Monthly Archives: August 2009

TOS Crew: Sense and Sensibility Patterns

I’ve been admiring the pretty dresses at Sense and Sensibility for a long time now, but never got up the nerve to actually order one and work on it. I’m not much of a seamstress. The girls know more about using our sewing machine than I do!

Still, when the TOS Crew members were given the opportunity to download the pattern for an Edwardian Girls’ Apron, I thought we’d do our best to muddle through. After all, there must be other novice seamstresses out there who are looking for a place to get their feet wet! (Um. Mixed my metaphors there. Not sure what a beginning sewing metaphor would be, actually.)

E-pattern, here we come!

I had sewn a few things from paper patterns, but never an e-pattern. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was sort of like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You see, the pattern prints out on 8-1/2 by 11 sheets, and then you tape them together. The author tells you to trace the pattern from the taped sheets onto interfacing for durability. The pattern comes in a range of sizes, from girls’ 2-14, so you can trace just the lines for the size you’re making. A note to the wise: Don’t drop the stack of sheets! The pages aren’t numbered, but print out in an order that allows you to lay out the pattern left-to-right. A “thumbnail” picture shows you what the finished pattern should look like, when you have all the sheets laid out in the right order.

The pattern came with lots of helps including an mp3 file with an audio workshop that goes together with slides saved in a PDF file. I had a little trouble playing the mp3 file on my Vista-based computer, but found instructions on the web (in short, I changed the file extension from mp3 to mp2 and it worked). The audio workshop is well organized, with the speaker telling you which slide you should be looking at, as she goes along.

The instructor takes you from choosing material through the the process of making the apron. Along the way you learn how to lay out the pattern pieces for cutting out the fabric, making your own bias binding, and then step-by-step putting the whole thing together, all the while listening to a running commentary, including hints and tips.

There are instructions for making your own binding, but if you want to save time you could use purchased binding for your apron. The apron itself has pockets on both sides (we love pockets!) and straps that criss-cross in the back. The result is pretty as well as practical.

The Sense and Sensibility Girls’ Edwardian Apron is available for $12.95 as a paper pattern, or $7.95 as an e-pattern, from Sense and Sensibility. You can buy the mp3/PDF slide class and e-pattern together for $24.95.

Although this is supposed to be a simple pattern, I’m not sure I’d want to try it as my very first sewing project. I’m glad I had a couple of jumpers and a dress in my sewing experience. (I guess baby quilts wouldn’t count much, except for learning to sew a straight line.) I think if you wanted to try this for your first project, it might be a good idea to find a friend who knows how to sew, to walk you through the process.

To read more TOS Crew reviews of this product, click here.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew were offered a free download of the e-pattern and apron-making class. No additional monetary compensation was involved. Opinions offered are our own family’s.

Update (May 2010): We purchased the Regency dress pattern and used it for the older girls to learn to sew. Because I am something of an indifferent seamstress, I asked a friend to teach the girls, and she invited two more friends for a sewing party. Under their watchful eyes, the girls made beautiful dresses, and have learned about gathering (they already knew how to gather but now they know more), setting in sleeves, making buttonholes and sewing on buttons, slip-stitching, and hemming. What fun!

Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education

Have I mentioned I love this resource?

Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education is a book from Simply Charlotte Mason that simplifies the planning process. You don’t have to be a CM educator–it works well for anybody who uses books (even textbooks) in their homeschool. It’s especially useful for someone educating using CM techniques, though, as the name signifies.

You can buy it as a physical book, spiral bound, or as an e-book if you want an instant download and don’t mind reading off the computer or printing out the book and putting it in a binder or getting it bound at the office store. (With the official school year fast approaching, I have one friend who elected to do just that.) Purchasers also can download PDF pages of the forms in the book, for convenience in printing.

In five steps you go from big-picture planning through planning for the year, the term, the week, and finally, the day. The author allows for natural differences in families and styles and throws in lots of resources, lists, and examples to help you in your planning. Using the free Bookfinder at the site makes planning even easier! (I haven’t tried the free trial of the online CM Planner yet. I’m kind of afraid to. What if it turns out to be so convenient that I don’t want to go without it after the free trial runs out?)

I’m on step 3 out of the 5-step process. I kind of stalled there a few weeks ago due to being over-busy with daily life. Need to get cracking!

Holiday Grand Plan

Thanks once more to the CEO for hosting this and offering free notebook pages!Yes, it’s around the corner, the beginning of the Holiday Grand Plan for 2009. (This year’s plan begins the week of August 30.)

Are you ready? Want to join me in getting enough done before the start of the holiday season, that we can find rest and refreshment and time to meditate on the true Reason for the season?

(Some questions to get you started: When you’re feeling thankful, Whom do you thank, and why? What is the original meaning to be found in the word “Christmas” and why is it important? Is “Xmas” really an attempt to “X” out Christ, or is it a reminder of the Cross? Is Christmas really a pagan holiday, or a holy day?)

Oops, don’t have any more time today for contemplation; it’s past my bedtime.

Anyhow, the Holiday Grand Plan emphasizes being a “martha” now so that you can be a “mary” (maybe we should say “merry”?) later. Visit Organized Christmas for a printable planner (and more!).

TOS Crew, I’m back!

It’s been alternately busy, hot, laid low by illness, busy, and today it’s hot (but cooling by Friday) and I really need to settle down and get stuff done on the computer!

Oh, and let’s not forget to put distracted in there–I discovered Facebook last week and have been exploring a little every day, adding friends and looking up old friends and reading people’s posts and even commenting a time or two. I learned to upload photos, too, and became a fan of Organic Gardening and the TOS Crew Facebook Page.

Anyhow, the Crew has been going all summer, working with Grapevine Studies, Hank the Cowdog book and game, Quarter Mile Math, Sense and Sensibility patterns (a graceful and practical apron pattern), Sue Gregg cookbooks, Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, College Prep Genius, and more! (I’ve received all of the above except the cookbooks, so you’ll be hearing about them here in the coming days.)


Cooling trend!

Today is the hottest day of the week, a “balmy” 90-something, with 80s predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday and 70s (can you believe it?) for Thursday! Hooray! *throws confetti*

Perhaps my brain will start working again and I can post about homeschool planning, now that August has galloped in. (Summer is passing by in a rush… how are you spending the last few weeks before the “school year” activities start to take up places on your schedule?)