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May 6, 2013

Belt Loops and (Professionally Made) Buttonholes



Here's a sneak peek at the pants; they're nearly finished.  I worked out the fit issues and now just have to hem them.

Yesterday I made belt loops.

I forget what this is called (a tube turner?) but it's what I made my belt loops with.



First I stitched the fabric, wrong side out.  I made two 10" tubes.



Next I turned each tube right side out and pressed it.  It always takes a bit of twisting to get it started but once it does it goes very quickly.



Unpressed on the left, pressed on the right.



The loops are attached under the waistband on the lower end, stitched down roughly 1/4" below, then folded up.  The top edge is turned under and stitched down along the top outer edge of the waistband with a narrow satin stitch.  There are many ways to attach belt loops, obviously. 





I decided I would treat myself to professionally made buttonholes, one at the waistband and two for the back pockets.  I had never been to Jonathan Embroidery before, though I'd read about it on Meg's old blog, so I swung by today.  I have to be honest: I found the experience stressful.  It was crowded and chaotic.  I stood on line and waited my turn (about 10 min.).  I had marked the place I needed the buttonhole (in chalk on the wrong side) but I needn't have bothered: they do thousands of these a day and know how to make a buttonhole on a pair of suit pants.

The Garment District or whatever they're calling it these days (The Fashion District?) can be intimidating to home sewers as it's really set up for professionals.  I didn't understand the pricing at Jonathan Embroidery and it wasn't clear whom to ask.  My waistband buttonhole (a keyhole) was $3.  After I paid, I asked the woman who'd worked the machine if she would be able to add buttonholes to the back pockets (I wasn't sure if they would fit, finished, under their machines).  She said yes.  I said well, maybe I'd come back another time.  She said I could have them done right away for the same $3, but if I came back another time it would be $3 more.  So they must have some kind of policy where you get up to three buttonholes for $3, but there's a $3 minimum.  Perhaps somebody reading this knows what the current policy is.

The buttonholes came out nicely and it didn't even matter that the pockets weren't marked: the woman working the machine knew exactly how they needed to be.  She matched the color in roughly five seconds.





I left Jonathan Embroidery feeling agitated.  It all moved so fast, the women working were constantly being interrupted (they also seemed extremely stressed), it was hot -- I couldn't wait to get out of the place.  That said, I'm glad they're there: where else can you get a professionally made buttonhole?



A follow-up on Berninas....

I've been looking at them on eBay and they all seem to be going for a few hundred dollars more than I'd care to spend.  Plus, they're mainly in carrying cases with all sorts of accessories and extras -- those are all great but at this point in my sewing life, I like a machine in a table.  The beauty of a table is that you can close it up when you're finished, and you don't have to fit everything neatly back into a carrying case.  Plus you always have a clean dedicated sewing surface.  Now that I have a table (actually three), I've grown used to sewing on a flat level surface. I'm not sure I'd want to go back.

Do you have a preference between a sewing table and a machine with a little table extension (or just a free arm and no table extension)?  I think it's really just what you're used to, don't you?

Have a great day, everybody!

33 comments:

  1. Usually called a loop turner, thought tube turner seems more appropriate.

    Would be nice if services like this were more widely available.

    I vote for sewing machine table (ideally an industrial one).

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    Replies
    1. Yep, loop turner. The pants look great, Peter!

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    2. In my neck of the woods, a "bodkin" is a tool that you use to thread elastic and cording. http://www.amazon.com/Clover-4001-Bodkin-2-types/dp/B0038DVP3M

      It also can be a sharp tool. You may recall Hamlet's "bare bodkin."

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  2. I grew up sewing on my mom's Kenmore machine in a cabinet. I love the flat surface. I bought a plastic Kenmore when I moved out on my own and I really missed the cabinet. I now sew on a plastic Janome which I do love and finally was able to purchase a table with a plastic insert to snug up to the machine and give me a flat surface again. I also like that it has a free arm that I can use by folding a section of the table out of the way. Flat is the way to go!!

