Hand Worked Buttonholes

Hand worked buttonholes are an acquired talent. They take more practice to become good at. There is a benefit to using them. First it is the mark of a custom made garment. It sets the garment apart from mass produced clothing. There is also more control in the stitching and less risk of stretching or fraying the fashion fabric.

Here is how I make my handmade buttonholes.

Step 1: Assemble your tools. I use a double strand of poly cotton thread. To prevent tangling, the thread is coated with beeswax. A short sewing needle works best. Experiment to find the size best for you. I use #6 Betweens. To cut the buttonhole cutter set (little mat, blade shown. keyhole punch not shown).

Step 2: Practice first! Use however many layers of fabric as will be in the finished garment. For this practice piece I have two layers of fashion fabric (garment and facing) and interfacing (not shown).

I pressed a line to positioning the cutting line for the button hole. On the finished garment I marked the line using white erasable chalk on the inside of the garment. Then I machine stitched a long line of basting stitches.

The beginning and end of the buttonholes are marked in pencil on the practice piece. On the finished garment they are measured and marked with pins along the line with basting stitches (button and buttonhole placement line). Basting thread is used to mark these points and the pins are removed.

To calculate the length of the finished buttonhole. Measure the width of the button and add it to the height. To this result add 1/8″ for the bar tack at each end. A test buttonhole is the best way to make sure the measurement is correct.

Step 3: The little mat is placed beneath the garment where the buttonhole will be. The garment is placed on top. The blade is positioned along the pressed line (or basting stitched line) and pressed firmly down. A neat opening results. If needed use a small scissor to open the buttonhole a little more.

Steps 4 and 5: Using a waxed double strand of thread, first overcast the slit all around. Knot and cut from the wrong side. Wax another double strand of thread. Use a buttonhole stitch to work around the buttonhole. When you come to each end, make the bar tack.

Step 6: Test your buttonhole for length.

Step 7: Test the workability of your buttonhole. It should go through the buttonhole easily. Sew a button to another piece of fabric and they pass through the buttonhole again. Move the fabric around. The button should stay securely closed. It should not pop out of the buttonhole.

Some people like to steam press the thread after waxing it and before hand stitching their buttonholes. I have had mixed results with this technique. Sometimes the thread is too brittle and breaks. It will all depend on what kind of fashion fabric you use and how thick the layers are.

The Little Black Dress

The Little Black Dress is a must when you need a reliable classic to use for many occasions. I made mine using a fitted bodice with short dolman sleeves. Fit was achieved through vertical darts under the bust and on each side of the back. 1/4″ dolman sleeve shoulder pads were trimmed around the edges to accomodate the neckline finish. Shoulder pads were then covered in black lining fabric.

The rayon fabric was lightweight. To provide body and make it opaque, I underlined the complete garment.

The sheath skirt is shaped with just one dart on each side of the front and each side of the back. I kept the fit easy so that it is not too tight. This is important since I wear the dress for family events.

To keep the look understated I often accessorize with black, low heeled pumps and a clutch purse with faux marcasite clasp. A heart shaped red crystal surrounded by marcasite necklace completes the look.

To keep the focus on the accessories I had a fabric covered belt made by Bee Lignes. Please visit their site for your customized belt and covered button needs. The workmanship is top quality. Since the belt is handmade to your specifications you may have to wait a few weeks for delivery.

Office Suite

A perfect outfit for work or a meeting with a client. The pebble crepe blouse has a pussycat bow made from a bias strip of fabric which finishes the neckline.

The pencil skirt achieves a good fit through two darts on each side of the front and back. A kick pleat allows greater walking movement without exposing the legs. The zipper is hidden inside of the back seam.

Since the bow is the focal point at center front the best accessories are either earrings or a headband or pretty comb. I chose these stud earrings with amber colored crystals that complement the cream colored crepe of the blouse.

Welcome to Pour Moi!

Pour Moi means for me in French. I chose this name for my new blog because it focuses on the evolution of my personal style…what is flattering, pleasing and best for me. I hope you will join me in this journey and learn some new things to help the development of your own dressmaking skills and personal style.

My personal choice of style is understated and simple. I want to make a positive impression but not overwhelm others. Here is an example of one of my favorite styles made in 2014. It consists of a gathered skirt, sleeveless bodice with double French darts and a fabric covered belt. The bodice was draped and the skirt drafted. A string of pink pearls completes the outfit. It looks as good in 2020 as it did in 2014.