Friday, August 24, 2012

Golden Prairie Press {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Little girls love to play dress-up, and in some ways we don't outgrow that.  One of the things that appeals to me, and to my daughter, about watching movies in historical settings is the costumes.  We admire beautiful Regency or Victorian era gowns and hairstyles, and also consider ourselves lucky that we don't have to wear scratchy woolen stockings or be laced into tight corsets and stays.  I thought it would be great fun for us to review a book all about fashions through history, and the e-book Costumes With Character from Golden Prairie Press included instructions to sew these costumes too.


Golden Prairie Press is the business venture of author Amy Puetz, a homeschool graduate who shares her love of history, sewing and design in the products available.  We received the e-book Costumes with Character, which highlights the fashions of eleven different eras in American history, and gives instructions to make costumes from each. (The pattern pieces are all included in the book, but are in a grid and need to be enlarged to scale. We also received the bonus e-book with the pattern pieces already enlarged.)


Since we are studying American history this year, this book has already become a valuable resource to add to our studies.  As we study each of the eras, I am reading the information about the clothing of the time to Kennady, and we have selected several of the costumes to sew. We've already completed the Pilgrim dress, and are working on one of the Civil War dresses.  The clothing of the Pilgrims and Puritans is presented in the first chapter, the Quakers in the second, and the costumes are very similar, so we sewed just one of them.  Then I allowed Kennady to pick her favorite out of the rest of the book to do next.  As we go along, I'm certain we'll be making costumes to represent the Revolutionary era, the Pioneers and Westward expansions, and the Victorian era; and perhaps some of the others as well.

The great thing about the costumes is that they are all accessories to add to one basic dress.  If you already have a dress you can use, about half the work is already done!  The basic dress should be a simple construction dress in a solid color with long sleeves, and a long skirt. The book suggests altering a lady's size dress for a young girl, and that's what we did.  The basic dress we found was a very old dress of mine that we have been using for costumes for a long time.  It is floor-length on Kennady, so I did some quick alterations around the neckline so the bodice would fit her better.  The only drawback of the one we found was that the sleeves aren't quite long enough.  We are making do! I told Kennady that surely the Pilgrim women would have had to push their sleeves up to their elbows when washing or doing some of their chores.  LOL

The accessories to add on to the basic dress include things like collars, cuffs, aprons, pockets (they go on the outside!), vests and petticoats.  Other accessories that "make" the costume are bonnets and hats, fans, parasols, and purses.  Some items, like the aprons and cuffs, are used in more than one costume, or are similar enough that they can be.  Most of the items require just basic sewing skills and knowledge, but there are some that are a little more advanced, such a ladies vest that has buttonholes.

Kennady did most of the pinning and cutting of the pattern pieces, and the majority of the sewing too.  Rather than continue to write on and on, I will just show you the pictures.


She even posed as if she was working on a quilt.  LOL

We have had so much fun with this already, both in learning about the clothing worn through American history, and in sewing the costumes!  

What we liked best:

  • the majority of the costumes are simple to make, and many of the finished pieces can be used for more than one costume.
  • I love the approach of having that one basic dress and building all the costumes around it!  This makes it simple and affordable to have several period costumes. 
  • good information in each chapter, along with quotes and some review questions.
  • I always appreciate flexible resources - this can be used for history, for sewing, or just for fun!

What we weren't crazy about:

  • the pattern pieces are available in an e-book format, which was great because they are the actual size.  What's not great is that because it's an e-book, the largest paper size is legal, so a few of the pieces need to be patched together from several sheets of paper.  It's not a big deal, but it took a bit of figuring out, and I would have liked better if I could have had the pattern pieces on the thin sewing paper.  
Great job, Mistress Kennady!  

Would some costumes add character in your homeschool?  Here's what you need to know:

The book we reviewed, Costumes with Character, can be purchased as an e-book for $21.95, or as a softcover for $37.00  Until September 1st, these titles (and many others) are on sale for 20% off.  The .pdf version of the pattern pieces comes as a bonus download with the purchase of either version, with a print copy planned to be available sometime in September.

Visit the Golden Prairie Press online store to see the many other titles available!

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information about Golden Prairie Press and to read other Crew member reviews.  Crew members also reviewed the books Uncover Exciting History, Ten Girls from History, and Heroines of the Past Bible Study.


Disclaimer: As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received a complimentary copy of this e-book and pattern set in exchange for our honest opinions.


The Bertone's said...

That is so cool! I am going to have to get this book. My girls would love that! I really like your review. Swinging by from the TOS Crew! :)

Stefanie said...

I wish I could sew. Kennady looks adorable. I'm glad you posted some pictures so that we could see. So far you're the only one.

Jennifer said...

Adorable! I can tell that you and your daughter had fun with this.

Kimberly Kovach said...

Love the outfit she made. Excellent job. Just stopping by to see photos of the dresses the other reviewers chose to make so thanks for showing!

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