couple of amazing talents such as Prabal Gurung and Thakoon. They simply wowed me!

I’m inspired by Prabal Gurung’s bold use of colors and prints in his collection, the most recent being his Resorts collection.

And Thakoon’s use of Asian motifs and prints in his collections. Seen below is Thakoon for Target collection.

I have also been feeling guilty not working on patterns from the Twinkle Sews book I have.  But, what deterred me was the potential waste of paper since the patterns, unlike conventional ones are not printed in half (and cut on fold) but printed as an entire piece and my printer’s low ink levels. I need to get those ink cartridges replaced!  If I were to sew a dress from the book, it would have been the Next Big Thing Dress.

In the end, I chose something wearable on the daily basis, the bow dress inspired by Taiwan-born American designer Jason Wu. Wu and his use of edgy, modern, prints on vintage styles was what inspired me.

I was even more inspired when I found an edgy, nearly forgotten criss-cross border print and a bow dress pattern in my stash and was convinced that they can be combined to create a Wu inspired piece.

The Pattern

It’s official! The 1940s has to be my favorite fashion era! I have not done many outfits from the decade but am convinced by the few patterns (my other fave is this dress) that I have attempted. I’m totally utterly in love with this Bow Dress pattern which a seamstress, probably its first owner, bought on 30 September 1943. It also happens to be my second vintage pattern contribution to the Vintage Pattern wiki.

Like last week’s pattern, this is from the Advance pattern company and I was skeptical if the fit would be good as I had to make quite a bit for adjustment for that outfit. However, the fit for this dress turned out just nice, which was phew! great! Instructions are very detailed and clear. The bow is tied onto the dress’s otherwise cowl neckline as a separate piece! How cool is that:)

The Gallery

I took most of my photos at a hotel’s courtyard this week for TSW post here. And, oh boy, it was the first time I was told photography wasn’t allowed since I started taking photos out of the comforts of my home this January. I am so not going back to that hotel. So, the photos with the reflective glass background were taken at a separate location. I took about 15 photos in total before heading back to the air-conditioned area as it was piping hot on the day of the shoot. I had to use my photo editor later to adjust the colors so that the fabric looked closer to what it does in real life. Mainly, the navy blue patch of the yoke wasn’t coming through as they should in some photos. Now, it’s looking nearly as vibrant as the actual dress :)




I really enjoyed sewing this dress and I think it’s always fun sewing with a border print and a unique fabric. The next few weeks leading up to my family vacation is gonna be crazy as i have a whole list of errands to run and a few more outfits to sew! For my last few MMJ posts, I may just schedule them for later, most probably during my vacation as I will bring you on a little virtual sightseeing in Singapore :)

Have a happy sewing week everyone!

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17 thoughts on “Behind the Seams: The Jason Wu 吳季剛 Bow Dress

  1. I commented on your Sew Weekly post but forgot to ask something…..Where did you get your shoes from?! I love them!! So pretty!

  2. I used to wonder why the 40’s patterns are such a favourite then after attempting one dress and one from the 50’s, i began to see the difference and understand why. it is so true the 40’s conservative but still flattering style is so wearable today and that the fabric saving is such a plus point! i love this dress of yours, and that the bowtie is a little lower on the neckline makes it pretty and a less “stifling” look. beautiful print too! :) really pretty!!

  3. That dress turned out wonderfully! The mid-30s to the mid-40s is definitely my favourite fashion decade for women. Simple mostly utilitarian lines, but beautiful and feminine details, and modest without looking uptight.

  4. @ Little Betty: Thank you! I’m so sorry but I can’t recall. i think it was online. I usually shop fabric.com, etsy/ ebay or emmaonesocks but couldn’t find it listed so I’m clueless.

    @Montanachic: Thank you so much:)

  5. @Fiona: Thanks dear, the v-neckline does make the dress a little more flattering and less stifling indeed:) I agree, the 40s are so wearable and yes fabric savings cos it was the war/ post-war period so fabric was less abundant and I guess more costly so fashion was skewed towards being practical but still feminine:)

    @Emma: Thank you! I have got to check out the mid 30s style too:)

  6. Fantastic fabric and dress, I love the convertible cowl / bow idea! Go on, please name the miserable hotel that wouldn’t let you take photos!

  7. What a lovely dress and so beautiful on you! (Cute shoes too!)

    Would mind posting the back of the pattern envelope and/or instructions so we can see how that fascinating cowl is constructed?

  8. Pingback: Your favorite dress and my 2011 sewing targets | The Sew Convert

  9. Pingback: My Mood in August: Just Add a Bow | Sew Well

  10. I LOVE this dress! What a beautiful fabric, such a great choice of pattern, and you have the skills to pull it off. Fantastic job.

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