Saturday, August 11, 2012

Traum Dressmaker Guide: What the heck is this thing?!

Once upon a time I visited my mom and she showered me with vintage sewing loot. I wrote a post on it which included a picture of my Traum Dressamker's Guide.

One reader recently saw this post and asked,

     "I also have a Traum Dressmaker Guide tool but I don't know what to do with it. Can you enlighten Me? Is this only for people who make their own patterns? What can you do with all the notches, scallops and geometric shapes? Any information you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. "

That's a good question! The thing that I find most interesting is that the designer of this nifty little object was Mary Brooks Picken. Mary who? In addition to writing several amazing pamphlets and books about everything sewing-related for The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences, Mary also wrote the well-known Singer Sewing Book.

The Traum guide is a convenient invention designed to make a few things more simple, as were Mary's sewing instructions. It's not exactly just for pattern drafting, rather, it would be quite handy for someone looking to alter or add on to an existing pattern or project.
Or, take for example a modern Burda Fashion button front shirt pattern. When you trace a pattern off of the sheet, the top buttonhole is usally given for one size only, and then you're told to space your own buttonholes appropriately. This tool would make the measurements a lot easier.

The 6" guide originally came on a little card that detailed it's many uses: 
It can be used to space and mark:
scallops, (nifty for adding scallops to the hem of tap pants, I might add)
buttons & buttonholes,
braids and other trimming details for your sewing project.

It will also give you a perfectly shaped pattern for:
and designs for embroidery.

And speaking of embroidery, braids and trims, I just signed up for a Craftsy class called Stupendous Stitching, which I'm hoping will teach me to actually use the many decorative stitches on my super fancy sewing machine. The class just happens to be on sale right now for $14.99 instead of the usual $29.99. Nice deal, huh?

Photo from Stupendous Stitching on

Has anyone ever taken a Craftsy course before? What did you think?


  1. I absolutely LOVE Craftsy :) I got an offer a while back to get any class for $15 so I got the Couture Dress class and I have learned a ton even though I haven't actually made my dress yet. I also just completed the Knit Lab class and I am now a knitting addict. It made it really easy to learn and it gave a great foundation to start out in the knitting world. I just learned to crochet and I'm going to start the Amigurumi class soon. I have an on-going list of classes I plan to buy when they go on sale :) You'll be addicted, I swear!

  2. oh... I like the buttonhole guide! Nifty. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Well I have 2 things to say :) I have taken a class at Craftsy, The Couture Dress, just like Megan did! It's an awesome class, I learned so much. My dress is about halfway to being finished. I love that you can go in anytime and go over something again and again until you understand it. I also signed up for a few more classes during this big sale! Where will I find the time? :) Second, Mary Brooks Picken wrote so many awesome books, and the lady from Indygo Junction (Amy Barickman) wrote a book about her, including many things from her books called - Vintage Notions. If you don't have this book, I highly recommend it. It's a sewing book that you can sit down and read! :)

  4. i had one of those traum guides....and i'm not that old!!! it was a great tool....wonder what ever happened to it?
    thanks for sharing!

  5. I am a Craftsy addict. I have signed up for the Khalje Couture Course, Jeanius, Knitting Lab, Drab to Fab and a few others, also bought a friend the cheese making course (which I am tempted by myself)... Worth every penny and inspiring as they are educational. I love Kenneth D King, Susan is just so warm and lovely and I can't be more grateful to KnitLab for getting me knitting again and loving it.