The bounty of bound buttonholes, not quite ballgowns & the Bear

In reverse order, here’s the Bear!

In time honoured tradition, started by Karen at Did You Make That, I managed to capture a sewing blogger at Paddington station with the dude himself! Now speaking of Karen …what better way to learn how to do something new than to do it with friends, with chocolate cake, a super calm teacher who has learnt from her mistakes, in Walthamstow, & even with some celebratory fizz to end!! I was so lucky to be invited by Karen, ostensibly to be a guinea pig for bound buttonhole teaching. You see she is helpfully writing it up as a step by step e-book & wanted to test her approach so far on some willing volunteers. Enter Handmade Jane and Marie of A Sewing Odyssey to complete the set.

Have you ever seen such owner-perfect umbrellas? Marie with animal print & Jane with polka dots? Karen has written up her side of the story here, & not to repeat, it really was the most fun I’ve had for a long time (oh, I know you’ll understand being fellow sewing enthusiasts!) & I think it’s fair to say that all of us now have much higher confidence levels in sewing bound buttonholes.

Karen’s gentle & dulcet instruction ….

Plus we have some almost finished examples. You see I have tried them before for my Vintage Vogue jacket, but they are a long way off being perfect! Karen’s comprehensive instructions & gentle teaching style (& massive amount of preparation) resulted in me coming away understanding a lot more about the why you do it that way, which bits are important & when I can rely on a “Badger Bodge” & when the impact of such a bodge would jeopardise the final result. So as soon as Karen’s e-book is available, I’d highly recommend it….

Jane beavering away at the sewing machine

The opportunity to check we were doing it right at every stage felt like such a luxury. So much nicer to learn in company than to only have the internet or a book to refer to. Karen is not pretending to be the world’s expert by the way, she is just generously sharing her learnings, her trial and error from a very practical bottom up approach. But In my view, the bound buttonholes she’s made on *that* suit ( see the jacket on the dummy behind) have a finish I’d aspire to.

We’ve got bounty to take away:

  • My almost finished buttonholes to complete
  • Reading material & step by step instructions to test on our own, away from “teacher” & chit chat & chocolate cake

Karen, thank you, for putting in so much effort to make this work so well, even so far as to prepare all of the fabric pieces in advance. What a super fun afternoon & a wonderful meal at Eat 17 (seriously surpassing tasty!). Now I was suitably inspired, & as I was in London, to fill a spare 45 minutes soaking up inspiration at the V&A. I have never been & if I’d had more time would love to go to the ballgowns exhibition that is currently running. More time than that – I’d just spend all day there! However, I found a feast for the eyes just in the general fashion exhibit. First of all I caught sight of this beautiful evening Dior ensemble

And couldn’t resist closer inspection at the buttonholes!

Now that’s what I call delicate & precise.

Then some other clothing that had a mixture of bound buttonholes and hand sewn buttonholes I spied these, some of which is “utility wear” after the war.

But the top right is from the Dior display, I just loved all of these shapes. Hmm, bound buttonholes, tweed, suits, it must be coming up to thinking about autumn sewing plans! Interesting! And finally for some details that I snapped do you like this collection of all sorts of uses of lace? I’m sorry I haven’t made notes about them, as I was being too busy being inspired, but they represent a wide range of fashions from Victorian, right the way up to Chanel.

My head is buzzing! I’ve seen so much to inspire me, have learnt lots I want to try & I need to think about my autumn plans! Do you ever get flooded with thoughts & then find it hard to settle down & do anything? There’s SO much I want to do, but so little time ….

By the way, I shall also catch up with my blog reading as well ..something that I am rather behind with but I predict it will also add more inspiration/ temptation into the mix!!

For those of you who have a bank holiday off tomorrow, enjoy your long weekend! How FAB to have three days off :-)

32 thoughts on “The bounty of bound buttonholes, not quite ballgowns & the Bear

  1. Debi

    AHHH! Sounds like such a wonderful time!! I was just telling Karen that I wished I lived closer to london :) Oh…and the V&A exhibit?? Swoon….on my list!!!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Debi, it’s true, I love visiting London, but isn’t it funny how sometimes we don’t make the most of what’s on our doorstep….I need to remind myself that I’ve got a wonderful museum of costume I should make the most of!

  2. Lizzy

    Your buttonholes look magnificent, it’s only going to be a matter of time before the V&A start collecting your FOs! :-)

  3. Sam

    Oh, it sounds like you had a lovely and fun filled day! It sounds perfect, sewing with friends, food and drink and rounded off with a visit to the V&A. I’m hoping to see the ballgown exhibition myself before it ends.

    btw – I used your lapped zipper tutorial last week and it worked like a dream. Thank you!

  4. Ginger

    Ooh! I’m so jealous– what a lovely day! Marie and Jane look TOO cute in the umbrella photo! And your buttonholes look smashing!

    I can barely keep from drooling over the Dior gown– GORGEOUS.

  5. Merche

    Bound buttonholes make a big quality difference in any piece! I wish I could learn to do them well, they are so little and I´m all thumbs!
    The exhibit looks very interesting. I´m so jealous! 😉

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thank you merche, I think once Karen’s ebook is out you could find that it’s helpful, because I agree, there’s something gorgeous and neat about these kind of buttonholes :-)

  6. Marie

    Excellent roundup Winnie – love the brollie shot and I’m so jealous of your V&A visit…I’ve never been! It was so good to see you again, I literally had the best day ever!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Me too Marie!! I think a visit to the v and a needs far more time than I had…I’d love to go again….and the ball gowns exhibition looks incredible. It made me think that I should also go to the bath fashion museum more often !!

  7. Lynne

    Now, that’s my kind of day out! Your buttonholes look great, and the V&A photos are lovely. I LOVE all the jackets, especially the grey one with the wide collar.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thanks Lynne, yep, had such a lovely day….there were some seriously stylish jackets at the v and a….they look so neat and have a wonderful figure hugging silhouette….

  8. LinB

    Oh, mercy, what excellent fun it seems you have had together! And, “What tidy buttonholes you have, my dear … the better to button you with!” My solution to bound buttonholes is usually to face them from behind through all layers, pull the facing through, stitch it down around the hole to cover the raw edges, then fringe the facing. Threads magazine sometime in the 1990s did an article about using fringed fabric scraps to decorate garments. I didn’t come up with this artsy-fartsy solution on my own, but I do use that article as permission to skip tradition when I feel like it.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      That sounds interesting way to bind buttonholes Lin….hmmm, you always have such great ideas and this sounds so good because it seems perfect for when you want a method that’s maybe a quick compromise!?

  9. Shari

    How wonderful to see your meet up- and your handmade clothes in action! What a fabulously prepared lesson by Karen. I am becoming more intrigued by trying bound buttonholes after seeing such gorgeous results. I feel the same with being flooded with ideas and inspiration and finding it hard to settle down and accomplish something. It can be overwhelming, so I usually just choose the fabric I’m most anxious to wear and get started.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hi shari! Your approach sounds like mine….going with the energy….my energy levels are low today so I’m ironing my me mades as I know that’ll help me think more but feel productive!!

  10. Helen Made

    Great looking buttonholes Winnie! Karen’s teaching was obviously spot on! Looks like you had a great day. More than a little jealous not to have been there! :-)


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