Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The "Dressmaker's Companion" Found in Japan

I went fabric shopping in Japan. Of course I did. No surprise there. I'm even now a card carrying member of a Japanese fabric store, because becoming a member saved me some money on all the fabric I was buying. . . .

That said, fabric was not the only sewing related item I brought home with me. In in pile, in the back of a rather jumbled recycle shop, I found this box.

It was sitting wide open, and the contents caught my eye.

Button hole chisels!! Immediately I knew what those paper wrapped things were! I've been wanting button hole chisels (I'm not entirely sure that's the correct term, if you know better, please advise) for the past year, ever since I saw a video on Instagram of someone opening button holes with one.

There are two button hole chisels/openers in this set. One about 1/2" wide, and one about 1/4" wide.

Along with the chisels, I found two other equally useful wooden-handled sewing tools in the box.

A leather punch.

And a nice, pointy, awl. You can tell this has been the most used of all the tools - and its usefulness is not over yet!

Accompanying the wooden-handled tools is a thimble-ring-thing.

And a measuring tape, with inches on one side. . .

And centimeters on the other.

In the top of the box, I found these rulers.

I'm not entirely sure what they are used for, but they're small. . .

And very interesting shapes! Almost like miniature pattern drafting rulers.

If anyone knows anything else about these things, please let me know!

I immediately recognized the final item I discovered in the box.

Thread snips! I've been using these regularly at my sewing machine ever since I returned home last week.

I found an excuse to try out the larger button hole chisel when I made myself a new pair of shorts over the weekend. I'm not sure my dad will be getting his small rubber mallet back any time soon, as it works perfectly with the chisels!

Now I just need to find a project which will allow me to use the awl! Maybe this little box is just the excuse I need to finally make the corsets I've been planning for months! The awl will be very useful next time I need to set a bunch of grommets!

As fun as new fabric is, this  little box, labeled "Dressmaker's Companion" is definitely the most exciting sewing-related item that came home with me from Japan!


  1. What a great find! And the shorts are super cute, too!

  2. Looks like you got some neat fabri! The dressmakers companion is very interesting. Hopefully some one will know what a couple of those things are used for.

    1. Thanks! I'm looking forward to using all the fabric! From sharing this blog post I've already learned the thing I thought was a leather punch is actually for opening key-hole button holes!

  3. I'm a huge fan of tools. These are wonder wonderful. :-)

  4. Those tools are an awesome find! They look really nice and well made.
    The funny shaped rullers look similar to the type of rulers they use for altering patterns,only smaller.
    But despite the size disparity, my guess would still be that they have something to do with drafting/altering patterns.

    1. Thanks! I was thinking the rulers looked like mini drafting rulers, I'm just wondering what they were used to draft!

  5. Hi, again, replying very late, but the little drafting ruler is like what we used in city and guilds to draft a pattern in quarter size so as to see how we might incorporate style lines, etc. This gives you a good idea of what the garment might be like and pattern shapes needed without using loads of paper.
    I think the other piece then would aid in the effort by providing most used curves and the set ruler to get true squared off corners. So for instance, there is a armscye curve on the upper left. A back neckline next to that. matching sleeve shoulder curve on top right (not accounting for the usual different shape for front and back shoulder.) There are options for front necklines, some very low, but probably for some kimono. Perhaps most of it relates to kimono because you would have more standardised shapes - men's kimono and women's kimono.
    The more I think about it, the more I think that making up the 1/4 scale styles may have been for approval for a design? But, then again, it might have been used for making the clothing for the miniature court that Japanese display for girl's day..
    PRobably not related to the tools, but still kept in one place to find them!!
    The Tools are absolutely an amazing find!!