Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review: Sense and Sensibility Patterns

Between the ages of six and eight, my daughter, now 12, took machine sewing classes. I purchased a sewing machine for her to use and she made quite a few simple projects during that time. The classes were enjoyed while they lasted, but the sewing teacher ended up getting a full-time job and there wasn't another teacher readily available to inspire. Since then, the sewing machine remains unused with the exception of an annual unveiling, by me, the non-sewer, to make costumes for a yearly theater production. I completely wing the costumes and have never used a pattern. Let's just say it's a good thing the performance is done on an elevated stage at a distance. Otherwise, my lack of skill surely would be noticeable!

Sense and Sensibility Patterns was started in 1996, introducing old-fashioned designs to a niche' market. Combining this cottage industry with the internet, accessibility quickly grew the company with the demand of those seeking feminine clothing. Sense and Sensibility now offers 18 patterns from five different eras, as well as online classes and eclasses. Patterns are available as a download or printed.

When I had the opportunity to try a Sense and Sensibility e-pattern and e-class bundle for the adorable Edwardian Girls' Apron, I considered it a great opportunity dig out the sewing machine. As a non-sewer, I would be an excellent candidate to give this product a trial run for those that would like to dabble in the craft. I was further motivated by some fabric that had been packed away for several years and visions of my 3-year-old niece twirling in the apron. My daughter liked the idea of making her cousin an early Christmas gift, so we dusted off the sewing machine and got started.

I was curious about how an e-pattern and e-class for sewing would work. Several files were downloaded from the site. Included were the actual pattern, an audio file, a PDF file, some instructions, and a file that showed the layout of the pattern. After reading the pattern instructions and making sure my printer was set correctly, I printed out the 25-page pattern, with a range of sizes from 2-14. The pages are printed in order of placement for a grid layout. I added the page number to the back of each page as it printed to avoid confusion on the order. The next step was to piece and tape together the pages to get a complete pattern. I didn't find the piecing together difficult, but it did take some patience. Holding the sheets of a paper up to a window to make sure I was lining up properly made the process less difficult. Before long, I had my pattern and fabric pieces cut.

The class portion consisted of a PDF slide presentation paired with an audio file. Jennie, who created the pattern and teaches the class, explains each step very thoroughly and includes links to supplemental video for some of the more trickier steps. Much of the first part of the class is devoted to explaining how to make your own binding. I decided to purchase binding and save myself some time (and frustration). I skimmed the class and then took my laptop and set it next to the sewing machine. I liked that I could listen to each portion, stop or repeat portions of the class, and work on that step. It really is like Jennie is right there in the room with you. My daughter helped quite a bit and regained her sewing confidence as we moved along. I'd sew one pocket, she'd sew the other, and so on. There were some tricky parts for a beginner, but I was able to get through each step by reading the instructions and watching the class.

Having never sewn with a pattern before, I was pleased with the results! I especially like the criss-cross strap design that threads through loops on either side of the skirt. This design allows adjustment of the straps as the child grows. The denim is durable and suits my niece's personality, but any patterned or floral fabric would give it a more feminine look.

I hope my niece enjoys her new denim apron on Christmas morning. My daughter plans to scale down the pattern, easily done by reducing the PDF file, to make a matching apron for my niece's doll. We'll include some cooking utensils for a personalized Christmas gift from the heart.

Overall, this was a fun project to do with my daughter and gave me some confidence to perhaps try a simple pattern again. Younger children could help by tracing the pattern to the fabric, stitching some of the straight seams, and ironing under assistance. Older children with some previous sewing experience could work fairly independently. I found the downloads convenient, the class helpful and the customer service exceptional.

Sense and Sensibility offers many other patterns, including a matching Edwardian apron for mom. The e-pattern and e-class bundle costs $24.95. The pattern is available separately as a printed pattern for $12.95 or an epattern for $7.95. Visit the website to see some of the other historical patterns available, get sewing tips and read about the Young Designers' Pattern Contest. Be sure to check out the other reviews and pictures of completed aprons by visiting the official TOS Crew blog. Perhaps you, too, will be inspired to dust off that sewing machine to make a treasured apron for your own child or a thoughtful gift for another little girl in your life.

1 comment:

Jessica S. said...

The apron turned out AWESOME! Wish I could sew...ugh, maybe one of these days I'll force myself to learn... Great job! ;)