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Using Sense and Sensibility Sewing Patterns: Part One

Girl's Romantic Era Dress Sense and Sensibility patterns Sewing example Sewing Examples Sewing patterns

I have just started working on sewing up most of the patterns we stock, firstly because it would be alot of fun!   Secondly, because it is helpful when buying patterns online to be able not only to see how the final product looks once made up, but also a bit about what the pattern contains, how clear the instructions are, how easy or hard it is to sew up, and how others are using them. Am starting on Sense and Sensibilities' Girls patterns and will post the photos as my girls and I progress through the stock.  A bit about Sense and Sensibility: Jennie Chancey, is the founder of Sense and Sensibility, a business specializing in historical sewing patterns.   She has a great website, where you are able to contact the people who have actually designed and used the patterns, for any questions or help you may need in regards to their products.  Some of the patterns also have photo instructions on the website also, just a little bit more help for those that need it! So I decided to start with the Girl's Romantic Era Dress size 8 for my daughter, and the pantaloons and pinafore.  I wanted to see how using an epattern compares to a ready printed pattern, so purchased the pattern of the Sense and Sensibility website and I'm using the pre-printed pattern for the pantaloons and pinafore.                                   

Pros ePattern:

  • Obviously faster to receive your epattern compared to having it mailed out, I decided to purchase pattern yesterday, printed it off and had the pantaloons finished by late last night, so super fast if you need something in a hurry :)
  • You will never lose a pattern piece.  If a piece gets misplaced you only need to print it out again and voila!
  • Storage is brilliant also, a whole disk of epatterns could easily fit an entire wardrobe of clothing for your whole family on it.

Cons ePattern:

  • If like me you have a printer with super expensive ink cartridges, printing out all your pattern pieces could be a very costly exercise.
  • I disliked taping  A4 pieces of paper together after printing, I think the whole pattern sheet took something like 35 pieces.  It probably took me 1 and 1/2 hrs to trim and tape the whole sheet together, possible longer, I am definitely a fan of the pre-printed in this case.
Just a couple of things to take note of about these patterns that will make your sewing experience much more satisfying.  
  1. Each epattern has detailed instructions on how to successfully print them out.
  2. Make sure you take accurate measurements and check which size you may need, don't assume that your off the rack size would be the same as the pattern sizing.
  3. Sense and Sensibility patterns are based on actual period dress, so the making up and fitting of the finished dress may be different to modern clothing, make sure you read the instructions thoroughly before you start.
  4. Making a mock up of your chosen dress, usually called a muslin, is a good idea to make sure it fits correctly, and to make any changes to pattern,  before you go ahead and cut into your more expensive fabric.
  5. It also pays to have a look at the Sense and Sensibility site as they have tips and forums for further support.  This page on the Sense and Sensibility website, gives tips for troubleshooting fit and sizing problems that is very helpful.

Ready Printed Patterns

The already printed patterns are on a heavy paper stock like cartridge paper. The advice in the booklet, is to use the printed paper as a master pattern, so you don't actually cut into it, this enables you to use multiple sizes without ruining your pattern.  I used interfacing to trace off the pattern, you can also use baking paper, although this gets a little tricky with the larger pieces, and normal tracing paper. The recommendation on the Sense and Sensibility website however is to use something called Swedish tracing paper.  Apparently it is sturdy, sewable, so you can sew up the pattern to check fitting, and drapable.  The interfacing I used is good, but is a bit stretchy, definitely something you don't want when cutting out fabric.  Am going to get me a couple of rolls of Swedish tracing paper to see for myself. S&S gets their paper from www.birchstreetclothing.com .  In Australia it is available from www.craftymamas.com .  If I like the stuff may start stocking it myself stay tuned!   The information that comes with the ready printed patterns is invaluable.  There are plenty of pictures, and the historical background of each pattern is very interesting, a great bonus.  Jennie Chancey also gives you ideas on the material the original gowns were made out of, and ways of adding extra details to your creations.  Possibly a wee bit much for complete beginners, however with a good sewing how to book, the S&S website, and Google, you're good to go!

Getting Ready

I was considering sewing this garment using heirloom sewing practices, however hand sewing is not my strong suit, and I just don't have enough time at the moment.  I did hand sew the button holes however and the hem around the sleeves, as the muslin was just too fine and would not sew in my machine without fraying.                                                 Tools and patterns at the ready!  I just used what tools I had on hand, but I would suggest at least a meter long ruler, a bigger cutting mat, a better craft knife than I have, a small tape dispenser and maybe a rotary cutter once you start cutting the material.  [table is our homeschool table which is also used for art, suggest not sewing light coloured muslin on art tables!]

Taping the first row of printed off pattern pieces

It is best to take your time doing the taping, make sure you cut and line up all papers correctly.

 

See here for part 2!

Turina



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