Book Report: Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress (+ Giveaway!)

Hello, friends! Hope you’re all having a great week!

Today I have a book review to share with you! Chronicle Books sent me a copy of Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress. The book features 10 patterns to help you recreate iconic LBDs from the 1930s to the 2000s, and 10 variations on these patterns that are shown in colors or prints to help you imagine these dresses in another setting. I’m not really into historical or vintage sewing, but I thought some of you might like to see the book, so I agreed to check it out. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dresses, for the most part, aren’t too costume-y!

Coco Chanel-inspired

Coco variation

The author is Dolin Bliss O’Shea, a technical designer and patternmaker. To  be honest, I’m often leery of the patterns in books like this- they just don’t always seem to work- but knowing the author’s background and qualifications makes me much more comfortable.

Joan Crawford-inspired… I really like the waist inset. Pretty!

The designs are inspired by Coco Chanel, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Mary Quant, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, Princess Diana, and Kate Moss… a few of the usual suspects, but a few that are a bit off the beaten path. It would have been nice to have some diversity in the lineup, though.

Ava Gardner-inspired

Ava variation

The sizing in the book runs from 33″-25″-36″ (XS) to 45″-37″-48″ (XL). The patterns are printed on lightweight paper, about the weight of newsprint, and they’re double-sided so they need to be traced. But they’re crazy messes to trace like Japanese sewing books or Burda magazines… I sometimes buy those, and never work up the energy to trace them!

Audrey Hepburn-inspired

Audrey variation

I’m a little bit mean, and I snickered a tad at the wigs the models wear to look more like their inspirations. I found them a tiny bit distracting, but I’m childish and silly. 🙂

Grace Kelly-inspired. I really, really like the lines of this, especially with the sheer fabric at the shoulders.

I bet that folks who like sewing dresses would enjoy this book. There’s a lot of bang for your buck, since the MSRP is 30USD and you get so many patterns. And they’re actually all really wearable. Also, the bodices and skirts for the Joan, Audrey, Ava, and Grace dresses are interchangeable for even more versatility. Sadly, I probably won’t do too much sewing from the book as I’m in a self-imposed dress ban at the moment. My closet is packed full of dresses, but I only have a few tops and they’re all pretty grungy, so I’m making it an effort to make tops instead of dresses for the foreseeable future! Turns out you CAN have too many dresses! 😮

Mary Quant-inspired

Now, the good part! I have an extra copy to give away! If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, please enter your name and email into the survey below (it’s just gotten too crazy trying to figure out email addresses from comments… this way there’s no room for error!). I’ll close the giveaway on Wednesday, October 22nd at 9PM EST and choose a winner with a random number generator. Yay!

Liza Minnelli-inspired

Liza variation

Alright, guys, what is your ideal little black dress? Have you made one? Are there any historical dresses or outfits that you’d love to recreate?