Project: Middle Ages History & Fashion

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks always for your support!

This year our 8th grader, Rebecca, has been working through history with an emphasis on fashion. She researches the history of fashion during that time period and then designs her own garments. During her study of the Middle Ages, Rebecca worked on two separate fashions- one from the early Middle Ages and another from later in the same period.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Research on Middle Ages History & Fashion

I’ve had fun looking for resources on the fashion of different time periods of history. Rebecca loves to explore and construct the most authentic garments.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

The Pattern Drafting Process

How does she go about making a dress from an idea?

  • Using her research, Rebecca comes up with an overall vision for a garment.
  • She sketches the dress starting with the basic shape and adding details.
  • As she chooses her design, she considers construction techniques and does more research and/or watches tutorials
  • Then it’s time to measure the doll and begin drawing the patterns.

Need help on learning to draft patterns? I shared our resources in Rebecca’s Steampunk Project post.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Constructing the Garment

I admire her bravery! Her skills are confident and she’ll try something new with no hesitation.

  • Use authentic fabric if possible- though I have to say she did not enjoy working with the wool.
  • Use a serger- If you have a serger, you can use it to finish the seams before putting the pieces together. If not, then be sure to finish the seams carefully.
  • Frequently read tutorials- Rebecca spends a lot of time learning by reading sewing blogger tutorials. It’s free and it’s a great way to learn on your own! Her Kindle Fire is usually by her side when she is working on something so she can refer back to the tutorial easily.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Facts on Middle Ages Fashion

Rebecca uncovered some interesting details in her research of Middle Ages Fashion. Here are a few:

  • During the 13th century tunics were the base of all outfits.
  • Cloaks were a staple of the Middle Ages and worn over the tunic.
  • Children wore the same basic style in smaller sizes.
  • The longer your garments and cloaks, the more money you had. Peasants wore short length garments.
  • During the 14th century waist lines rose and women’s clothing became more fitted – some sleeves were so tight they had to be stitched together once on!
  • The 15th century showed the empire waist being popular.
  • Men’s garment length was shortening while lady’s lengths were increasing.

Rebecca chose to make a gown in keeping with 15th century fashion. The collar is made of “fur” and forms a V that goes to the waist and it has a thick belt which was popular at the time.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Reading List for the Middle Ages

Along with her research in fashion, she spent time immersed in both fiction and non-fiction titles about the same time period. A brief list of the titles she’s read include:

Some of these titles chronicle the end of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed.

Studying fashion and learning how these garments were made and put together is a great way to focus on one aspect of history. Rebecca has had a very focused year and it’s been great for building her sewing project portfolio. She’s learned a lot of techniques which are useful for full sized fashions.

I’m looking forward to sharing two of her latest projects with you soon. She has a fashion due this week for a local contest. Rebecca is hoping to do well enough to make it into the fashion show. Stay tuned!

Unit Study: The Life of Ben Carson

Blog, She Wrote: Unit Study- The Life of Ben Carson

I have partnered with Great Homeschool Conventions to bring you announcements during this convention year. Ben Carson will be speaking at two GHC locations this season- Cincinnati & Greenville.

Read about Ben Carson

Reading biographies of extraordinary people can be encouraging and open a window to their character. There are several great choices for Ben Carson.

Explore Careers in Medicine

Ben loved to read and enjoyed science from a young age. Eventually, he decided to pursue a career in medicine. Have you ever talked about this vocation with your kids? Now is a great time. Dr. Carson is a retired pediatric neurosurgeon. Help your kids to understand medicine and what it takes to be a doctor.

Study The Brain & Nervous System

Dr. Carson specializes in pediatric neurosurgery which is brain surgery on kids! Take some time to learn about our fascinating brains and nervous system. Here are a few resources on the topic.

Ben Carson has had an amazing journey from a troubled beginning to becoming a world renowned surgeon. He places his success on his faith and his love of reading which was something his mom insisted upon. Just think of the potential we all have if we are faithful, disciplined people who love to read!

We invite you to enjoy the unit study and what better way to follow it up than to see Mr. Carson speak in person at one of two GHC locations this season. I’m excited to see where his retirement career will lead him next.

Visit other iHomeschool Network bloggers who are mentioning Dr. Carson today. I’ve enjoyed reading about this real life hero.

Blog, She Wrote: Great Homeschool Conventions

Project: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s time to report on the wrap up of our Literature, History, & Fashion unit on Jules Verne and Steampunk. Rebecca had been working on reading Jules Verne and learning more about Steampunk origins and fashion. In the first post I shared the content of our unit and the beginning of the dress making process. Today, I’m following up on that post with the conclusion to the project- at least this time period for the ongoing history & fashion project.

Jules Verne Project Review

The main elements of the project included:

  • Reading Jules Verne books
  • Learning about the life of Jules Verne
  • Writing an author profile & some analysis essays on Jules Verne and his work (these came from Excellence in Literature)
  • Steampunk Fashion- learning about what it is and where it came from
  • Fashion Design- Steampunk style

You can see the original post by clicking on the link above or the picture below. There are more details on the books and assignments there.

