Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hand-worked Buttonhole #11

Readers, eleven buttonholes and I feel like I had an intensive Jedi training! Waxed lightsabers and the Force...

here is the result:

I am glad Yoda is not here to make me work another 989 buttonholes, because the next one will be made straight on the cape! (By the way, I know it is far from being perfect, but I got another week of relatively warm weather here and then it's over!)

Now, I wanted to thank all the commenters for being so helpful!

Suzy, you always motivated me and I really suggest you give it another try! These buttonholes get only better with practice.

Sherry, I knew you would be there to comment on yet another sewing challenge - Thanks! Readers, if you don't know Sherry, check out her blog - she hosted a great RTW Tailoring Sew-Along. Besides that, you will find many examples of great garment construction on her blog and tons of tutorials, both on RTW and couture techniques!

By the way, Sherry and Browser, I did find that video by Jeffery D earlier today and it helped a lot! It is probably the only useful video tutorial on hand-worked buttonholes!

AND don't miss this great tutorial by Paco Peralta. Paco, thank you for posting the link. In fact, I was trying to find it on your blog earlier today, but then Marie-Noele mentioned you and, then, you commented!.. Readers, I was sure Paco had something on hand-worked buttonholes - just check out his garments and impeccable construction!..

As for my cape buttonholes, I won't be testing your patience, readers, and won't post any further practice posts. I think I got the feel of it and just need to practice more. But here is one tip that helped me make some progress (of course, I am not including anything you can find in Jeffery's and Paco's tutorials) -

Focus on every stitch, but work it as part of the whole. In typography (I happened to study it), there is a process called kerning where you adjust the spacing between letters so the text looks balanced. Kerning can be tiring as you need to adjust spacing between every letter. Ed Bengiat, a great typographer and my teacher, taught me to look at three letters at a time and adjust space comparing the positive and negative spaces of the neighbouring letters. Now, in buttonholes, when you start working on you stitch, keep in mind how you did the previous one - the length, the space, the tension, everything - and make just exactly the same stitch... and another one... think how it can affect your next stitch... three stitches at a time, no distraction... patience, precision and focus is the key to making progress...

If this tip didn't inspire you, check out this insightful video (yes, I am a big Star Wars fan):

Feel the Force, readers!


  1. FAbulous links Marina! Great job on the buttonhole and as Yoda would say 'do or do not, there is no try'! xoxoox

  2. brilliant button hole, it put the one i made to shame, I think more practice is needed for me, so I will be checking those links out!

  3. I'm glad the Jeffery D. video was of some help. I try to approach visible hand sewing with something of the discipline you described in the typography analogy, but I'm only up to applying it to the overcast and prick stitch so far. The overcast stitch is much simpler than the buttonhole stitch and an old school sewing manual I read on the apparently defunct site acknowledged that was not so easy., a forum founded by an Australian tailor primarily for professionals, but which allows limited participation by nonprofessionals, recommends a series of books for tailoring novices who want to teach themselves. One is "Hand Stitches For The Fine Custom Tailored Garment" by Stanley Hostek." I bought it because I respect the forum, but it is a bit pricey for what is essentially a pamphlet with a plastic spiral binding.

    In any event, this is Hostek's introductory advice:

    Prior to actually making a practice buttonhole the stitch to be used should be perfected. A piece of fabric, folded and creased, is ideal for this.

    Buttonhole stitches, being spaced close together are easy to compare, hence great concentration is required to produce a uniform looking buttonhole. A number of factors must be considered while forming the stitch. These include spacing between stitches, depth of stitch, direction of "pull" when closing the stitch and amount of tension used to "lock" the stitch.

    Hostek then proceeds to provide specific instructions with diagrams.

    Your buttonhole looks pretty good to me from here, but I'm obviously not an expert.

  4. looks fabulous, thanks for linking Marina..!!

  5. Lovely buttonhole, Marina! I'm on a tear lately to perfect mine, so I'll be looking up all these tutorials, and checking your past posts!

  6. Oh I must have done hundreds:)) Feels like in another lifetime... I miss them!:)) Yours looks perfect!

  7. how hilarious that you brought in the star wars. i knew you were awesome, but i now i know how *really* awesome you are :-)


  8. Marina, wow - great buttonhole! Hope you are well1 XOXO

  9. When I read the opening Star Wars references I thought the first photo was the Death Star hehe! Sewing hand-worked buttonholes is hard enough I'd imagine (I've never tried them), but sewing them onto black fabric with black thread must be extra challenging. You're doing a great job!

  10. Your buttonhole looks amazing and I applaud your work! Well done!

  11. Hi Marina, followed all of your advice, and watched all the videos etc.

    However, would absolutely love it if you would do a tutorial showing us how you did your buttonhole stitch...............You have mastered it and I would love mine to look as perfect as yours.

    Thanks again for a terrific blog.



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