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  3. Those trousers look great! Your skills are impressive. As for the buttonhole folks, maybe there's a time of day that's less crowded? Maybe call or stop by and ask? No need to be stressed out if you don't have to be.

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  4. I like a free arm machine with an acrylic extension table. Its convienient because all the extra stuff you keep around (scissors, etc) ends up under the extension table where you can easily see it, but is out of the way.

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  5. Very professional results! The pants look terrific!! Ps send me one of those tube turners!! There is nothing like that on this side of the US.

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    Replies
    1. http://www.amazon.com/Prym-Dritz-647-Loop-Turner/dp/B000Y3GS5E/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1367883536&sr=8-4&keywords=tube+turner

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  6. The key to Jonathan is to go when it first opens in the morning. No one is there yet and it's a very quiet unstress, experience. And just trust them, they know what they're doing. I've had 100+ buttonholes made there and not a single one screwed up. And I always meet the most interesting industry people there. Give it a few more tries and you'll get hooked.

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  7. Making pants always scas me and I have made only one men's pant for hubby dearest and felt I can sew more girly stuff than strain myself on men's pants!
    am happy with the buttonholes my humble singer used to make and more so now with innovis 95 which makes many styles and with such ease, button holes don't scare me anymore, recently made this shirt dress with 9 buttonholes :D

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  8. I spent roughly 10 years sewing on a Brother that was just set onto my table. Few months ago I got me Janome 1600P and built a DIY sewing machine table where the machine is lowered into the table. MAN! SO MUCH BETTER! So yeah, flat surface all the way!

    Those pants are looking mighty fine! Love that you went for proffesional buttonholes.

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    Replies
    1. Did you buy a kit for your DIY table? I need a table for my Viking.

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  9. Great pants Peter! To answer your question, I prefer a tall sewing table so that my legs will fit comfortable underneath and so the sewing machine will be closer to my face.

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  10. I prefer a flat surface rather than the extension arm for sure!

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  11. Peter,
    There's a man here in San Francisco with a special buttonhole machine. He charges $20. per buttonhole...and gets it!
    I haven't seen them, but doubt that they can be $17 nicer than yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds outrageous. But professional buttonhole machines cost thousands of dollars so most home sewers can't buy them. Jonathan Embroidery has several machines that make the keyhole and regular styles.

      As I said in another comment, Jonathan does take mail orders. Maybe you should try them.

      I once used an old professional buttonhole machine at FIT. The brand is Reece. I think Jonathan uses Jukis and Brother machines.

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    2. Yes, mine were done on a Brother -- an amazing looking machine!

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    3. Really loud!:-)

      You chalk or pin on the right side of the garment. To pin, you create a cross with two pins. The intersection represents the edge of the button. On a shirt that usually would be 1/8" into the extension from Center Front.

      Delete
  12. Which Bernina do you think you want? They do seem popular but there are so many options.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [short audible exhale] "I rather think he knows someone with a Bernina."

      "Mmmmmmm hmmmmmmmmm, [slight pause, then spoken slowly] all too well."

      "Certainly she could chortle a chorus or two of her Bernina's virtues."

      "Perhaps his taste in machines, and such, has wavered."

      "Don't bet on it, if she endorses, he 'of courses'."



      Delete
  13. Table. I used to sew with my machine on a desk for a while, then got a cabinet for the machine (it has a lever to shift the machine up and down). Much prefer this, wouldn't want to go back!
    If you are patient, you will find one, preferably local as on craigslist - usually people have a harder time getting rid of the cabinet machines so you might get lucky pricewise as well. Good luck!
    PS: Love your trousers (what I can see of them).

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  14. It's called a "loop turner." With some loops you can use chopsticks. It's easy to do, but would be too time-consuming for me to describe right now. There may be tutorials on the web.

    I love Jonathan Embroidery. I first learned about it when I started taking evening classes at FIT. I find the hustle and bustle invigorating. I've only taken shirts or blouses and the teachers explained how to mark the shirt. One, who insists that the buttonholes be done professionally, not on a home machine, explained how to watch operator. They are excellent, but it's important to focus.

