October 22, 2017

Week 2 & 3 Progress ~ V8991 Couture Jacket

I decided to keep a running journal for this very overwhelming project. The goal is to write my progress daily and then post it at the end of the week. Read about week 1 here. Now we can get started with week 2.... and unfortunately, this ran over to week 3.

I am now starting on my second week working on this project and looking at my jacket I come to a heavy conclusion.... I haven't really done anything yet. Yes, my pattern muslin was made and my fabric is cut out but I haven't sewn a single seam. Oh my!! I had better get to it.....

Picking up where I left off, with steps 14 is making the buttonholes. Here we have some pre-instructions. That is instructions to follow before you actually do the step. In this case, we are supposed to make practice button holes on scrap fabric before we actually start doing them on the true garment.

In step 14 Claire Shaeffer explains that she doesn't have a "notcher for making holes" so she "cuts a small triangle a the end". I've never heard of a notcher for making buttonholes but when I looked it up I found lots of examples of what looks like a leather hole punch. I have an antique one but I don't trust it to be sharp enough. So I went with a stiletto to open a hole in the fabric and then used my thread scissors to cut the notches.

Step 15 is stabilizing the area to be cut. I really like this technique. I set my stitch length to as short as I could and stitched very close to the basted cut line, using a zipper foot, from the front of the fabric.

Close up (in terrible lighting, sorry) of the center thread designating where
the buttonhole will be cut, surrounded on either side by a machine
basting stitch to stabilize the area.

In step 16 we actually cut the slit for the buttonhole. This wasn't that bad. That stabilized area on either side really gave a lot of support. There's also a tip to use glue on the cut edge to stabilize it. In my case this step was very important because I didn't use fusible interfacing. I used school glue. It didn't leave any discoloration and dried stiff, keeping the tweed from unraveling.

Steps 17 and 18 are instructions on how to hand stitch a buttonhole. Thankfully, I have had hours of practice doing this when I was making eyelet lace, also known as cutwork or broderie anglaise. Unfortunately, trying to do this without actual buttonhole twist and actual gimp made it incredibly difficult to achieve an acceptable result.

Hand buttonhole worked in white topstitching thread with one strand
under the stitching as gimp. 

I went with topstitching thread because I can easily get that from Joann Fabric. I picked up some white (because the project lining is white) and followed the directions. I hated it. It just didn't look right to me. Eventually, over the course of two weeks, I decided to change my thread color to a dull green and use four strands behind the stitch as gimp. This gave a much nicer effect because the white thread stood out and using only one thread behind the stitch didn't fill in the areas where the fashion fabric shown through the stitching. Whereas the green recedes, making it look more natural against the tweed, and the four strands do a very nice job in adding bulk under the stitches.

Finished hand sewn buttonholes in Gutermann topstitching thread
color 724, it's a nice, light, sage green

Steps 19 and 20 are to make faux bound buttonhole "flaps" on the interfacing side. I was going to skip this part. However, it does show itself to be necessary once you see the backside of the buttonhole. Let's just say that there is much to be desired in the stitching. For this part I tacked strips of silk ribbon to the interfacing.

Steps 21 to 26 are all about prepping the pockets.... of which I'm not doing.

Here's some tips that I found very helpful in making hand sewn buttonholes:

  1. Try to find true buttonhole twist and gimp in the color that you need. There are online retailers that sell in short lengths. I will definitely be taking this advice in my next project. It will go much smoother from the start with way less aggravation.
  2. Work in a very well light space. I like to have a lamp shining over my shoulder when I'm hand sewing.
  3. Use a sewing needle with a wide enough hole to pass the buttonhole twist easily. There's nothing more aggravating, in hand sewing, than not being able to thread your needle.
  4. Wax your thread. You can get a little piece of wax in the notions section of WalMart and I'm sure Joann Fabric sells it. I couldn't find mine and used a regular, short pillar candle instead. 
  5. If you are using fabric covered buttons, make those first so you can check the size of your hole. You don't want to find out at the end that your buttons are too big for the holes.
  6. Practice on scrap fashion fabric until you are satisfied with your work.
  7. School glue is your friend. I dabbed it around the edge and didn't have any problems with my tweed unraveling. 
  8. Use the stabilizing stitch, in step 15, as your guide. Bring your stitches up just behind this stitch and you can achieve very even stitching.
  9. Don't be afraid to take out a stitch if it doesn't fall where you want it to.
  10. Thick gimp makes lovely buttonholes. If only I had had true gimp, they would be even better. Using multiple strands of thread was quite a hassle because inevitably a strand or two would end up getting caught up in my stitching thread. It really slowed me down trying to keep it all sorted.
  11. Make sure and pull the stitches tightly as you make them. Also, try and keep them straight as you go. 
  12. Once you're finished, if it looks a bit wonky, you can fiddle with it to straighten it out. 

If you have any other tips, I'd love to hear them. While I was familiar with the buttonhole stitch, I had never actually used it to make buttonholes. Lol. This was a great learning experience.

Looking ahead to next week's directions, I see that there are actual seams being sewn. I'm very excited about that.

I hope that all of your sewing projects are going together like a dream.
Until next time, 
Happy Stitching!!

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  1. Oh this jacket is going to be WONDERFUL! Thank you for reading my blog! Love, love, loge your slide show on the bottom!!!

    1. Thank you, thank you, and you are very welcome. :)

  2. Very excited to see the progress on your jacket. Those button holes are just beautiful - I've got a long way to go to get mine to look even close! Any tips on angling the thread as you head into the circular opening? I always unintentionally end up with a teardrop shaped buttonhole!

    1. Thanks so much for your compliments. The only tip I can give is that I go into the same hole twice as I make the turn into the circular area. The first time, with the buttonhole stitch knot lined up with the last. The second knot lays inside the circle area. I hope that makes sense. Tear drop buttonholes would look very pretty. Really, I think the most important thing is to make them as close to being the same as you can. Best of luck. BTW, I love your blog. I followed on bloglovin' so I get to see your future makes. I can't believe you already made 3 French Jackets. They are gorgeous. Great job. :D

    2. Aw, thank you! Yes, I do love a French Jacket :) And thanks for the tip!


Thanks so much for your comments.