Sunday, September 26, 2010

Button, Button, Who's got the button???

I am really enjoying the challenge of my CJ. While it is a lot of handwork, I don't mind and find that the amount is just as much as I have put into some other garments I have made. I love handwork and I love "intense sewing" so this is right up my alley. Here you can see all the pieces quilted with the quilting pinned out of the way. I pulled the threads to between the lining and shell and tied them off, that is all the threads except the hem as I am not sure about the length yet.


But this buttonhole thing...............Accckkkk! Between yesterday and today I have focused six and a half hours trying to work out the correct buttonhole for this garment and making samples. I have tested techniques, sewing machines, all sorts of threads, interfacings, etc. My inspiration is  the article by Claire Schaeffer in Great Sewn Clothes. There is a lovely red boucle Chanel jacket with  a great shot of the buttonholes. There is also a detailed sidebar tutorial of the technique to make them. The plan was to make hand wrought BHs on the outside and bound BHs in the lining behind as per the article. After lots of sampling here is what I decided:


Technique: After doing a hand wrought BH as prescribed by Schaeffer, I decided to follow my Aussie friend Lexie's advice. This meant I would do a machine made buttonhole and work the hand stitched one on top. I also did the buttonhole stitch the way I learned, not Schaeffer's. She does a figure eight loop with her needle where as I pick up a single loop. I don't see any difference and will use the method I know.

Machine: The competitors were my ten year old Pfaff and my 35 year old Kenmore. The goal was to make an eyelet style buttonhole. The clear and final winner was the Kenmore Behemoth. Here are the Pfaff eyelet buttonholes. Pfaff puts what I would call a tadpole's ass on the end and they are just awful no matter what other factors were considered.

 Here are the Kenmore eyelets. You are seeing these on the back of the boucle with interfacing. They are really nearly invisible on the fashion fabric.

 Threads: The best results came from using a fine 60 weight cotton thread for the machine buttonhole. Then I worked the hand buttonhole on top in silk buttonhole thread.

Here is my first attempt at the this combination. You can see on one side of the buttonhole  the purls aren't that even but by the time I got to the other side and the eye they were nice and straight. I used the wonderful magnifying glasses I won from Birgitte to do the hand sewing. I think the final product would have been smoother but we are stitching on lumpy inconsistent fabric here, folks. Schaeffer's BHs have lots of negative space between the stitches. If you look about an inch below the BH you will see the machine made eyelet BH in the fine thread, pretty invisible.

So in summary: Kenmore sewing machine, 60 weight embroidery thread for the machine BH. Silk BH twist for the hand BH on top and all of this MANY samples later. You have to make samples but you have heard me preach this before. Here is a peak at the button I chose. It is an antique coppery look with a pinkish undertone from La Mode.  I really like it. I had to get my trim as well. I now know why the overlaps were so large in the original pattern. The jacket needed to accommodate the width of the trim before you hit the BHs centered over CF.

All of the machine buttonholes are made and waiting for their hand worked BHs on top. The hours are adding up. So far the tally is 29.5 hours. None of those hours include muslin making and fitting.

A big thank you to my Aussie friend Lexie. I wish she had a blog so you could see her work. Instead I will link you to her latest impeccable creation. 

Trims are up next and while I have the components, which I needed for measuring, I am going to try a few different options with them. More to come...Bunny

18 comments:

  1. Wow Bunny! You are amazingly dedicated. I can't wait to see it done. But I have to admit that I would be going nuts about now with all the details. The buttonholes are lovely and buttonholes CAN make a person like me crazy. I am glad you found one you like. The jacket is going to be just gorgeous!

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  2. I am so glad you found a solution and ended your frustration! I love the copper button!!!

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  3. Great solution. Your buttonholes are going to be amazing. 29 hours and counting, huh. I hope you love this when you're done!

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  4. The buttonhole is perfect. Worth the samples.

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  5. Bunny, I love sewing along with you on your CJ, since I am not finished with mine yet. So far, I am really happy that mine closes with hooks and eyes, ie, no buttonholes! I loved the quilting part -- but just wait til you get into setting that sleeve in -- and getting that lining in. Very fiddly! Yours will be a work of art, I am sure! Can't wait to see the next installment!

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  6. That Kenmore is the machine I used for years and years. My daughter knocked it off on the floor and broke it. I loved that machine and never had any problems with it. Used it for over twenty years. The buttonholer on that machine was great. I could always make great buttonholes with it. I have a top of the line Brother and I don't think it's buttonholes match that old Kenmore. Wish I still had it. Your jacket is beautiful. You sure don't mind a detailed pattern.

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  7. Oh Bunny
    You post these wonderful photos of your fabric and impeccable workmanship! Ever since you bought the lovely bouclé I’ve wanted to get the same one. The colours vary from photo to photo so I managed to convince myself that it would not suit me(!) but the photo showing the button has set me off again. You’re a really awful person to have such exquisite taste! Do tell us which photo shows the best representation of the fabric’s colour combinations? Of course I’m sure the bouclé sold out immediately you posted about it so I’m sure coveting in the fabric will do me no good, anyway! Needless to say I am so impressed with all of your projects, your skills and good taste: your detailed blog posts are a joy to read.
    Very kind regards
    Juliet, Thames Valley, UK

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  8. I am completely cracked up over the "tadpole's ass" buttonhole! Ha! The BH technique you are using is very, very clever, and one I will defiitely try. I am thinking about how to control the uneven weave of boucle, and other fabrics, in regard to the BH. I'm wondering if it would work to put a layer of something sheer, like organza, on top of the fabric and sew the BH through both layers. Trim the organza away and then hand-work the buttonhole. Humm.

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  9. Hi Bunny,
    what a great post about the BH's! I will use this as a reference if I ever get back to my CJ. Thanks so much for all the detail. Your work is lovely.

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  10. Bunny I was on the floor about "tadpole's ass". But you are so right. Your craftsmanship is impeccable and inspirational.

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  11. I love following your adventures. The handsewn on top of the machine one is inspired! I miss my Mother's Singer rocketeer machine with the buttonhole attachment. It made great buttonholes, and none of my newer machines ever do it as well.

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  12. A great testament to the importance of making samples and not being satisfied with "good enough". My machine does not make a good keyhole buttonhole either. It's not the tail end, it's the eyelet end that doesn't line up.

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  13. Beautiful, patient work! Your jacket front will be superb. Oh, and it's nice to see someone else using an ancient Kenmore for everyday sewing ;)))

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  14. Very Nice...you are moving right along. I've been stalled out on my jacket. Started muslin but haven't gotten back to it. This is turning out nicely and all the extra time will be worth the beautiful results!

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  15. I've never done handmade buttonholes either but with this fabulous post I have a wonderful guide to make the perfect combo of machine and handwork. Love it!

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  16. What a gorgeous buttonhole you developed! This promises to be a very special jacket.

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  17. The buttonholes turned out perfect!

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  18. What model is your Kenmore? It made a lovely buttonhole!

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