November 27, 2015

The Tarot of the Tailors

Going through a box in my garage the other day, I found a little paper-wrapped packet labeled Tarot of the Tailors.

Not immediately remembering it -- it had been in that box for at least seven years -- I stuck it in my back pocket and kept on with what I was doing.

When I finished up, I pulled it out and started looking it over, and was soon happily remembering more detail about this pleasing little deck.

It is, of course, not a true tarot, but a small divinatory deck intended for sewers and seamstresses. The creators are Marie Cooley, corsetier extroindinaire, and her husband Payne Fifield, who are the models for Countess Marie and Master Payne in the epic gaslamp fantasy mad science web comic Girl Genius.*

I've been yearning for one of Marie's corsets for years now, and picked these up when I thought that goal was permanently out of reach. It's still pretty much out of reach, but at least I have these.

Only 22 cards, but beautifully illustrated in a black-and-white Victorian style, with cards like The Machine, The Missing Button, The Impossible Pattern, The Period Shoe, and The Perfect Trim.

While intended as a divinitory device for sewing projects, it can certainly be applied to others. Physical, single-thing projects, mostly, I imagine. The creation of one object or a small set of objects made together, rather than an ongoing project like a business.

I ran them through Little Red Tarot's interview spread for fun. Here's what I got:

Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

The Period shoe. Balance in all things, especially of comfort and style. Practicality.

What are your strengths as a deck?

The Impossible Pattern. The concept and planning stage of a project. Temper creativity with common sense.

What are your limits as a deck?

The Curious Implement. "No matter how good the machine is, it is your skill that makes it work."

What are you here to teach me?

The Ornamental Spouse reversed. Relationships. Beware of looks being more important than substance.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you?

The Retractable Tape reversed. Beware! Measure twice, cut once. Measure three times, even.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

The Heirloom Reticule reversed. The booklet calls this "Possibly the most important card in the pack." Warnings of money troubles related to projects that become to expensive. It can give me the heads-up.

All in all, a practical deck as well as a lovely one. As I play with them, I love more and more the concept of a small oracle deck that has only one purpose: to tell you about a very narrow thing, and give you quite specific advice about it.

The Tarot of the Tailors can be found on Marie's patterns page or ordered from her directly at They're $15 each, with a special on now of buy one, get one free, to give away to that friend who needs it and doesn't know it!

*If you haven't read it you absolutely must. The entire many-year run is available both online for free and in beautiful trade paperback editions, plus there text novels and audiobooks. Go. Go go go go go go go. Come back when you come up for air.