Monday, November 15, 2010

Corps of Re-Discovery - Patchwork Quilt Kit (TOS Review)

I admit it.  I'm not crafty or inventive.  I know that crafts would "enrich" our homeschool, but seeing something that I have to put together or sew or glue or similar actions makes me want to tuck tail and run.  Naturally I worry that the girls are missing out on experiences, so I occasionally ignore the urge to run and plow right in.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Two years ago I came across Corps of Re-Discovery at a homeschool conference.  Lured into their booth by the cornhusk dolls on display, I wandered around and explored their product kits. At that time we weren't doing anything with American history and, while I was intrigued by all the craft kits they offered, I left the booth empty-handed (and, may I say, a bit relieved).

Corps of Re-Discovery is the business of a homeschool family who studied American history by studying America. Imagine an extended trek through 47 states - what is a dream for many of us became a reality for this family when they traveled the country in a 32-foot motor home for fourteen months.  Their journey inspired the family to form Corps of Re-Discovery, which offers project kits and other items relating to (a) American Indians, (b) Frontiersmen, (c) Pioneer and Colonial and (d) Leather Working.  Prices range from $1.99 (for a raccoon tail) to $71.92 (for a combination pack of six of the Pioneer kits).  You can contact Corps of Re-Discovery here.

This year at the homeschool conference was a different story, since the spine we're using covers American History - so when I walked by their booth I remembered what neat kits they offered and felt compelled to go in and actually buy something.  My girls *love* American Girl dolls, so I knew Corps of Re-Discovery's patchwork quilt kit would be a huge hit.  Problem was, they only had a few quilt kits left, and I couldn't find just the right pattern/color for Puddin.  I purchased one that I knew Punkin would like, with the intention of ordering another for Puddin from their website.

Since I'm the world's worst procrastinator, that order was never placed so the lone quilt kit sat taunting me for months.

I was delighted when I learned I'd be receiving a patchwork quilt kit from Corps of Re-Discovery to review for the TOS Homeschool crew - now both girls would have a quilt kit!  Of course, that also meant that I'd actually have to be creative, so my delight was tempered with a bit of dread.  One afternoon I bravely brought out the quilt kits to show the girls.  Luckily Puddin loved the color/pattern choice on the quilt we received for this review, so both girls were happy and ready to get started.

We took everything out of the pouches - the quilt kits come with 100% cotton pre-cut fabric pieces for the quilt top, fabric for the backing, polyester batting, thread and yarn.  Also needed to complete the quilt are a sewing needle, yarn  needle, scissors, tape measure or ruler, and an iron. 

I doled out the fabric pieces to the girls with a little explanation about how to lay them out, and off they went to plan.

Both girls worked on their layouts for quite a while - I think they were seeking quilt perfection!

While they were planning their quilt layouts, I read the three pages of instruction.  And read them again.  And again.  (Did I mention that I'm not very crafty?)  After the third time through, I became a bit frustrated with the lack of pictures/diagrams.  I grabbed a piece of paper and started reading through the instructions again, this time making diagrams as I went along.  After I finished, I had a much clearer picture of what to do and how to do it.  (Hmm...does that make me a visual learner?)  Even though the kit comes with three pages of fairly detailed instructions, it would still be beneficial to have additional diagrams included - and since the instructions are printed two-sided there is an entire side of the paper that is blank, meaning there's plenty of room for more diagrams to help non-sewers and non-quilters like me. 

By the time the girls decided on their final layout, I was too flustered to continue for very long (note this was primarily from feeling inept at projects like - no reflection on the product itself).  We sewed a few squares together, but my girls (warning - guilty admission coming) have never sewn by hand or used a sewing machine, so it wasn't really something I felt they could do on their own. Our quilts remain unfinished at the moment, simply because of scheduling issues (we're in the throes of Nutcracker rehearsals).  One note - don't let my creative failure stop you from trying the quilt kit.

After the busy-ness of the holiday season is over, we are determined to finish this project because I know the quilts will be adorable.  The patterns/colors they choose for the kits are very pretty, and I'm thrilled that most of the necessary items come in the kit (except for things that you'd normally have around the house).  I'm also hoping this project will give the girls hand-sewing skills (and confidence) so that they can continue doing projects like this.  Since Punkin loves to draw dress designs on paper, I suspect she will want to design her own quilt.  That spark of creativity will be worth 1000 times the price of the quilt kit (which, by the way, is regularly $14.99; the kit is on sale at the time of this review for $11.99).

We hope to try some of the other kits Corps of Re-Discovery offers, but won't do so until we finish the quilts.  Be sure to check out all the other kits that make fabulous hands-on activities to all American history studies.  I'll be reading with interest the reviews of my crewmates (some of whom received different kits to review), which you can find here

For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:

Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.