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Dec 16, 2013

Buttonhole Breakthrough + New Lining Fabric!



I wish I could take credit for this lovely buttonhole, but I cannot.

In the end, I chose to have my peacoat buttonholes done at Jonathan Embroidery, in the Garment District (256 W. 38th St.).  I am so glad I did.

As you know, I made a lot of test buttonholes with my Singer buttonholer (the one with the keyhole templates) and they came out well.  So well, in fact, that I had decided to make them myself.



But I didn't like the way they looked cut (done with a seam ripper).



At Jonathan Embroidery, the buttonholes are cut open mechanically, without stressing the fabric, and the hole looks much cleaner -- especially the keyhole area.  (I need to invest in one of those buttonhole cutting kits.)



If you're taking a garment to Jonathan Embroidery, you have to mark your buttonholes precisely -- difficult on a rough tweed; my chalk kept rubbing off.  The woman who helped me was very patient, however, and re-measured and re-chalked everything for me.  That said, I knew precisely where they needed to be and I also brought buttons with me to test.  In the end, the whole thing cost just $8 for 8 buttonholes -- well worth the cost, especially given the attention I was given.  (It wasn't crowded when I was there, luckily.)

While uptown, I also decided to buy new lining fabric.  The silk I'd experimented with was too slippery and frayed too much; the Bemberg I had in my stash was too thin.  In the end I opted for a heavy poly satin.  It's stable, sturdy and will support an inside pocket.  I don't think I'll get to the lining till tomorrow and I only hope I can finish it by Coatmas Eve.

Silk twill -- a fraying nightmare.

Rayon Bemberg -- practically transparent.

Heavy poly satin -- cross your fingers.

The buttons are now on, I am happy to say, but I still have to add sleeve heads and press the whole garment.  And add the lining, of course.

In the worst case, I will model the coat without the lining, but hopefully that won't be necessary.

And that's today's coat report, now back to Bewitched, already in progress.

Have a great day, everybody!



28 comments:

  1. Tailoring always takes longer than you think--so many fiddly bits that have to be done just right. You've made remarkable time on this coat, it seems to me. That poly satin looks like a good match for the coat. Hope it's easy to work with.

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  2. Lovely buttonholes. Wish I had a place like this near me. My mum said when she sewed in the 50s, they always got the buttonholes done professionally, so it's a time honoured practice.
    Have you tried using a chisel thing? I haven't, just wondering. I hate doing buttonholes as my machine is from the 1960s and has a manual zigzag buttonhole, which I always mess up at least once per garment by going the wrong way. I do have a singer buttonholer kit but I have to get my singer back from a friend and then find somewhere to set it up. First world problems, or what.
    Your coat is going to be amazing.

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  3. I think that with fabric like this, professional buttonholes are exactly right. I can't wait to see this coat on you!

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  4. There is a man here in San Francisco, with a buttonhole machine. He charges $25. per buttonhole.
    Yes...$25. per buttonhole.

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  5. I wishe we had a professional buttonholed up here in maine! $8? I would totally take advantage of that service!

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  6. Great thinking with the buttonholes. I'd never have thought to get them done elsewhere but will keep it in mind now...although where here, I am really not sure!

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  7. I might make a trip to NYC a couple times a year just to have all my buttonholes done. I hate making those things!

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  8. Excellent choice for your lining. The coat company I worked for many years ago also used a heavy poly satin, the Bembergs were just too light weight.

    Remember to use a light interfacing in the welts when making the chest pocket, and I still recommend going the extra mile and setting in a tab and button in the welt for closure.

    Lastly, do you use flannel or flannel like fabric for your pocket bags? I like to use flannel for my bags on leather jackets and heavy woolens; they have more heft than satin, and more warmth than cotton.

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  9. Good choice on the button holes. But I have a pair of button hole scissors and I love them. Lots on Ebay.

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  10. Great progress Peter!! The buttonholes are fab!

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  11. Peter, you are making such good progress. I love the buttonholes and what a treat to have custom buttonholes. Good luck finishing the last bit of construction.

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  12. Instead of chalk, next time mark your button holes with a basting stitch in contrasting color thread.

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  13. The posts on the coat are really informative. Thanks Peter!

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  14. You're so lucky to have such a service. They look great. One thing about us sewists, the more we sew the more obsessed we get about the littlest details.

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  15. You really do need to invest in a buttonhole kit...the kind with the little chisel, and the tiny wee cutting mat, and the little doohickey for cutting the keyhole. As soon as you get it, you'll wonder how you ever sewed without it.

    That said, your buttonholes are lovely. :)

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  16. Gee! Good to know! I always stress out about buttonholes.

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  17. I bought my buttonhole cutting kit from Wawak.com. It came with a wooden block, a chisel, and a round punch. I'm sure it was around $6 for the whole thing. Check it out.

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  18. And there resides the difference between home-made and "Who's selling that?".

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  19. I just ordered one of the buttonhole cutter things. I ordered from Wawak, a nice wooden set for $6.49, but there is $4 something shipping unless you order $100 worth of merchandise. I did order some other items but not totaling $100. I think Amazon has the plastic and vinyl version for about the same.

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  20. I'll be the first to jump in and say that you should, on projects like that, sew the button holes by hand. Yes, it takes longer, but when you factor in the time it would take you to get to someone to do it with another machine, they would be done. Also, because you cut the hole first, everything is wrapped very cleanly into the stitching. Example here: http://www.tuttofattoamano.blogspot.com/search/label/Boutonniere%20Milanaise

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    1. I've salivated over the awesome hand done buttonholes at tuttofattoamano. I was doing my buttonholes (not that many since I don't sew as much as I wish I did) for about a year by hand. My experience as an un-expert buttonhole maker was that it was tough to get things to work well in a loosely woven fabric like Peter has here, unless you make the buttonhole stitches go way back into the fabric which starts to look not as nice. Surely its easy for a tailor, but I found it challenging.

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  21. Those are some good looking button holes. Have you tried an Exacto knife to cut open your button holes? You do have to be careful not to accidentally cut the binding threads, but I find that they make very clean crisp cuts.

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  22. Love this post concerning two of my favorite subjects...buttonholes and Bewitched! Glad you went with pro buttonholes on such a great coat. You are doing a fabulous job , by the way. I love making coats but balk at the buttonholes...have ditched many a pattern that had too many! Looking forward to seeing you in the finished product.

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  23. Peter, I've dropped Facebook altogether and started reading your post, religiously, instead. So now it's just you, my 5 girlfriend blog, the news, and some quilt blogs because I quilt. And I don't even make clothes. But that's how much I love your post. I love your prose. You really know how to write. And if I ever Do need a buttonhole, and am in NY.....

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  24. Off-topic correction: In a previous comment, I mentioned that Grainline Studios had a good tutorial on creating lining pieces for a jacket or coat. I was mistaken. The tutorial can be found at Tilly and the Buttons (30 Oct 2010) and is written by Tasia from Sewaholic.

    I can't find my original comment.

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  25. HAHAHA OMG do you watch youtube Bewitched when you sew as well!? For me it's usually Bewitched or Golden Girls unless I am listening to the radio.

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  26. I made a beautiful wool coat that I am afraid to sew the button holes for this exact reason - so I haven't and that is the only thing left on the coat to do! I live far from New York but I am going to find someone here in Portland that can sew button holes for me! Thanks for a great idea!

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  27. "If you're taking a garment to Jonathan Embroidery, you have to mark your buttonholes precisely -- difficult on a rough tweed; my chalk kept rubbing off."

    I prefer chalk, too, but in Menswear Sewing Prof. Blackman showed us how to mark the button hole positions with pins.

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