2 March 2008

Orange You Glad You Asked? - Part 2

Bound Buttonholes
I enjoy a good bound buttonhole. It is one of the features that takes an ordinary garment into the realm of the exquisitely couture. Often seamstresses (and seamsters) are intimidated by the bound buttonhole, which is truly a shame. Bound buttonholes are not difficult - they simply require patience and precise measurements and sewing techniques. If you take it slow, you almost can't go wrong. There are several different ways to execute a good looking bound buttonhole. I have tried all the techniques out there and the one I'll show you today is one of my favourites for stable fabrics.

The top/jacket that I am working on right now for SWAP 2008 requires seven bound buttonholes - five down the front and one per sleeve vent. Thus, I wanted to use a quick and fairly simple technique. I didn't want each buttonhole to be a time consuming odyssey, so I selected what I feel is a quick and easy method. Below, I have outlined the steps that I followed:

1. First mark the placement of the buttonholes on the wrong side of the garment. I have done my marking on the underlining of my top/jacket.

2. Using a very long machine stitch, trace over the markings - this way they will be seen from both the right and wrong side of the fabric.

3. Either on the straight grain or on the bias (depending on how stretchy you want the lips of the buttonhole to be), cut one inch wide strips of fashion fabric.

4. Fold the strips in half lengthwise, press lightly, then stitch an 1/8" from the fold.

5. Trim a scant 1/8" from the stitching line.

6. Cut the strips into pieces equal to the length of the finished buttonhole plus 1".

7. Place the cut edge of a strip along the right side of basted buttonhole centre and stitch down using a very short stitch (I use 0.5 mm). Be sure to start and end precisely at the markings. If you over- or under-stitch, you must go back and fix the ends (by either ripping out or adding to the stitching). Leave thread ends that are long enough to be threaded onto a needle to be brought to the wrong side for tying off. (See the drawing below - I forgot to get a picture - oops!)

8. Repeat this process for the left side.

9. Carefully slit the buttonhole down the middle, clipping out to the four corners. Be careful not to clip the lips. I forgot to take a picture of this too, so I have drawn it out below. The solid lines represent the stitching and the dashed lines represent the cutting lines.

10. Turn the lips, from the right side, through the slit to the wrong side. Press carefully, pulling the lips taut to ensure they lie flat. In the picture below, I have already trimmed the ends of the lips on either side of the buttonhole opening.

11. Secure the triangle of fabric from the slit to the lips with a very short stitch.

12. Press on the right side (with a press cloth) and voila, a beautiful bound buttonhole!

I also wanted to answer a query:
Juliane asked, "A question about the skirt...are you going to use the full gathered skirt, or are you going to modify it to look like the red one? Since you have both a slim skirt and gathered skirt in the wardrobe pattern, it would be very easy to combine the two to create the pictured skirt."
I decided to just use the full skirt as is for my SWAP pieces. However, I do have plans to make a another version of this, in dark brown wool crepe that will more closely resemble the BV inspiration suit. I hadn't even though of doing what you suggested (using the top of the slim skirt, as well as the full skirt), so thanks for the idea! Now, it's just a matter of finding the time (why, oh why, is there never enough time?) to actually try making the knock off.


Erica Bunker said...

I love bound buttonholes. Thanks for another fabulous technique.

Summerset said...

Count me in as another bound buttonhole lover! Thanks for showing your technique!

Anonymous said...

Your tutorial really reduces the intimidation factor for bound button holes, Shannon! Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I love bound buttonholes too, and I use the same method you do with consistently good results. They are so elegant and really bring the jacket up a notch. On thick material they are easier than my machine buttonholes.

Linda L said...

Shannon, very helpful information. Bookmarked this for future reference.

Unknown said...

Thansk for taking the time to do that :)

vintage patterns

Marji said...

they look great. That's how I do them too. It's all in the measuring and being really accurate. Do you count stitches too?

Unknown said...

Thank you SOOOo much! This is #1 on my Things to Master list this year. I can't wait to try out your tutorial. :)


Tany said...

I love bound buttonholes too! Great tutorial!

Nancy Winningham said...

Thanks for your great tutorial. I have used the organza patch method and piped buttonhole method, but this looks much easier.

Becky said...

Ha-- it's actually that "precise measurement" thing that causes me the most trouble. Usually my attempts at being precise are still off. :P But thank you for putting together that tutorial. It really is a nice look, and one that I should probably try sometime!