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Whos Got the Buttonhole?
(Originally published in the
Winter 1998 issue of Total Embellishment News.)
Since the holidays always seem to drain the
budget and January generally brings quiet, winter nights for
sewing, keep the budget intact and experiment with the art of
buttonhole embellishing. Quick-to-make buttonholes are a great
way to create a project thats long on style and short on
expense. Choose between Neckline
Weaving #013, Buttonhole
Woven Vest #014, or Jeanines
Buttonhole Embellished Jacket #015 to perfect and
show off your buttonhole skills.
Doin it right:
- Always work a practice buttonhole on
actual interfaced fabric scraps before beginning a
- If your machine doesnt make
tension adjustments automatically, be sure to make the
change. Lower upper tension allows the bobbin threads to
pull the top satin stitches down into the fabric,
creating a lovely finish on the buttonhole right side.
- Always stabilize buttonholes. Since
decorative buttonholes may be placed at any angle,
including the true bias, its important to interface
the areas where the buttonholes will be placed. Its
also wise to position a square of tear-away stabilizer
behind each buttonhole before stitching to add additional
body and stability.
- Consider marking your buttonholes with
Space TapeTM, a see-through sticky tape that
includes markings for vertical and horizontal buttonholes
1/2" to 1" in size. Note: Regular frosted Magic
TapeTM can be hand-marked and used instead.
You can also sew and work your buttonhole right through
the tape for additional stability . . . just pull off the
excess when youre finished.
- Cording adds richness and stability to
machine-made buttonholes. Refer to your machine
instruction booklet for details on making corded
buttonholes. After stitching a corded buttonhole use a
needle to pull the cord ends to the wrong side. Tie the
ends in a square knot, dot the knot with a small drop of
seam sealant and clip off the excess thread.
- Start applying buttonholes at the
least conspicuous point and work to the most conspicuous
point. (We all generally improve with practice.)
- If interfacing or stabilizer happen to
"peek" out from under your buttonholes, use
permanent magic markers in the appropriate color to mask
the color show-through
The Buttonhole Woven Vest is a fun first
project and also utilizes decorative stitches form your sewing
- Solid-color fabric for your favorite
dartless vest pattern. (The drawing is an actual vest
front but is intended to be used as a guide for
buttonhole placement. The measurements stated on the
pattern can be adapted to any style vest pattern in any
- Six 1/2"-wide x vest-length
fabric tubes. (Tube fabric should be cut 11/2" wide,
sewn with a 1/4"-wide seam allowance, turned right
side out and pressed flat, creating a 1/2"-wide
finished fabric tube. Make all the fabric tubes from one
printed fabric or three different, coordinating prints.)
- Air-soluble marking pen or pencil.
- Thread for decorative stitching and
for basic sewing .
- Space TapeTM or Magic TapeTM.
- Mark buttonhole guide lines on the
vest front by placing a strip of Space TapeTM
starting at the mid-shoulder point and going straight
down to the vest hem. Tape placement should be parallel
to the grain line. Add subsequent parallel rows of tape 1
3/4" apart, forming three rows down the front. Refer
to Pattern #014 as you position the tape.
- Mark buttonhole guide lines on the
left vest front by securing additional tape and creating
a mirror image of the right vest.
- Refer to the marking guide and mark
staggered pairs of 5/8"-long buttonholes the length
of the rows and perpendicular to the tape strips so they
will be on the crosswise grain.
- Sew the buttonholes, using the memory
feature of your sewing machine for size consistency.
- Cut the buttonholes, then weave the
prepared fabric strips though the buttonholes as shown.
- Back the vest fronts with tear-away
stabilizer and sew decorative stitching rows between the
- Remove the excess tear-away
stabilizer, press the vest fronts and complete the vest
according to the pattern directions.
simple neckline weaving can be used to embellish the front and/or
back neckline of almost any garment or reshaped for the outer
edge of a jacket or vest. Add a special touch by pressing a
diamond-shaped metallic iron-on in the space between the
buttonholes or add a button for additional color. Use this idea
to create your own customized buttonhole embellished project.
Kids love this threading trick -- let them weave their own ribbon
or trim through the holes.
Mosers creation is a wonderfully interesting design that
will definitely have people talking about you behind your back!
Developed at a sewing retreat we attended
in Gleneden Beach, Ore. last November, Jeanine wove 4 lengths of
ready-made, satin, bias tubing through each series of buttonholes
and then tied a knot in each tube end to finish it.
To make Jeanines Buttonhole
- Copy the design onto tear-away
- Thread your machine with thread
slightly lighter than the garment color.
- Position the marked tear-away
stabilizer behind the jackets left shoulder area
and sew along all buttonhole beginning and ending lines
and across buttonhole placement lines.
- Apply machine stitched buttonholes
using the stitched marks as placement guide lines.
- Remove tear-away stabilizer and
stitching guide lines.
- Cut the buttonholes and weave prepared
fabric tubes through the buttonholes. Baste tube ends at
the shoulder area.
- Finish tube ends with beads or a knot
and construct the jacket following the pattern guide
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