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View Full Version : Button holes - a right pain in the......



mirandashell
02-19-2015, 11:59 PM
sigh.

I just made a shirt. i'm quite proud of it cos it's my first one. But the button holes..... :rant:

In the end I gave up on them and just sewed the fronts together like an invisble hem. Luckily it's Grandad style so it looks fine.

I followed the instructions in the manual. I followed the instructions in my Bible of Couture Sewing. I watched a demo on Youtube.

But my machine just won't do it. It has a buttonhole setting. I have a buttonhole foot. Nope, won't do it. It will do top, one side and bottom but it won't go back the other way.

Help?

Maryn
02-20-2015, 12:56 AM
My first guess is that it's expecting you to stop at the end of one side and the bar tab at the botton, leave the needle inserted in the fabric, and turn it around.

My elderly machine has buttonhole cams (how quaint!) but they're not very good. I can make a better buttonhole with the zigzag stitch at two widths and my stitches' length close to but not at zero. Using wide zigzag, I do a tab at the top. (The 1 in the diagram below.) I leave the needle inserted in my cloth at the right side of the tab. I lift the presser foot and move the zigzag setting to half the width of the top tab. I lower the presser foot and stitch down one side in tight zigzag, the stitches so short no cloth shows through. (The 2 in the diagram.) Leave the needle in the cloth at the right again. Lift presser foot and adjust the zigzag width to the wider one I used on the top tab. Lower presser foot, create bottom tab. (The 3 in the diagram.) Leave the needle in at the left. Lift presser foot, rotate the garment 180 degrees. Lift needle from cloth carefully, then lower by hand-to-wheel so its next insertion will be almost touching the buttonhole edge already completed. Insert needle, lower presser foot, and stitch the buttonhole edge up to and a few stitches over the first tab. (The 4 in the diagram.) Pull free, clip threads to an inch or less, and finally pull them to the inside. Clip the cloth between the two narrow rows of zigzag stitch, taking care not to cut any threads. A seam ripper can help you get started until you can insert a scissors blade.

Not bad for a machine which is about forty now, and was cheap in the first place.

11111
44 22
44 22
44 22
44 22
44 22
33333

Maryn, hoping that made sense

mirandashell
02-20-2015, 01:01 AM
Ermmmmmm...

Thank you for trying! LOL!

It's the buttonhole setting on the machine I'm having the problems with. I thought it was supposed to just do it. Sigh.

I shall write down what you've given me, Maryn, and try it on my machine.

Thank you.

Orianna2000
02-20-2015, 08:21 AM
Is it a four-step buttonhole or a one-step? My old machine did four-step buttonholes and it was a PAIN in the tushie. I actually did hand-bound buttonholes every time, rather than deal with the four-step buttonholes. You had to pull the fabric through while it sewed, because the feed dogs wouldn't work. If you didn't, it would just zigzag back and forth in one place for ten minutes, ruining whatever you were trying to make.

My new machine has one-step buttonholes, which are a breeze. You line up the fabric in the right spot, lower the presser foot, hit the pedal, and it does the entire thing automatically. SO MUCH NICER! I'm not afraid to use the machine's buttonholes anymore. Which is good, because my hand-bound buttonholes sucked.

Old Hack
02-20-2015, 11:49 AM
If your machine is relatively new you might well have a local dealer who could give you a bit of training on how to do this. I have a brilliant shop near me which runs all sorts of training and courses, and they're so helpful. They don't stock my make of machine but they still let me go in with it, and helped me out with a couple of things I was struggling with.

Maryn, I like your instructions. Very helpful.

Alessandra Kelley
02-20-2015, 03:30 PM
Thanks for those instructions, Maryn. My machine is basic but it does zigzag stitching, and when I use it for buttonholes I use that technique.

Ken
02-20-2015, 04:20 PM
if all else fails, employ a needle and thread

Alessandra Kelley
02-20-2015, 07:12 PM
Buttonholes by hand are time consuming and a pain in the tush to sew.

Some of the first specialty sewing machines (http://www.collectorsweekly.com/sewing/non-singer-machines) made as early as the 1860s were devoted to buttonhole sewing (http://www.sewalot.com/american_sewing_machine.htm). It was a huge deal and time-saver.

