Made by Me!

Monday, 15 December 2014

'Famous Frocks - The Little Black Dress' - A New Sewing Book For the Party Season!

If you have read this blog for a while then you will know that I love a good sewing book - well who doesn't really right!? So when I was looking online for Christmassy presents for family I came across this book by Dolin Bliss O'Shea - 'Famous Frocks - The Little Black Dress'. I thought a little present for myself cant hurt can it??

The book walks you through making frocks inspired by famous icons - Coco Chanel, Ava Gardner and Kate Moss to name a few. I love the idea of the book. Before each pattern the author quotes the actress featured, gives a little bit of history about the person who wore the dress and what era it was from. You then get the copy of the dress and a variation of the dress to try as well. So in all there are 20 patterns in this book which makes it a bargain buy at £10 - which is what its currently priced on Amazon at the moment. There is also the obligatory instruction manual at the start to reference sewing terms etc.... and it covers a reasonable amount - although in all honesty it covers what most other books do so if you already own another garment pattern book from say Tilly, Colette Patterns or Gertie then the likelihood is that this information will be replicated in both.

There are some items in the book that I don't like or wont make up but that is what happens with most of my books - you either dont like all the patterns or some items wont suit your style or shape. So its pick, choose and modify to make them work. The one thing that does work against this book - and this has been said about the first book in this series - is that it really does rely on the owner wanting several different styles in their wardrobe - so dressing as Kate Moss from the 1990's or Audrey Heburn from the 1950's. Not everyone has a wide ranging style base so it may not appeal to everyone but I like being able to pick and choose from different era's.

In general the variations are very easy or boring and don't appear to have been given much thought. A number of them are a skirt made from a dress or a top made by taking the bodice from a dress - the two skirt variations are shown below.

They lack imagination to me and I think Dolin misses a trick here. But there are some nice ones which I have noted below. I just feel that most of the variations bring it down to a real novice sewing pattern book and I think this book actually lends itself to being more advanced. Or at least it would be better in my opinion if it had been aimed at that market. I do realise however that books aimed at beginners are more likely to sell. It just seems the market is saturated with them right now.

In general the book is a lovely glossy purchase and I am glad I can add it to my collection. I would like to think I can motivate myself to make a dress for the New Year celebrations from here... Lets see what Dolin has to offer us to party the night away in!

One of my favourite patterns from the book is the Audrey Hepburn black dress from Sabrina. I think I prefer the pencil skirt variation rather than the original full skirt but its more to do with my personal style than the look of the dress.

I like the simplicity of the Coco Chanel dress although I am not sure whether I would just look frumpy if I wore this.

My favourite dress by far is the Joan Crawford dress with its sequinned mid section. I think I will be making this one up for sure, although most likely in a more colourful fabric than black. Maybe this should be my New Year creation!?

The Liza Minelli and Mary Quant variations are nicer than the originals in my opinion. The 60's Mary Quant dress isn't really for me and I thought the main dress didn't look that nicely put together. 

The Liza Minella wrap dress was nice but I prefered it with sleeves. I don't like the ghastly green jersey fabric in the variation pattern but you can see past that.

The Angelica Houston dress is too boxy for me but the top variation is something I could see making up. It is a pretty basic top with a slight cowl neck. I can see this being a useful staple with jeans and a jumper during the winter months. It reminds me of the Colette Patterns Mrytle dress top.

I do like the Kate Moss dress but honestly I can't see myself wearing this. My stomach isn't flat enough!! It is cute though and a few years ago I would have given it a go.

The one for me that most lacks any imagination is the Princess Diana dress. Its just a simple sheath dress. Not only that but they have the model dressed up in an awful blonde wig which looks like it was purchased from a pound shop.... The variation is a bit boring, a button back top which looks like a lot of other patterns out there at the moment. I really think Diana wore loads of more interesting dresses than this. Admittedly this was a staple shape but its so dull and  been done a million times before.

Overall I really like the book and would recommend it. I would like to see whether other people have bought and made up anything from this book. Does this sneak peak inside make you want to buy it and try something out or does it make you think that it's not for you? Anything catch your attention? It would be lovely to hear your thoughts....Happy sewing!


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  2. Nice one like all your ladies tops especially on skirts really look nice

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