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Famous Frocks: Contest!

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Today's book review is a little different from our usual review. I'm not featuring a knitting book but a sewing book - the beautiful Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress by friend of Hazel Knits, Dolin Bliss O'Shea (published by Chronicle Books with photography by Daniel Castro).

I know many of you are bi-craftual or even multi-craftual (smartypants!) so if you are a sewer, interested in sewing or just love vintage clothing you should check this book out. Dolin looks at 10 influential Little Black Dresses (LBD) and reinterprets them to come up with 20 garments that would look at home in most wardrobes.

I'm not a sewer myself (yet!) so have a look at this short video summary of the book for more details or visit Dolin's website,

Dolin is also a knitwear designer, so be sure to check out her patterns on Ravelry. She has some very cute scarves!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dolin and here's what she had to say:

HK - Let's start with the basics, in addition to your new book Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress, you have also published several knitting patterns. When did you learn to sew and knit and who taught you?

DO - I grew up watching my mom sew, knit and crochet. For some reason, I only learned how to crochet from her. I learned to sew, right after high school, when I went away to college to study fashion design. There were many late nights and a lot of tears that first year at my sewing machine. In my early 20's I taught myself how to knit from a 1940's home economics book (with very few pictures). I collect vintage craft books, so I have taught myself all sorts of sewing, knitting and crochet techniques from them. I didn't knit much until my 30's, when found out I had been knitting incorrectly all those years, I was twisting my stitches and didn't even know it. When I finally started making my knit stitches correctly, boy that was an eye-opener, it became so much easier and enjoyable.

HK - Famous Frocks is a wonderful look back at vintage designs. Did your love of vintage clothing come from a love of old movies? Is there an era of clothing that you love in particular?

DO - I have always felt I was born in the wrong era, the 1970's, which isn't my favorite era for clothing or movies. I have always been drawn to clothing and movies from the 1920's through to the 1960's. If I had to pick one era it would be the 1920's, the beautiful clothing so reflected what was happening in that era. Women were freed from corsets and got the right to vote... I would have done the Charleston in my little flapper dress too.

HK - The Little Black dress is a staple for so many wardrobes, I currently have five in my own, what is it that you think draws people to the LBD?

DO - I feel people are drawn to first the timelessness of the LBD, if you pick one with classic style lines, it won't go out of style for a very long time. Also the versatility of the LBD is a huge draw, you can dress it down with a cardigan and ballet flats or dress it up with some statement jewelry and fabulous heels. The LBD is really a blank slate and gives you permission to have fun with accent pieces and accessories.

HK - The book was obviously a huge undertaking, besides your own designs do you have the time to knit or sew for pleasure? Do you knit or sew other designers' designs or mostly work on your own creations?

DO- Oh my, there is so little time and so very many things I want to make! I think every person who makes things runs into this conundrum. I do like to try other designers designs out, more so with knitting and crochet patterns. With sewing, I find that I end up making a lot of fit adjustments for my body type, that it is sometimes easier to start out with my own pattern. But with so many great independently designed sewing patterns out there, I just can't resist certain patterns and have to sew one up for myself. Most of my pleasure knitting/crocheting is done if I am watching tv, so I tend to gravitate towards more simple designs. Since I deal with so much math in my day job as a technical designer/pattern maker, I don't want to think a whole lot when I have time to knit. Sadly, I don't think I will ever be an intricate lace knitter or have the patience to make a lovely Aran sweater.

HK - With this book out in the world, what's next?

DO - I would love to write another book eventually, but for now my consulting work as a technical designer and pattern maker is keeping me very busy.

Thanks, Dolin!

If you would like the chance to win a copy of Famous Frocks, please leave a comment on this post before midnight Pacific on Monday, December 15, 2014 telling me either how many Little Black Dresses are in your closet or whether you are multi-craftual and with which crafts. I will randomly select one winner from the comments.

If you want to comment (to be entered in the book giveaway), you'll need to visit our outside blog page. Our website blog page currently does not support comments.

Please be sure to include information so that I can contact you if you win - an email address or Ravelry name, please.

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