I actually do sew most of my buttonholes by hand, but I am a hobbyist and find it relaxing. I would probably go mad if I had to sew buttonholes regularly.

mirandashell
02-20-2015, 10:07 PM
Is it a four-step buttonhole or a one-step? My old machine did four-step buttonholes and it was a PAIN in the tushie. I actually did hand-bound buttonholes every time, rather than deal with the four-step buttonholes. You had to pull the fabric through while it sewed, because the feed dogs wouldn't work. If you didn't, it would just zigzag back and forth in one place for ten minutes, ruining whatever you were trying to make.



Yep! That's exactly what mine does! And pulling the fabric through makes it really difficult to get the tension the same on both sides.

Does anyone make a machine that only makes buttonholes? One-step preferably! LOL!

Alessandra Kelley
02-20-2015, 10:20 PM
Yep! That's exactly what mine does! And pulling the fabric through makes it really difficult to get the tension the same on both sides.

Does anyone make a machine that only makes buttonholes? One-step preferably! LOL!

Apparently so, since at least the 1860s.

There seem to be a lot of industrial suppliers of buttonhole machines, new and refurbished:
http://www.juki.co.jp/industrial_e/products_e/apparel_e/cat86/
http://www.amfreece.com/d285-eyelet-buttonhole-machines.html
http://www.stocks.co.uk/industrial-sewing-machines/industrial-button-buttonhole-sewing-machine.html
http://www.rowlson.co.uk/shop-pages/products-uk-used-machines-durkopp-adler-578-button-hole.html
http://www.advance-enterprises.co.uk/section/175/1/button_hole
https://www.hobkirk.co.uk/industrial-sewing-machines-used

Some less industrial places:

http://www.brother.com/as_oc/ism/lock/buttonhole/
http://www.miamisewing.com/specials/buttonhole&buttonsew.htm

mirandashell
02-20-2015, 10:42 PM
Ooooh thank you! I shall check out the prices.

MaryMumsy
02-20-2015, 11:57 PM
I have a sturdy old Singer, purchased new in 1968. I opted not to go for bells and whistles. It does zig-zag, but not button holes. I bought an attachment just for button holes. You remove the presser foot and clamp this thing on. Works a dream. I knew about it because Mom had one for her circa 1945 Singer. She used to make all my clothes when I was little, including a wool coat. Perfect button holes every time.

MM

Ken
02-22-2015, 01:26 AM
Inspected a buttonhole to find out what would be entailed in making one, manually. I had no idea they were that involved and time consuming like you say. Yikes! That's gotta be the hardest part of making a shirt. If you can do that by machine then machines are awesome for that alone.

mirandashell
02-22-2015, 01:37 AM
Tell me about it! Saves so much time which is why I'm seriously considering paying extra just for a button hole maker.

Ken
02-22-2015, 03:34 PM
If you can get one for 20 pounds or so I'd say that'd be a good investment.

ps Cool you made a shirt.

Filigree
02-22-2015, 04:25 PM
I have a buttonhole attachment for the Elna I bought in 1998, but I'm ashamed to say I've never used the attachment. I always sew holes the way Maryn describes. Once - once! - I did fancy couture buttonholes* with inlaid plackets and invisible seaming, but that was for three bigger buttons on a coat. Can't imagine them with tiny shirt buttons!

One thing that saved me was ironing a square of interfacing behind where the buttonhole will go. That does make the sewing and cutting easier.

* Like this search string:https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=800&bih=519&q=Couture+buttonholes&oq=Couture+buttonholes&gs_l=img.12..0.2142.9721.0.11098.19.13.0.6.6.0.128 .1424.3j10.13.0.msedr...0...1c.1.62.img..0.19.1518 .sbWPaYhmPI0

Orianna2000
02-22-2015, 05:56 PM
I don't know how much buttonhole machines are, but you can get a sewing machine that does one-step buttonholes for around $80. Like this one, the Brother XL2600I (http://www.amazon.com/Brother-XL2600I-Affordable-25-Stitch-Free-Arm/dp/B000F7DPEQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612861&sr=8-5&keywords=sewing+machine+one-step+buttonhole).

