Jules Verne: Literature, History, & Fashion

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

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This year my 10th and 8th graders are using Excellence in Literature. E15 uses it for his main writing and literature course and R13 is using it as a unit study program– not only is she reading and doing the writing, but she is also studying the history and fashion of the same time period. We had a plan to study the middle ages for the year, but in the end she thought it would be more interesting to skip around and immerse herself in the context of each piece of literature. Fabulous idea! We started with Introduction to Literature, although I purchased the entire set so I could skip around.

Whatever one man is capable of conceiving, other men will be able to achieve. -Jules Verne

The Literature of Jules Verne

  • Around the World in 80 Days– was the focus text of this unit
  • Around the World in Eighty Days: The Whole Story– an annotated version of the full unabridged text which shows illustrations for various ports, objects in the story.
  • 20,000 Leagues under the Sea– honors text
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth– She worked with this book over the summer and taught a Zine class having to do with caves to kids at the summer library program.
  • Other Worlds– by One Year Adventure Novel. E15 is working on a fantasy novel and he’d been watching lessons on the history of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.

Biographies of Jules Verne

The unit required R13 to write an author profile. After reading about the author, the kids wrote a summary about the author’s life including birth and death dates along with some high points about his life. I’d like to see more go into this so I may change this up for future units.

For the most part, sticking with biographies written for the middle grades can give a good picture of the author’s life without stumbling upon the very adult oriented issues that an author may have. Jules Verne certainly did have some issues best left uncovered by young readers.


Steampunk Fashion: A Study & Idea Gathering

Jules Verne and his many literary inventions has launched a whole new genre of science fiction (and a subculture) – Steampunk. Steampunk imagines that there are fanciful inventions with great capabilities which are all steam powered.

Steampunk fashion is derived from Victorian era dress with the addition of technologies and gadgets consistent with more modern times- except they all “look” old.

  • Steampunk Fashions Pinterest Board– this is a gathering of steampunk images of clothing others have made and of vintage gowns. I wanted a relatively “safe” place for R13 to get ideas for her own fashions. Steampunk fashion isn’t always the most modest so I pick the best ones for her to view.
  • Cover Story– the middle school writing program from the creator of One Year Adventure Novel has a steampunk theme. R13 is working on her own magazine issue this year and the theme has been helpful in discovering more about the steampunk culture- in props and in the journal writing exercises.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea- Disney movie version. Seems to be an inspiration to many in the steampunk culture. If you haven’t seen it recently, have a look.

If you choose to try out this unit, just a word of caution on the world of steampunk…as the parent check it out first! Make sure the content is what you are looking for and leaves out what you are not interested in for your student.



Steampunk Pattern Design & Making

I’ve mentioned before in The Making of a Wizard & The Crafty Side of Math how we incorporate applied math into R13’s school work. Steampunk fashion is another great opportunity for us to tackle a great project.

  • Many sketches– R13 began with sketches of her designs. She did research on different steampunk designs and ideas and came up with some things she wanted to make. She worked on some princess seam sketches for some time trying to come up with a way to create the line of a corset shape on her doll.
  • Choosing Fabrics– dark and flashy is what she’s going for and is using some rescued for reuse fabric in her designs. She has some in her collection, but here’s a shout out to our favorite source Mrs.R for her help in securing just the right pieces!
  • Measurements– She takes the necessary dimensions of her 18 inch doll in order to draft the patterns.
  • Drafting the Patterns– she uses the book How to Make Sewing Patterns to make drafts of her sketches using the dimensions of her doll. This is a book she has grown into as her skills have improved and she’s wanted to learn more. She’s very careful to label each pattern so she knows which piece it is and whether or not the seam allowance is included.
  • Cutting the Fabric– she has completed the sleeves and the front of the bodice. She has to correct a mistake in her back piece of the bodice.
  • Sewing– finally the pieces of fabric can be sewn together!


Designing Steampunk Accessories

  • Gear Buttons– gears are very popular in the steampunk world. R13 made these from Shrinky Dinks. She plans to adorn the dress with them.
  • Hoop– for the hoop skirt. She had to be very clever to work out what she wanted for this. She is hopeful it will help the dress to keep the shape she intends.
  • Embellishments– So far she has added ribbon to her sleeves. I can’t wait to see what else she creates.

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This was a great start to the project and some good skill building on pattern drafting. Click below for the final process and product!

The key to success with this sort of Project Based Homeschooling is to allow the time and to provide the resources she needs to get the job done. I also keep a project journal so I can be a good project mentor. More details on that to come as well.



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    1. Thanks Jamie! Yes, that Steampunk board is sort of an outlier compared to the rest, isn’t it? ha

      It’s been a great unit. I’m looking forward to seeing her finished work.

    1. Thanks Lori!

      This has been a great fit for her. I’m working hard at allowing her to do most of her work as project based this year. More blog posts to come. Wish I could have taken your expert class this semester to combine! When does the new session begin?

  1. Is there a book that she started with before the pattern making book that you mentioned, or did she follow store bought patterns? We are just venturing into the world of PBH and dd15 wants to make herself a manga mad hatter costume. She’s leaning towards steampunk. ; )

    1. Debbie,

      My daughter has never liked store bought patterns. Before this book she made her own and they weren’t always quite right, but she was ok with that. She could follow directions and measure dimensions. Now she is able to understand what the book is teaching her and makes patterns all the time.

      She is working on the hat right now and boy…she has costume designer written all over her!

      Very fun project ahead for your daughter! Have fun…

  2. We love to find hands-on activities to use with our literature studies and this is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen recently! Love the Steampunk inspired designs!!

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