Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weekend Project: All Buttoned Up

If you need six buttons, you'll only find five in your button box.
from: Murphy's Laws of Sewing
I thought I'd use my Grandmother's Christmas present to show you how I do buttonholes and buttons - it seems especially relevant as the issue of marking came up recently and I don't actually make any of the buttonhole or button marks when I am preparing the fabric and cutting out the pieces.
After the shirt is completely assembled, I use the buttonhole guide to "mark" the buttonholes with pins, as you can see here:

Then, I gently separate and remove the tissue paper, leaving the pins in place. This does result in small holes (the size of the pin heads) in the tissue, but these have never given me any trouble when I reused the pattern.

I use the pin to line up my buttonhole foot. (Of course, I remove the pin before making the buttonhole.) You just have to remember if you placed the pin at the top of the buttonhole or at the bottom... ;)

Next up - the buttons. I figure that the very best way to make sure that the buttons line up with the buttonholes is to use the buttonholes to mark the locations for the buttons! I put the shirt on my dress form and basically "button" the shirt with pins.

I've tried doing this on a hanger instead of my dress form, and I don't think it works as well. The shirt just hangs differently when there is a 3D body inside of it! After "unbuttoning" the pins, they become perfect markers for the locations of the buttons.

Finally, attaching the buttons. This step used to drive me crazy until I read about this neat little tip - I scotch tape the buttons in place over the pins and then slide the pins out.

You can stitch right through the scotch tape! And the buttons don't slide around under the presser foot, moving out of alignment...

Peel off the tape...

And you are done! Here is the finished flannel shirt:

So, that is all pretty basic stuff, but if you haven't run across the scotch tape trick, I bet you'll really like it! And it is one bit where I skip the upfront marking and don't seem to suffer any negative consequences later on. ;)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that you are all looking forward to the New Year! :)


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful button tutorial, and I truly appreciate your posting it. I'm going to copy this information into my 'sewing techniques' folder. The idea of taping the button to the fabric is one of those slap-your-hand-to-your-forehead-and-shout-"of-course" tricks. Now why didn't I think of that??

Vicki said...

Thanks for that!

Susan said...

That is a great tutorial. I'm going to try this technique for sure!

Joanne said...

Hi Gwen, Hope you had a great Christmas. Liking that flannel shirt, very artsy. I can see wearing it with black straight legs with flats, or maybe unbuttoned with a black top beneath, the cuffs rolled up, all layered with necklaces and bangle bracelets.

Anonymous said...


I just started reading your blog recently. Clever idea, taping the button in place. I like it.

Anonymous said...

rofl I agree with the slap to the head. Thank you! Made that MUCH easier.

Summerset said...

I don't mark the buttonholes before stitching, either. I do love the tape tip for the buttons. I sew them on by machine when possible and I agree, they can be slippery little buggers.