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Although closures are primarily functional, their precision and workmanship can add a special dimension to your garments. From tailored, bound buttonholes to delicate thread loops-from decorative buttons to inconspicuous snaps-there is a wide variety of closures from which to choose. Let the design and the fabric determine your choice of buttonhole. Couturiers use bound buttonholes for a tailored, professional look on all garments, hand-worked buttonholes for soft or delicate fabrics, and machine-worked buttonholes for man-tailored and casual garments. Your pattern markings include exact placement and size of buttons and buttonholes as recommended by the designer.

Any changes from the designer's intended placement or size should be carefully planned. If you have adjusted the length of the pattern tissue, adjust the buttonholes by evenly spacing them between the top and bottom buttonholes. If you are adding buttonholes, the most important consideration in the placement is the size of your button. Remember that large buttons are placed farther apart than small ones. If your button is larger than recommended, do not move the buttonhole away from the edge, as this will change your center line; rather, extend the closing edge to accommodate the button. (Make this adjustment on the pattern before you cut your fabric so the underlap on the left side will be as wide as the overlap on the right side.)

Always test the buttonhole on a scrap of your fabric with the appropriate underlining and interfacing to discover any problems you might encounter. Refer to Pressing, page 348, for tips on pressing your buttonholes.

BUTTONHOLE SIZE: The size of the buttonhole should always be determined by the button. Minimum buttonhole length is equal to the diameter plus the thickness of the button. Add V8" (3 mm) to allow for the shank and slight size reduction due to fabric thickness (1).

To find the buttonhole length needed for a thick or ball button, wrap a 1/4" (6 mm) wide strip of paper around the button and mark with a pin where the ends meet. Then fold the paper strip flat and measure between the pin and the fold to determine the correct buttonhole size. Add the Vs" (3 mm) mentioned above (2).

In general, attractive buttonholes are slim, about 1/4" (6 mm) wide with each lip (3 mm) wide. They may be slightly narrower for lightweight fabrics and a little wider for bulky fabrics, but total width should not exceed Ys" (10 mm).

PLACEMENT MMKING: Make your buttonhole markings on the right side to make certain that the finished buttonhole will follow the fabric grainlines. First mark the position and length of your buttonhole with pins or chalk, then thread trace for precise markings.

Begin all horizontal buttonholes Yg" (3 mm) to the side of the buttons nearest the closing edge to allow for the natural tendency of the garment to "pull" away from the closing. This "pull" is downward for vertical buttonholes, begin them %" (3 mm) above the actual button placement and directly on the lengthwise placement line.

The reference point in placing your buttonholes is the garment center line; centiar lines must rneet.when your closing is fastened. Thus it should always be the first line marked. Next mark the short horizontal lines for the position of the buttonholes and, lastly, the long continuous vertical lines to indicate their length.

For a center closing, the buttons are positioned on the underiap center line, the buttonholes in corresponding positions on the overlap center line (1).

The top buttonhole is generally placed below the neckline edge at least half the width of the button plus 1/4" (6 mm). The last buttonhole should be 3" to 4" (7.5 cm to 10 cm) from the bottom, never through the hem. Buttonholes are not usually placed closer than VS" (15 mm) from a closing edge; for a large button, the extension should be no less than half the button's width plus 1/4" (6 mm).

For a double-breasted closing with functional buttonholes, place each row of buttons an equal distance on each side from the underlap center line, and buttonholes in correspond- ing positions from the overlap center line. Remember the buttons are placed equal distances from the center line, not the buttonholes, and make certain both rows of buttonholes extend in the same direction from the buttons (2). For an asymmetrical closing, first make sure center lines match. Mark the short placement markings perpendic- ular to the edge and the long length lines parallel to the edge (3).

TO CORD BOUND BUTTONHOLES: Cording buttonholes reduces their elasticity, but adds body, strength, and durability. Their raised appearance also provides a finer finish. There are two methods for cording bound buttonholes. For the five-line patch, organza patch, and one-piece folded methods, draw a strand or two of string or yarn through lips just before stitching triangular ends (1). For the two-piece method, fold strip, wrong sides together, around cable cord or twine before you begin to construct the buttonhole. Machine baste close to the cord using a zipper foot (2).

Machine-Worked Buttonholes
Even better button holes can be had with the use of a Buttonhole Attachment
These buttonholes are particularly suited to casual and man-tailored clothes or clothes that require frequent laundering. Attach facing before making buttonholes. Thread trace buttonhole markings through all layers. Make buttonholes with a buttonhole attachment or zigzag machine. For a stronger buttonhole, stitch over buttonhole a second tirne (1).

Some machines have a special built-in mechanism that automatically stitches button- holes-usually one half of the buttonhole is stitched forward and the other half backward. Refer to your sewing machine manual for complete instructions.

Machine-worked buttonholes are not cut open until after the stitching is completed. To cord the buttonholes, use a special buttonhole foot through which a fine cord can be drawn as you stitch. Or guide the cord by hand as you stitch over it.

Seam Buttonholes
These buttonholes are actually small openings in a seam. Mark buttonhole placement; pin and baste seam. Cut two strips of ribbon seam binding for each buttonhole 1" (25 mm) longer than opening. On one seam allowance, place strip next to seamline along markings and stitch close to each edge. Repeat on other seam allowance (2). Then stitch garment seam, ending stitching at markings; backstitch. Press seam open. Remove basting from opening. Add bar tacks at ends on wrong side (3).

Hand-worked Buttonholes
These buttonholes are sewn through all layers after the facing is applied. Machine-stitch a scant Vs" (3 mm) on either side and across both ends of the buttonhole marking. Carefully slash along the length marking.

Take an 18" (46 cm) length of buttonhole twist and insert, the needle at one end, anchoring the thread with backstitches on the wrong side. Work the buttonhole stitch by inserting the needle through the slash from the right side and bringing it out just outside the stitching line. Keep thread under eye and point of needle as shown (1). Draw up the needle so a purl (knot) is formed at the buttonhole edge (2). Repeat, keeping stitches even and each purl exactly on the edge of the slash. Fan stitches at the end closest to the finished edge as shown (3). Place a bar tack at the remaining end.

BAR TACK. Finish both ends of the buttonhole with a bar tack. First take 3 or 4 long stitches across the width at each end of the buttonhole. Then work the blanket stitch over the core threads, catching the fabric underneath (4).

KEYHOLE: If you prefer a keyhole buttonhole on man-tailored clothes, follow instructions for hand-worked buttonholes, with one exception: make a hole with an awl at end nearest opening edge to form keyhole. Then work buttonhole stitches around hole and slash; finish remaining end with a bar tack (5).

CORDED. Hand-worked buttonholes can be corded by working the buttonhole stitch over buttonhole twist secured at one end with a pin. Add bar tack to end; clip cord (6).

EYELETS: This type of buttonhole is used with studs, cuff links, drawstrings, and belts. Sew around placement marking with small running stitches. Cut an opening the desired size or punch a hole with an awl. Bring needle up through fabric from the wrong side a scant Vs" (3 mm) from edge of hole. Leave 1" (25 MM) of thread on the wrong side and work around the hole with buttonhole stitches. Fasten threads securely on the wrong side (7).

On to Buttons

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2006 March 28