my tools: books, machine, ‘dress form’

as I wait for my patterns to arrive:

Processed through USPS Sort Facility, April 20, 2013, 11:50 am, CHICAGO, IL 60666

let me show you what tools I own. My books, my sewing machine and my ‘dress form’.

these are the books:

  • Mouleren by Ton Verswijveren
  • The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant by Sarah Thursfield
  • How to Adjust, Adapt and Deisgn Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan
  • Knippen en Naaien met BURDA by Burda

The last two I got as a gift from two lovely friends who knew I’d be sewing a dress before I knew it myself.

Mouleren by Ton Verswijveren is all about moulage, the art of draping cloth around the human form and deducing a custom fit pattern block out of it. (I was looking for images on ‘moulage’ and got all bloody murder on my screen. It seems in the US it is the art of making fake wounds.)


It features everything from starting a simple piece of fabric on a dress form to having all the alterations in fabric and making it into pattern pieces.
Ton Verswijveren teaches this skillful art in the Netherlands and also sells custom fit dress forms.
I don’t understand everything I read yet but I do see a lot, especially paired with the reading of the next book:

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant by Sarah Thursfield.

This teaches how to make a ‘block’ off of somebody’s body and how to use that block to make historic garments.

The next book I have not read well yet. It’s How to Adjust, Adapt and Deisgn Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan.
It has a special section about how to proceed when you’ve bought a commercial pattern, that will come in handy.

Knippen en Naaien met BURDA by Burda is a book in Dutch from 1984 and it teaches the basics. Including alterations and some simple patterns. Its title translates to: “Cutting and Sewing with Burda.”

I learned a lot from it. It has lots of pictures too.The only thing is it is in Dutch, which is my mother tongue, granted, but I’ve been reading up on sewing in English and I have difficulty translating the right terms back to Dutch.
The same happened when I thought myself to knit and to spin. At least I’m consistent. I do want to learn the proper Dutch terms though because I’ll be talking to my Dutch friends about this over at my favourite group at And I’ll be buying fabric in a Dutch shop which makes it necessary to learn the fabric names well. Because I’ve got a feeling that the right fabric will make this dress and the wrong one will be eaten by my sewing machine…


It’s an old foot treadle with a boat shuttle and a part to wind up the long bobins that go aboard that shuttle. It is a good piece of equipment. It runs smooth, it runs precise.
It goes forward and it goes backward and I can adjust the stitch length. That’s about it!

It does well with cotton, felt and leather. I am really looking forward to do a smoother fabric on it like silk chiffon. But I may start with raw silk first. That is, after I’ve made a few dresses in well behaving, easy to handle fabrics.

To test my knitting garments I made a dress form last year. A couple of knitter friends got together and had a fun afternoon taping each other up.

she has no name. And after being stuffed in ‘the wool room’ for a few months she now leans back pondering ceilings.
There’s a clothes hook in there but the hook came apart from the wooden part that fortifies her shoulders. She was meant to hang, not to stand.
Oh well, it did reach the goal of shocking me into a more realistic idea of my body and better ideas of what styles suit me.


While waiting and reading I felt I do need a tracing wheel. I went to the church’s second hand shop and found one. And some bias band of which I hear great things. There were also lovely ladies helping me to pronounce it right (another haz(z)ard of learning through books and internet, you never know what you are saying). Apparently in Holland we use a French pronunciation, “bee-yay band”, is this correct?

As a sewing Bumble I’m all for Bee Yay Bands!

picture by Mikateke | Kateryna Korniienko-Heidtman

The ladies at the thrift store also prevented me from going home with a non-souple gauze to make a toile/muslin from. Instead they sold me this old sheet. It is very soft, has a small flowery pattern and even a repairment. Done with love and care.

Talk about love and care, there’s a lot of cat help around here….

“you’ve been working too long, it’s time to nap!”


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