Monday, January 3, 2011

Tutorials and Why I'm Not Writing One

As you know, I am sewing a coat and I am replacing the original visible snap with a bound buttonhole.  I've made lots of bound buttonholes over the years but it's been a few years since I made any so I made samples.  A bound buttonhole is not hard, but it does take precision marking and sewing to get perfection.  I always make more even after I get the 'good' one because as we all know the minute you do it  on the real thing, it's no longer perfect. 

There are a number of methods for making them, but my favorite is the strip method.  I saw this done on Sandra Betzina's old tv show years ago.  Margaret Islander was her guest for this and she made it look easy.  It is if you've done a lot of them!  It's the same method that  Claire Shaeffer  likes and she has very nice instructions in her book HIgh Fashion Sewing Secrets.  But it always puzzled me as to how to measure a 'scant' 1/8" and be able to accurately reproduce it every time.   I solved that  by using my edge foot, you know the one with the flange in the middle and moving my needle over as far as it will go.  Works like a charm.  One of the things I like about this method is that you can make sure that your stitching is perfectly even at the ends, ie they need to be exactly the same length.   I thought that I'd photograph a nice tutorial to put in here, but you know what?  Why reinvent the wheel when Sigrid has put together in one place a huge number of great tutorials on how to do just about anything.  You know that I love my books but sometimes you need a little more to help you get the idea. (Besides my coat is black and photographing the details in black is hard)  Shannon of the Hungry Zombie has done a very nice tutorial on the strip method.  I'll show off mine when my coat is done, or at least further along.  I am still basting interlining to the lining.  I've got to say cotton flannel is a whole lot easier to attach since it doesn't stretch!
Btw, someone asked for a source for the lambswool interlining I'm using.  Steinloff and Stoller has it and I bought it when I was last in NYC.  They are not exactly into 21st century merchandising in there, so you have to know what you want and ask for it because even if it is out on display chances are you won't be able to find it.  It's not listed on their rather limited website, so either email them or give them a call.  

I like that this method makes narrow lips, which is a hallmark of a well made buttonhole according to Claire.   This is also the method that is used on very expensive rtw or at least it was when her book was published.   Use the method that is easiest for  you.   I'd suggest that you make samples of the different methods and then choose what works for you.
Now for the link. I am making it for the site itself.  I think that you'll be able to find buttonholes without a problem. 
 Enjoy! Sigrid's Tutorials  Actually it's entitled Sewing Tutorials but Sigrid deserves some credit for putting this together.  It was a time consuming venture and it's really well done.  Thank you Sigrid.


  1. I remember you purcahsing the interlining. I did not of St. St. website recently to look for something. I wish they would put the price online. Even if I can't order it from there, I'd like to know before calling and asking.

  2. Nancy, I agree, why write a tutorial if one already exists? Sigrid's page is my favorite place to find whatever I need. I don't think I saw the strip method there, which is why I described my own take in my blog post on 9/10/2010. Of course, we all find different ways with each project to get the best results.

  3. Cidell, I know it is about as user friendly as the store! If you don't know what you want they don't want to know you! It's really not set up as a retail store even though they sell retail!

  4. Sigh. I need to practice them, thanks for the reminder.

  5. Thanks for mentioning the tutorials site Nancy. And there are so many ways of making bound buttonholes. I never knew when I started to collect the links. See that I've missed to add Robins method. Will bookmark it for my next update.