Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Buttonhole Saga

Holy Cow have I ever been away! But here I am to report on buttonholes; hand made vs. machine. I have trouble with buttonholes at the best of times. But the Dainty Dotted Day Dress I've been working on (or not, as I haven't really made much progress) has a very small yoke with not much room for a machine worked buttonhole. So I decided to be very clever and would work a hand made buttonhole, at least on the yoke. After all, I've done this before, on the Handsewn Diaper Shirt, seen above, using the excellent instruction in the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches.

In this closeup view, you can see that the middle one is a bit skewed and uneven, but not too awful. I figure that it should be just like embroidery, right? But in most embroidery, the fabric is kept taut in a hoop, and any cutting usually comes after the embroidery is finished. With hand made buttonholes, the fabric is cut first, then the stitching is worked around the slit, making it much harder to keep the stitches nice and even.

Above you can see my trials on the dotted swiss fabric. They go in order, left to right and top to bottom, just like reading a printed page. I finally gave up on the fifth try as the thread got tangled on the back of the fabric. So I switched to the machine, but not using the automatic buttonholer. Instead I used the separate satin stitches in 2.0 and 4.0 widths, and practiced until I was reasonably happy with the finished buttonhole.

And here is the result. As you can see, the yoke is very tiny so the normal buttonhole wheel wouldn't have any fabric on which to ride. Notice the fabric raveling in the seam allowance? This fabric is a loose weave and kept raveling while I was practicing the buttonholes and completely drove me nuts. The fabric used in the Diaper Shirt is a much finer weave and very much easier to work with. I did think of using tape to keep the threads intact but gave up and went the machine made route instead. I do think that I will try dissolving some Sulky water soluble stabilizer and dabbing that on the fabric, then working the buttonhole. It just might work.

Now it's time to tell you what I've been doing lately. Obviously, not much sewing or embroidery is going on here, but that is changing as of this weekend. Last October I decided to lose some weight, and have managed to drop 29 pounds since then. To do that takes a lot of exercising, which also takes time! Do you remember how I've mentioned here and there that I would like to get into some garment sewing for myself? Now that I'm in normal, not plus sizes (barely), I'm a lot more motivated, and tomorrow I'm taking a pants fitting class at a local fabric store. So not only do I hope to end up with a well fitting pants pattern, I'll be able to take in some of the pants I already own and don't want to throw out.

Then Lyn Weeks, an Australian heirloom sewing teacher, is coming to Southern California at the start of her American teaching tour. I'm taking several classes from her in early April so will have lots to post about.

Now, as I said at the end of the last post, it's on to the sleeves.