How many ways to bind a buttonhole?

Tyo’s coat is going to have bound buttonholes. There’s only four, surely I can manage that, right? I know the Lady Grey was supposed to be my gentle entry into the world of bound buttonholes, but, frankly, Tyo needs a winter coat more than I need a gorgeous-but-semi-practical-between-seasons jacket right now.

The plan was to make the lips of the buttonholes out of the lining fabric (a sturdy flannel-backed satin) rather than out of the bulky, soft, and flexible fashion fabric. This plan lasted until I actually did some trials, of which I’ll be speaking of shortly. But first… there remains the issue of METHOD.

There is a plethora of bound-buttonhole tutorials out there; I will list only a few

  • Gertie’s
  • Sherry’s
  • Two on Burdastyle, this one which is most like the one in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, and this one, which is more like (but not exactly like) Sherry’s.
  • Patty the Snug Bug recently reviewed Gertie’s technique and another one from her own sewing books, which is basically the same idea I used for my single welt pockets, but with a welt on each side.
  • No doubt there’s any number of other ones—that’s just what I remember seeing off the top of my head. If you have a favourite (or one of your own), please chime in! 🙂

A lot of VERY bad bound buttonholes

So, this afternoon, I sat down and experimented.

Now, as we all know, bound buttonholes, like welt pockets, are all about precision. Precision is one of those things I, ah, struggle with in sewing. I’m getting better, mind you—my cut pieces of fabric now almost always resemble the pattern they were cut with, I’m much better about getting my grain right, and I press as I sew quite religiously (which gets me a lot of exercise since I sew in the kitchen and press in the basement).

So you will not be entirely surprised to see that exhibit A, to the left, is, well, less than impressive. In part, the satin just wasn’t really working for me—it highlights the flaws, as it were, a little too crisply. (The satin for the final ones would have been the same fabric in black, but I have a ton of scraps left over from my winter coat lining, so I was using some of those. I did manage to achieve passable results with Sherry’s method, but still not to the point where I would be willing to put it in a finished garment (top centre in red wool, bottom left in silver satin). The slippery, fray-y nature of the satin didn’t help, either. Similarly with Gertie’s method. None of the others are even worth talking about (for this fabric and my current skills ;)… there are many sewists out there far more talented and precise than I!)

I had a bit more luck with using the fashion-fabric itself for the lips. It’s a bit more forgiving of my flaws. I was worried that it would be REALLY BULKY. It is. But, it looks softer. However, Sherry’s method is extra-bulky,  so it didn’t work so well with this method, either (centre top… which still looks better than any of the satin-bound ones, I suppose)). Gertie’s, however, did… with the caveat that it’s almost entirely hand-sewn. Only the initial rectangle was sewn by machine (bottom right two buttonholes, one in red, one in black).

This is pretty much par for the course for me. Precision=hand-sewing. I don’t really mind hand-sewing, fortunately (after hand-beading bellydance accessories, anything else is a piece of cake). Still, it would be nice someday to be able to be precise and speedy. Like, say, Sherry ;).

Ah, well. I showed Tyo the buttonholes and she likes the black contrast lips, so I expect we’ll go that route.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “How many ways to bind a buttonhole?

  1. Tyo’s right – the black looks great!
    It really does help to do a few samples before The Real Thing!

  2. Ugh. I have yet to do a bound buttonhole properly. Mad, mad props…

  3. Sewista Fashionista

    Bound buttonholes are one of those techniques that appear so clear cut in the sewing manual but can be such stinkers to sew.

  4. Gertie’s method is the only one I’ve tried, and I thought it was pretty straight forward (for a ridic. laborious activity).

  5. Wow, you have a lot of patience! Hehe… I only practiced once on my Lady Grey so my buttonholes are a little crooked. 😛 The black one does look great! Good luck!

  6. I have only done limited bound buttonholes, but Gertie’s method is my preference. The black looks good. I have had good luck using ultra suede for the lips on several projects. I picked up a little bundle with 5 different colors at a sewing expo cheap. It’s going to be really cute!

  7. Pingback: Yay, sewing! | Tanit-Isis Sews

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