Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My hand-worked buttonholes challenge! Yuck!

Friends, I am in the middle of a self-imposed challenge. As you may have guessed I am challenging myself to hand-worked buttonholes. Can you believe it, my cape... I quilted it using Chanel techniques, hand-felled the lining and attached the chain to make it fall better.... blah-blah-blah

Now, I wanted to have hand-worked buttonholes! Ehm, I've seen a few bloggers / home-sewers like myself, do them... and I must say, (oh forgive me my fellow seamstresses!), I haven't seen anyone who has mastered them... well, authors admit it as well...

In my foolishness, I thought I wax the tread, sew them tidily and post a tutorial here. But, friends, I got three test buttonholes on scraps and here is the result:

Yuck!.. Yuck!.. Yes, and as you can see, I lost patience with the upper edge of the buttonhole!

Yes, and I am waxing! A lot!.. By the way, I am becoming frustrated with the regular wax available for home sewers in stores... what is it, Dritz, I think. (Spoiler alert, readers! Stay tuned to learn about good stuff, it's being now packaged for me...)

Back to buttonholes: I know the basics, those posted elsewhere as well, but what's the point of creating a tute repeating the same stuff as long as the results are less than satisfactory. So, I have plunged into deep research about buttonholes and found some interesting hints. But, most importantly I am practicing and practicing and practicing....

On some forum I read someone mention 1000 buttonholes to become a pro?

Oh, I am not going to post all of those 1000 buttonholes here  just some progress. Will I ever be able to wear my cape this year?

Watch me!

Have you had any experience with hand-worked buttonholes? Post links! 


  1. Oh gosh! I though once of attempting hand worked buttonholes (on my cape as well actually) but quickly gave up.

    I think you will master it and wear the cape this year, so look forward to seeing it!

  2. I agree, these are really hard! I've tried without success, but have since read JeffreyD's (I think!) tutorial that had a few extra tips I could have done with at the time. I thought also that a generous 'bight width' might help for a start. Good luck and have fun practising! Your cape is going to be beautiful.

  3. I know very well what you are tlaking about. Even Paco Peralta told me once that he thought that his hand buttonholes wanted paractice. I must say that your dark fabric doesnt help. Good luck.

  4. Hi Marina .- Indeed, not my best work. There are people who have a "special grace" to make hand buttonholes. In my case, the practice has not been enough (I do not frustrate you). This is my tutorial, maybe I can be of help.-


    Kind regards,


  5. I've done a lot of hand sewing on garments, but no buttonholes as of yet. They're known to be very hard. Many large bespoke tailoring firms have people who specialize in buttonholes. I know a fashion design teacher who sews beautifully who said s/he wasn't very good at them, and that if we wanted to learn we should take a course with one of the older tailors who teaches. Not that mere instruction would be enough -- 1,000 buttonholes might be the number for actually mastering it.

    As someone noted, Jeffery Diduch, a bespoke tailor, did a post (or two) on this subject.


    I want to make a Chanel-style jacket, too. I've taken a hand-quilting class, an Haute Couture sewing class, and various other technique classes that should give me enough background, plus, I intend to get some supervision. But if I can't get the buttonholes right I might find someone to do them, For all I know, that will cost more than all the materials put together. :-)

  6. funny thing, I never used the wax that they sell for sewing, I use the lovely beeswax that I first picked up for book binding. I figure these things are pretty similar and it never gives me any trouble...is that weird? hehe

  7. Hi there,

    I am suffering angst at the moment, practising my buttonholes, for the Chanel style jacket I am making.

    Begining to think its all in the technique...........can you shed any light on how you perfected it. I have read so many blogs, posts etc, I am getting quite dizzy!!!

    I have gleaned ( so far) pull thread straight up, then towards you then away from you and then left to right to "set" the stitch.............Do I sound mad; you bet I do.

    Have sent off for the agreman gimp and the silk buttonhole twist Jeffrey suggests ( as it happened I had a few spools of the buttonhole twist, but not the special gimp. I keep telling myself that this will transform my efforts!!

    So, can you tell us what beeswax you used. If my buttonholes dont turn out well, I can't blame the tools or the threads, just me.

    Thanks for your fabulous blog, its inspirational and just makes me want to try harder.

  8. Oh popped back to say.............thanks for the links you posted. I have watched them all.

    I wonder is there anyway to be able to translate the lovely Paco's blog. I have subscribed, the pics of his buttonholes are great, but I wish I could understand the notes that go with them.

    Will handworked buttonholes become addictive and will I get as good as yours??

    Happy weekend to everyone.



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