The one I had was a bit more expensive, it was the Singer Stylist (http://www.amazon.com/7258-Stylist-Award-Winning-100-Stitch-Computerized/dp/B003KK807M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612941&sr=8-1&keywords=singer+stylist), which is currently selling for around $165. But it's computerized and has a lot of auto-features. My current machine is the Singer Quantum Stylist Touch (http://www.amazon.com/9985-Quantum-Stylist-960-Stitch-Computerized/dp/B00FV8PZFQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612941&sr=8-5&keywords=singer+stylist), which sells for around $550, but it's an awesome machine and does lovely buttonholes. The best feature? When you're done sewing, you just tap a button and it automatically cuts the thread and raises the needle for you. I'm utterly spoiled by it. :D

Old Hack
02-22-2015, 06:02 PM
If you can get one for 20 pounds or so I'd say that'd be a good investment.

ps Cool you made a shirt.

I'd say it would be an amazing investment. Good sewing machines with features like that cost a LOT more than 20.


I don't know how much buttonhole machines are, but you can get a sewing machine that does one-step buttonholes for around $80. Like this one, the Brother XL2600I (http://www.amazon.com/Brother-XL2600I-Affordable-25-Stitch-Free-Arm/dp/B000F7DPEQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612861&sr=8-5&keywords=sewing+machine+one-step+buttonhole).

The one I had was a bit more expensive, it was the Singer Stylist (http://www.amazon.com/7258-Stylist-Award-Winning-100-Stitch-Computerized/dp/B003KK807M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612941&sr=8-1&keywords=singer+stylist), which is currently selling for around $165. But it's computerized and has a lot of auto-features. My current machine is the Singer Quantum Stylist Touch (http://www.amazon.com/9985-Quantum-Stylist-960-Stitch-Computerized/dp/B00FV8PZFQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612941&sr=8-5&keywords=singer+stylist), which sells for around $550, but it's an awesome machine and does lovely buttonholes. The best feature? When you're done sewing, you just tap a button and it automatically cuts the thread and raises the needle for you. I'm utterly spoiled by it. :D

I have a Janome Horizon 7700. It was a gift from a very kind friend, who inherited it and had no use for it. It's a lovely machine, but even so, its buttonholes are not the best.

Filigree
02-22-2015, 07:51 PM
Mmm, the Janome machines. When I take my Elna in for tune-ups at my local sewing machine place (King's, in Mesa) I always drool at the Janome pretties. If money were no object, I'd get one of the really high-end machines and invest in vector software to translate my own designs and text to embroidery. My artwork would have so much more dimension then. I wouldn't have to do so much hand embroidery. Alas, that is a daydream right now.

I make do with the sturdy little Elna.

Old Hack
02-22-2015, 09:20 PM
My Janome is wonderful: it's powerful, and fast, and mostly makes beautiful stitches. The huge throat-space makes working on big things so much easier.

But it really doesn't like the thicker threads I like to quilt with: it will put up with them when I quilt in straight lines but for free motion quilting? It's terrible. It's in the menders again right now, because it's taken exception to my determination to quilt with thicker threads. It looks like my ancient Brother machine is what I'll use for that work in future.

Ken
02-22-2015, 09:34 PM
you can get a sewing machine that does one-step buttonholes for around $80. Like this one, the Brother XL2600I (http://www.amazon.com/Brother-XL2600I-Affordable-25-Stitch-Free-Arm/dp/B000F7DPEQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1424612861&sr=8-5&keywords=sewing+machine+one-step+buttonhole).

Cute little machine :-)


I'd say it would be an amazing investment. Good sewing machines with features like that cost a LOT more than 20.



Oops. Figured a buttonhole maker that just made buttonholes was up for consideration. A handheld contraption, which could be used independently of a machine. Seems like there'd be use of something of the sort, since buttonholes are common things to make.

harmonyisarine
02-22-2015, 10:09 PM
I do buttonholes like Maryn, due to owing multiple very old machines that would laugh if you asked them to do one automatically. Though, frankly, I still prefer Maryn's method to the 4-step "automatic" one my mom's machine has.

And those couture buttonholes look like a nightmare. I'm moderately horrified at myself for wanting to go try to make some on scrap fabric.

mirandashell
02-22-2015, 11:17 PM
If you can get one for 20 pounds or so I'd say that'd be a good investment.

ps Cool you made a shirt.

Thank you! I learnt a lot doing it. I'm now making a coat out of bright orange corduroy. I love orange.

mirandashell
02-22-2015, 11:20 PM
Oops. Figured a buttonhole maker that just made buttonholes was up for consideration. A handheld contraption, which could be used independently of a machine. Seems like there'd be use of something of the sort, since buttonholes are common things to make.

