March 13, 2012

First handmade button hole

Last Sunday, Violet dug out a yellow dress from her closet which has a single strap on top that fastens around the neck and buttons in back. It used to have a freehanging button loop made of lightweight cord, but this broke some time back. We had mulled the idea of making a buttonhole on the strap itself as a repair, instead of recreating the free loop. So on Sunday, Violet was really pushing the buttonhole repair and asking if we could get out the electric sewing machine out to make a buttonhole.

As you may know, I am trying to not use the electric sewing machine this year. I considered breaking the resolution; its just one teeny button hole right? I have a buttonholer for the Necchi, but that machine is not able to be treadled at the moment. I had been thinking of doing hand buttonholes, and have greatly admired the ones I've seen on Jeffrey Diduch's blog. This actually seemed like the perfect chance to try it out. Only one needed, its not that visible a location, and the customer is not too demanding.

So armed with Stanley Hostek's Hand Stitches for the Fine Custom Tailored Garment I gathered up the needed supplies and set up on the kitchen counter. Below, Violet is working on her embroidery of a chicken and Millie is busy cutting up pieces of basting thread.

Here you can see the garment in question, wax, Gutermann hand silk thread, basting thread, Tire Silk buttonhole twist, scissors, and needle.

First I basted around the future buttonhole, a step perhaps made unnecessary by the narrow width of the strap.

Next I cut the hole with thread ripper and embroidery scissors.

Then I hand overcast with the Gutermann silk. So far so good.

I didn't have any gimp, so I just used a piece of the buttonhole twist as gimp. I started out the first few stitches looping the tail threads the wrong way around the needle (I think). This buttonhole was done over the course of about five hours while mostly tending children, and partly baking bread.

The above gives a general sense of what it is like to try to work on a project when Buster is awake. He would far rather that you pay attention to him than whatever other silly thing you are trying to do!

The final result. Pretty yucky. In fact its a little surprising I'm putting this on the internet. I'm proud to have done it, though not proud with the quality of the result. But the only way to get better is to do it more, so at least the first step is taken. There were a couple sections of three or four stitches which were on the right track.

In any case, I think it will hold up functionally, and the customer is happy (even though the dress is really too small for her, and it has a tear in front that also needs to be mended). So all in all I would mark it up as a successful endeavor.

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