Blog, She Wrote: Jules Verne Literature, History, & Fashion

I interviewed Rebecca to find out what she thought of this project and if she had any tips or advise for you all. In the first post, you can see how the pieces of the pattern came together in the bodice and below you can see the first fitting.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

What Is Your Favorite Part about Drafting Patterns?

  • Drawing the designs
  • Choosing fabrics best suited for the fashion
  • Drafting the patterns from my sketches

By far her favorite is the drafting which is curious considering it requires effort and math! Rebecca is always up for a crafty math challenge. What better way to apply skills?

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Why Do You Prefer to Draft Your Own Patterns?

Rebecca has always preferred to make her own patterns rather than follow store bought ones. What makes pattern drafting so appealing? She has some very specific opinions on this:

  • Makes you more familiar with the pattern
  • I will know how all the pieces fit together
  • I know how the garment deconstructs in my mind.
  • Gives me independence- I don’t have to stick with the pattern I’m given. It can be my pattern, my way.
  • Shows me why something needs to be done in a certain order

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

What Would You do Differently?

She learned a few important things from this project. Even mistakes lead to better understanding and she did have to take the garment apart at least once during the process.

  • Make sure the sleeves have the proper seam allowance and make sure they do not taper but stay straight. Dolls cannot cup a hand to squeeze an arm into a sleeve! You can see how she chose to modify the design so she would not have to recut and sew the fabric.
  • Whatever you do to the front of the dress, you must do to the back. In this case she had four or more pattern pieces that made up the bodice and she had to make sure they lined up well once they were put together.
  • Make the lining from the same fabric or a similar color so that if the fabric peeks out from the seam it is less noticeable! Rebecca made a fabulous lining to the bodice, but it easy to see when it’s out of place.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Tools for Drafting Patterns

Here are some basic items to have on hand for pattern making:

  • ruler
  • pencil
  • bendable ruler- helpful for tracing curves for the armscye (armhole in the sleeve) and necklines
  • large pieces of paper (larger than printer paper)
  • doll (or a person if you are sewing for people)
  • tape measure
  • pins- for fittings
  • fabric marking pencil or pen
  • dress form

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Some Helpful Drafting Tutorial Sites

Rebecca has learned a lot from books and websites on how to draft her own patterns. Here are a few of her favorite sites.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

How Do You Go from Sewing Tidbits to Drafting Patterns and Putting Together Garments?

Rebecca has been sewing since she was 8 years old. At three months shy of 14, she’s been sewing for 6 years and I’ve watched a lot of growth in that time. My sewing skills are fairly basic, so how did she go from sewing simple projects to drafting her own designs from sketches and successfully sewing a garment that is tailored? I know what I’ve done to mentor her and she had some ideas to share as well.

  • Build up endurance for longer projects! How? Sew a lot and get better at it. It doesn’t matter if they are small projects at first just as long as you keep at it.
  • Try new techniques- once you have the hang of the basics, challenge yourself to keep trying new skills. Build your skills slowly and steadily.
  • Use a visually pleasing tutorial- so it’s easy to understand and use the books and tutorials to tackle the drafting. Rebecca’s Kindle Fire has proven to be very helpful in following the tutorials right where she is working. I can’t recommend this homeschool tool enough! See all the ways we use this economical tablet in our homeschool, 10 Reasons to Use a Kindle Part 2- Kindle Fire
  • Provide materials for the work- make sure your sewing student has the tools of the trade that allow her to learn the new skills.
  • Provide space for the work- I can’t emphasize enough how much this helps the learning process. Rebecca would not get nearly the work in that she does if she had to make a big deal about getting started every time she wanted to work.
  • Give them the time- Time to work is a huge part of the success of Rebecca’s skill acquisition. She is given long blocks of uninterrupted time to work out the drafting process and fix mistakes without distractions.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Costume Design

This project area has spurred a lot of interest in costume design. The dress that Rebecca put together is all her own idea based on some steampunk influences including a dress that was made for me and the Steampunk Pinterest Board I created for her.

She adored the process of envisioning a dress and making it come alive. The last piece to the puzzle was in all the details of this dress. We scoured the craft stores for the hardware to add to the steampunk design. We found the perfect accessories and doodads! Steampunk is all about late 1800s style with futuristic capabilities all made from steam power and gears that do work.

She is already thinking about how this work could be a part of her future.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

This history and fashion project for the year has been very successful. Rebecca is building quite a portfolio with the next step being the county fair. She has read books on period clothing and learned a great deal about culture at the same time – whether it’s the steampunk genre or life in the middle ages.

She is about to take her skills to the next level by constructing her own gown for this year’s Civil War Ball. I can hardly wait to see the finished product.

Coaching Writing with a Writer’s Workshop

Blog, She Wrote: Coaching Writing with a Writer's Workshop

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks so much for your support!

I’ve mentioned before that we’ve been hosting a writer’s workshop twice a month since September. I use the model for a workshop found in the book Workshops Work by Patricia Zaballos. I’ve shared a review over at Curriculum Choice, but I want to focus on how our workshop plays out each week.