So did I. The ones on the links looked good but I haven't found a price yet. Probably a lot more than $20 unfortunately.

Ken
02-24-2015, 01:33 AM
I'm now making a coat out of bright orange corduroy. I love orange.

Orange is a nice color and corduroy a nice fabric. Been wanting a pair of corduroy pants for the longest time. Especially for winter. Not sure if they are warmer than ordinary pants but the material seems to be thicker and more insulating. And it's a neat fabric. Probably would go for navy.

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 02:23 AM
Send me your measurements. I'll make you some! :D

Ken
02-24-2015, 03:08 AM
32" x 32" / (81.28 centimeters)

further details available on request :-)

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 03:11 AM
5'10 and thin?

Ken
02-24-2015, 03:13 AM
6'

just yer average joe :-)

Orianna2000
02-24-2015, 03:40 AM
A couple of tips for working with corduroy--first, make sure you wash and dry the fabric at least three times before cutting your pattern. If you don't do this beforehand, your finished garment will shrink. Also, make sure you clean your sewing machine every day during the project, because corduroy produces a lot of lint, which can clog your machine.

Maryn
02-24-2015, 05:31 AM
32" x 32" / (81.28 centimeters)

further details available on request :-)For Ken: http://us.dockers.com/product/index.jsp?productId=49880226&cp=&sr=1&kw=corduroy&origkw=corduroy&parentPage=search&ab=

Yes, corduroy pants are warmer. They trap more air, holding it close to the body, where it warms. Something like a wet suit, only dry. You see them in truly cold climates.

Maryn, whose husband has one pair, maybe two

MaryMumsy
02-24-2015, 05:45 AM
A couple of tips for working with corduroy--first, make sure you wash and dry the fabric at least three times before cutting your pattern. If you don't do this beforehand, your finished garment will shrink. Also, make sure you clean your sewing machine every day during the project, because corduroy produces a lot of lint, which can clog your machine.

The worst fabric I ever worked with was when I made my Dad a velour bathrobe for Christmas about 20 years ago. I had to clean out the lint multiple times per day. But he loved it, and was still wearing it up until he died a year ago. It is hanging in the closet of his bedroom at my house.

MM

Ken
02-24-2015, 03:52 PM
Thanks Maryn. Great price! Corduroys at last :-)

(Good tip Orianna.)

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 04:50 PM
A couple of tips for working with corduroy--first, make sure you wash and dry the fabric at least three times before cutting your pattern. If you don't do this beforehand, your finished garment will shrink. Also, make sure you clean your sewing machine every day during the project, because corduroy produces a lot of lint, which can clog your machine.

Oh great..... now you tell me..... bugger.

Alessandra Kelley
02-24-2015, 04:56 PM
Oh great..... now you tell me..... bugger.

It's good to know. Rather than fret, think of this as excellent advice for now and future projects.

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 05:00 PM
I guess.... it's good for future projects but this coat is almost finished. I just have to HK finish the seams and sew in the lining.

Oh well.....

Orianna2000
02-24-2015, 05:30 PM
Well, if it's a coat, you probably won't be washing it very much, right? If you do wash it, use cold water and let it drip-dry, instead of putting it in the dryer. That should help reduce shrinkage.

I'm really curious, why would you Hong Kong finish the seams AND line it? If it's lined, the seams don't show, so there's no need to spend all that time binding them. If you want to be sure there's no fraying--which corduroy is prone to do--use pinking shears (on straight edges only, never on bias or curved edges) and zigzag along the edges of the seam allowances, or use an overlock stitch (with an overlock presser foot) to finish the edges. Then you can line it, knowing it'll be secure.

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 05:55 PM
That's true! And thanks for the tip on drying.

Sorry if I came across a bit rude. It was just I lost a little enthusiasm when I realised it won't fit after the first wash.

I'm HKing the seams to learn how. I learn best by doing and as all the materials I'm using were donated, it seems a good oppportunity.

Orianna2000
02-24-2015, 07:29 PM
Ah. If you need help, I wrote an article on seam finishing, which details seven different methods, including HK binding. I posted it at my website not long ago.

(And don't worry, you didn't come across as rude.)

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 07:51 PM
I think you sent to me? That's what I'm using! I read how and then do it.

