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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Review: Sense and Sensibility Patterns

Historical, but wearable! That's Sense and Sensibility patterns for ladies, girls and dollies by Jennie Chancey, a homeschooling mom who also likes her afternoon tea.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I recently had the opportunity to try out the Girls' Edwardian Apron e-pattern and e-class bundle. I have to say that the finished product is just adorable. Notice how the contrasting bias trim really sets it off the pattern of the fabric. Mary just loves this apron. She says that now I have to teach her to cook.

The e-bundle arrived via email and I was easily able to download the 16 megabyte file using my dsl connection. The download page warns you to use a high-speed connection because of the size of the file. I think it's do-able on dial-up, certainly, though probably quite slow. As the product itself consists of several smaller files in a zip folder, it would be nice to see the download split up for customers with slower connections.

I downloaded and unzipped the folder with no problems and then checked out the different files. The bundle contains instructions on how to use the e-class, the cover page for the pattern, instructions for printing and putting together your pattern, a thumbnail of what the pattern looks like when properly assembled, sewing instructions, yardage chart, layout, slides for the e-class, an mp3 file with the e-class audio, and a page of links for resources. It is recommended that you read through how to assemble your pattern and your pattern instructions and view the entire e-class before beginning to sew.


The yardage chart was easy to read, and the instructions clear and easy to follow. The pattern includes girl sizes 2-14. I found the estimated yardages given for the project to be inaccurate, though. I needed much less fabric than called for, but since I used a different layout than what was suggested and fabrics often can vary in width by several inches, I'm not bothered by having some extra fabric. But, the yardage for the bias binding was waaaay off. I cut a size 6 apron, for which the pattern calls for 3 yards of binding, and I ended up needing a total of 4-1/2 to 5 yards of binding! Fortunately, when I purchased the binding I bought a package of the double-fold and a package of the single-fold (all the store had in that color, which was discontinued), because experience told me that 3 yards might not be enough. As you can see from the pictures, I used the single-fold (folding it in half, of course) for the top and straps, and the double-fold for the pockets. I think that end result is still darling, but I wasn't too happy about the inaccurate yardage.

The e-pattern, once printed, consists of 25 sheets of paper that need to be lined up and taped together. My only difficulty here was in getting the sheets properly aligned with each other. Each sheet has an unprinted margin that needs to be either trimmed or folded (unless your paper is thin enough to see through easily) to line up the drawn pattern lines. Since the only lines on the sheets are the drawn cutting lines, there are many sheets where there might only be 1-2 lines to match up between sheets and it's hard to keep everything square. It took me about 45 frustrating minutes to assemble the pattern, and a whole lot of tape. A background grid to help match up the pattern pieces, and a printed margin line would make this process much simpler. Once the pattern was assembled, though, cutting the pieces out was a breeze.

The e-class is a little over 45 minutes long and consists of an mp3 audio accompanied by slides in a pdf file. The sound was clear and the instructions easy to understand. At the end of the slides are links to some short video segments you can access online to clarify some of the instructions. Overall, I think the e-class would be very helpful to a beginning sewer. With the proper set-up, you could watch and pause it as you were working on the garment. Jennie passes on plenty of experience-won advice, including the importance of not sewing over pins (!), why you should press after every step (I agree whole-heartedly) and more. She begins by advising you on fabric choice and the importance of pre-washing your fabric, walks you through making your own bias binding and then takes you through all the steps of constructing the garment. There are a couple of areas where this class could be improved. In many of the pictures, for instance, it is difficult to see what exactly is being done and how because of the choice of fabric. A simpler fabric with a sharply contrasting binding and thread, while certainly less aesthetically pleasing, would be helpful here. Beyond that, the class was well done and definitely worth a look if you are new to sewing or looking for a refresher.

The pattern was simple to assemble and consists of only a few pieces, but I'd be hesitant to call it a pattern for beginners simply because of accuracy needed to apply all that bias tape. Still, with some patience, I think a beginner could handle it, especially with the help given by watching the e-class. My actual sewing time was about 2-1/2 hours.

I don't think I've been won over to e-patterns, though I can see some possible advantages. A lost piece is easily replaced, though with this particular pattern, the assembly of the pattern itself is such that you might have to find and print out 3 separate sheets to get one very small pattern piece. You'll definitely save space with pattern storage, though the time you'll spend assembling the pattern might cancel out that advantage. Overall, I love the pattern itself and the finished product, so I might be checking out Sense and Sensibility's printed patterns.

The Girls' Edwardian Apron e-pattern and e-class bundle is available for $24.95. Or you can purchase just the e-pattern for $7.95. The paper pattern is available for $12.95.

5 comments:

  1. Mary is gorgeous! Please give her a hug from me!

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  2. Thank you for your honest and informative review! Great job! I was eager to hear about this one as I am not a seamstress at all!
    Beautiful Job!!!

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  3. She looks so proud! How adorable. I passed on this one as I do not have a sewing machine. I think maybe sometime I will go back & do it for my littlest. I love it!

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  4. Very good and balanced review.
    The apron looks great!

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  5. I love the butterflies! You did a great job :) Sorry you found putting the pattern together so frustrating though. The results look like they were worth it, just for her smile!

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