Who Attends Our Writer’s Workshop?

  • Our workshop has 6-8 kids week to week ranging in age from 11-15 (and my 8yo jumps in sometimes).
  • I sent an invitation to the workshop to our entire homeschool group and we’ve had some kids come and go, but we’ve had a core group of writers since September. I wanted to be sure we had a diverse group of kids as much as possible and not just pick our friends.
  • One requirement I specified is that the kids be able to be in a somewhat unstructured setting for two hours.
  • Kids have to share their writing. If someone doesn’t like to share their work, then workshop is not a great environment for them. I don’t mind if they don’t share at first, but the idea is to give feedback and to enjoy writing for an audience.
  • Not everyone who attends loves to write! This is a big one because even the kids who don’t profess to love writing enjoy coming to workshop and they are often inspired by others to write.
  • We did have one special event in early November where I invited a local author to join us. The kids invited some of their friends and some of them stayed on with us. Anne Mazer was a real treat to see and I am so thankful she was able to encourage the kids and show us all what it’s like to be a published author.

Blog, She Wrote: Coaching Writing with a Writer's Workshop

What Happens at a Workshop?

  • I start the workshop with announcements- usually I share websites I’ve found that I think the kids will like related to writing and writers.
  • The students share their homework- yes they have homework. They beg me for it! I send them home with a second writing exploration to do during the interim and we share it first thing when we gather.
  • We share the piece we’ve prepared on our own
  • Writing Exploration- they get a short writing exercise during the workshop time and we share those.
  • Share Time- after the writing exploration we have more sharing time. Our group is small enough that sometimes we share all at once before doing the exploration. I split it up only if it looks like everyone could use a break.
  • Assign the Homework- this is an exercise they get to take home and bring back the next time. These are helpful if you have students who don’t always bring something of their own.

Blog, She Wrote: Coaching Writing with a Writer's Workshop

How Do You Handle Peer Feedback During the Workshop?

This is the tricky part everyone wonders about! How do I get the kids to engage with each other in a positive way? Many of your questions are answered in the book, Workshops Work. However, I’ll share a few things that have worked for us so far.

  • Teach them how to do it- I went over how we would go about the process and I modeled that behavior when we started and occasionally now to keep things moving.
  • Reminders- on the positive feedback we are looking for. We want writers to share each week so we aren’t looking for super critical reviews.
  • They are specific with feedback- they tell something they thought was interesting or a word they really liked. It’s fun to ask more questions and help the students to remember specific things in a story.
  • I have a poster- with language they can use or ideas on what to look for as a person reads just as a visual reminder. I pull it out when they need to see it again.

The feedback portion is so interesting to watch. The kids really listen for those golden sentences- the ones they want to hear again. And I’ve seen multiple chapters of the same stories show up because kids are encouraged to continue the tale.

We’ve been working together for six months and the group loves to hear what they will all read. They love it so much they can’t imagine taking a break for the summer! In fact, they were appalled I would even suggest it! How is that not a win?

Blog, She Wrote: Coaching Writing with a Writer's Workshop

What Happens If You Lack Confidence in Coaching Your Own Writers?

  • The first thing I’d say is the workshop doesn’t require a lot of editing. It does require thoughtful feedback.
  • Hands down the writer’s workshop is the best value for my effort as a mentor! It’s easy to implement and the kids grow to love it more and more each week.
  • As a facilitator, after the kids get to know one another and understand how workshop time goes, you get to say less and less. The students really drive the workshop time. They are delightful to hear!

However, if overall you do not feel equipped to take on coaching writers through high school, there are other options! That is the great news about homeschooling- we can tailor our students’ experiences to fit their needs and ours. One such offering is the Essay Rockstar by Fortuigence. We had the opportunity to participate in the program last spring and summer and Lily Iatridis, the instructor, mentors the students through an essay assignment using an online format.


Fortuigence offers families four Essay Rockstar Personal Essay

modules that teach various aspects of essay writing. You can pay for the entire course or you can take them a la carte. The personal essay is a great start and allows Lily Iatridis to personally coach your student at writing a personal essay. College applications always require a personal statement of some kind.


 Resources for Coaching Writers

Don’t forget to visit my post on resources for coaching writing. We have enjoyed using many of these during the workshop time. They are also what I pull from to assign homework to the workshop participants.

You might also enjoy my Pinterest board on Coaching Writers.

Whatever resources you choose, enjoy the process and remain consistent- whether you are the coach or you defer so you can be the assistant coach.


5 Reasons to Host a Girls’ Book Club

Blog, She Wrote: 5 Reasons to Host a Girls' Book Club

Are you looking for a way to get your girl to connect with books and have time with other girls? Having just one daughter among three sons, I have to be intentional about making sure we have girl time. When we were invited to be a part of a girls’ book club, I happily accepted the opportunity to host. We meet once a month in our home, and we have six girls who attend. The parents stay for the club time and share their expertise with the girls. Why take the time to work a book club into your schedule?

For five reasons to host a girl’s book club, click on over to the Bright Ideas Press blog where my post is today!