Serenity Bear
02-24-2015, 10:18 PM
I was taught dress making at school. One of the first things you learn is to sew a button hole by hand, using button hole stitch and one of the last things to use the sewing machine for the same thing.

I've done a lot of both and by far prefer the first method, the later needs a lot of practice to get it right.

Orianna2000
02-24-2015, 11:08 PM
Miranda, I thought I'd sent you something else. But if you've got it, that's great! (My memory isn't the greatest.)

Serenity, it takes a lot of practice to do buttonholes by hand, too. My sewing machine will make automatic buttonholes without any fuss. They don't look like something you'd find on a couture garment, but they're easy. I can make a passable hand-bound buttonhole, but nothing I'd want on my outer garments, where people could see them.

I spent all day yesterday (off and on) sewing a tiered doll skirt. Lots of gathering! I finally finished it, and put it on the doll to mark where to place the hooks. Only it wouldn't close at the waist--it was about an inch too small! I was furious, until I realized what had happened. I had the waistband and the placket facing side-by-side on my cutting table and I must've grabbed the facing when I went to sew the waistband. The facing was the same width, but about an inch shorter, so that makes sense. I had to rip the waistband off and replace it, which wasn't difficult, but time-consuming. And frustrating. I hate having to repeat the same things over again. But the skirt's finished and looks marvelous, so all's well that end's well, I suppose.

mirandashell
02-24-2015, 11:58 PM
Instead of button holes, I made a corded fastening in the shape of a fleur-de-lis with a long loop to go over the button. It looks really nice and I can sew it on securely without the threads showing as I can hide them in the cording.

But yeah, redoing something because you sewed the wrong thing to the wrong thing is bloody annoying! LOL!

Filigree
02-25-2015, 05:37 AM
Orianna, checking out your website now. I need more primers on couture sewing, since I know only the basics.

Orianna2000
02-25-2015, 06:21 AM
I'm always sewing the wrong thing to the wrong thing. One time, I sewed a sleeve to the neckline! Talk about aggravation, geeze. The big mistakes do seem to be getting farther apart, though, so perhaps I'm improving.

Filigree, most of my website is basic stuff, meant for my students. I only have a few of the more advanced techniques on there. But, I highly recommend Couture Sewing Techniques (http://www.amazon.com/Couture-Sewing-Techniques-Revised-Updated/dp/1600853358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424830736&sr=8-1&keywords=couture+sewing), if you want to learn more about advanced sewing. It's where I learned a lot of the techniques I use in my personal sewing, like using faced hems, avoiding backstitching, etc.

mirandashell
02-25-2015, 11:15 PM
I'm always sewing the wrong thing to the wrong thing. One time, I sewed a sleeve to the neckline!

:ROFL:

Sorry, sorry! But that just caused the maddest mental picture!

Orianna2000
02-26-2015, 01:46 AM
:ROFL:

Sorry, sorry! But that just caused the maddest mental picture!

It's okay. It was pretty hilarious! Not at the time . . . I was exasperated beyond belief when I realized what I'd done. But looking back, yup, it's funny. :)

mirandashell
02-26-2015, 02:41 AM
I spent most of today trying to line a sleeve with a beautiful silk that frays when you look at it! Gaahh!

In the end I put bias binding around the edges and then turned it inside out and sewed it to the sleeve. Whilst covered in threads. As was the sofa, the carpet, the sewing table......

Orianna2000
02-26-2015, 04:22 AM
Fray Check is your best friend. Dab it along the edge of the fabric and it will seal it, so it won't fray. Just be very careful not to drip or smear it on any other part of the fabric. It will either discolor it, or leave a permanent watermark, like it's wet, even after it dries. They claim rubbing alcohol will remove it, but it's a lie.

Pinking shears are also helpful, but only if you're cutting on the straight grain. If your cutting curves or on the bias, they won't work.

Old Hack
02-26-2015, 11:48 AM
I use 505 spray-glue to baste the quilts I make, and it works well for temporarily sealing fraying edges. It washes out completely, and doesn't gum up the sewing machine needle like a lot of products do.

mirandashell
02-26-2015, 04:00 PM
My mom, who made theatre costumes for local companies, always complained about glue gumming up her needles so I never thought about using something on the edges.

Orianna2000
02-26-2015, 05:15 PM
If you use it just on the edges, the needle won't come near it.

mirandashell
02-26-2015, 05:37 PM
True! I might give it a try.