    It's never cost more than $10 to do a shirt and I've never had to wait more than 20 minutes. I told someone who lives out of town about Jonathan and he sent his shirts in.

    It's a worthwhile investment for a professional result. You can bring your own thread or use theirs. They have scores of spools.

    It also helps to bring a sample piece of fabric as a test if you are concerned about how your fabric will respond.

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  15. Jonathan's is a great treasure. I went on a Saturday and it wasn't so busy. The place is definitely no frills but it's on the ground floor and they are so fast it's worth it.
    I only have room for a portable machine but would love to sew on a flat surface although I do like the free arm for narrow circular sewing.

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  16. Do people with sewing machine tables actually fold them up? I thought they were more or less permanent.

    For some reason, I couldn't post the other day, but if I were buying a sewing machine I'd have to consider an industrial (Juki, Adler, Brother), notwithstanding the size. For the sewing I like to do the most important factor is a great straight stitch. Unlike Berninas, industrial machine presser feet are reasonably priced. Many people I know who sew professionally think that Berninas are overrated and overpriced. I've had some lousy experiences with Bernina: Once I spent 45 minutes watching a webcast to which they invited me and then the company wouldn't tell me how much the software they were promoting cost.

    I'm not saying I'd turn down a Bernina if someone gave me one, but even then I'd prefer a mechanical. The more bells and whistles the more likely the machine is to break and no machine can do everything well. That's why I pay to have my buttonholes done on $10K Brother buttonhole machines.

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  17. I think you have got everything down to as close to perfection as possible. Really great pants, Peter.

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  18. The pants are perfect. I usually go to Jonathan's on Saturdays - definitely less crowded. I prefer a flat table (Machine with table extension) but as space is a premium for me, I have a clear acrylic extension table that fits onto the machine (while it sits on top of the desk/table).

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  19. Those pants are perfect. Anyone would think you have been tailoring for 20 years or more.
    I prefer my Brother machine. I just love it for what I need. It is light weight and I have actually taken it with me to a hotel and made burp cloths. Usually, I just use my kitchen table. I have two Berninas on loan to relatives. They absolutely love them for their purpose. I think the ideal sewing machine is what you need to use it for. I sometimes set up two for different purposes.

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  20. Beautiful pants, Peter. As for free arm vs. flat, it is what you get used to. I grew up sewing on a flat surface. The sewed on free arms and flat while I was at college. Then was a sample sewer on industrials for about 6 months- some had flat surfaces, some were free arm. Now I sew on a free arm primarily, but it is what I am used to. I find the shape of the arm allows me more control with easing-on-the-fly and sewing curved shapes together. Humans are endlessly adaptable even if we like to complain about change.
    There are many tables and attachments that allow you purchase a free arm machine and adapt it. Don't let the Bernina free arm dissuade you from trying the Bernina brand. Maybe go to a sewing machine store and try sewing on a free arm as test?

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  21. The pants are perfect! I usually go to Jonathan Embroidery on Saturdays and it pretty empty. A cabinet for the sewing machine is great but I have gotten used to the free arm and also have a clear acrylic table extension which gives me a good size flat surface. Looking forward to seeing the jacket!

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  22. Ah, but there is a solution for the (hopefully) pending Bernina.
    There's a collapsible table that I think was probably made in the 1970s-1980s which snuggles up to the free arm to make a nice flat surface, or folds down a bit to make the free-arm available and a larger sewing surface.
    I've seen them a couple of times on CraigsList and finally have one on order from eBay right now.

    And yes, I adore my non-fussy, ready to do anything Bernina 930 Record!

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  23. I started sewing about 12 years ago when I was 13... my grandma has a singer with a table extension and I loved it! When I turned 14, I received my first sewing machine: a White basic but sturdy little thing that has lasted me since! I love that machine and couldn't imagine life without it. Luckilly, I've been the only one in my family to take up sewing and have since inherited her beautiful machine when she gave up sewing last year due to eye sight. So which do I use more?? Well it depends on what I'm working with... the more tedious stuff I tend to go without the table... I think it's a control thing for me! either way I love both!

    Thanks for your blog!!!

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