Tag Archives: Bound buttonholes

Motivated to sew cushions?

First of all, I would like to help spread the news that there is an open day on August the 15th at the Fabric Godmother. Check out Zoe’s blog for more info. I’m not able to commit due to house selling stuff, but would love to go if I could, sounds oodles of fun- sewing friends with plenty of fabric goodness ( special discounts too).

But onto today’s writing…

vintage barkcloth cushion

Everyone who has been following me for a while has either heard me decry sewing anything but clothing or else will have noticed a distinct lack of home decoration projects.  I only sew for my home when faced with the bitter truth that the cost of doing otherwise is far too outrageous when I have the power, skills ( and access to far more exciting fabrics) to do so myself. It’s just not something that floats my boat.   …. or is it?

However the curtains and blinds I have made fill me with joy, probably because they are made from vintage curtains, tracked down on eBay, delivering the vision, colour and style that I conceived.  Cushions fill the same barren place in my sewing heart.  Easy to make but not exciting enough for me to make stacks.   I’ve not got one of those sofas where you can’t move for cushions- just a couple will do to support better comfort ( my sofas are a terrible investment – leather – yuk- and so uncomfortable!).  However, once again house selling has kicked me up the proverbial to whip up a couple of cushions to ‘complete the look’.  Guys, cushions are so quick to make! It’s ridiculous. We all know it, but somehow clothing is far more exciting to make & Silly because now I’ve made a couple more cushions I get a huge amount of pleasure every single day.  And that doesn’t happen with the dress that gets worn once a fortnight ( or more likely every blue moon).

So first of all look at what is possible in less than an hour. Yes, it’s crazy that this luscious barkcloth cushion was that simple.

Envelope back cushion

It’s got an envelope back and I referred to the instructions in the Sew Over It Vintage book just to overcome any slowness caused by a faulty memory.

Sew over it Vintage book cushion

However, I made this using one long strip of fabric, folded in the right proportions, as opposed to three pieces so that the only seams needed were the side seams. This is the fabric that I have used for blinds in my bedroom but it so suits the colours in my living room too. Love it. Simple way to showcase the awesome vintage greens and turquoises & crazy huge flowers.

But let me tell you more about this cushion!  It has an awesome secret.  Well, not really a secret, but it reveals an awesome function- only really of interest to fellow sewsters I suspect!


This is an idea that I had years ago when I was practising bound buttonholes (erm, looking back it appears that this took place in the summer of…..2012!!). At the time I was referring to Karen’s Ebook but without a garment to make buttonholes for. I thought that if I chose the buttons (some special wooden ones bought at a craft fair) and made the buttonholes for them on a big enough piece of fabric, they could form the closure for a rather nice cushion.

Bound buttonholes

The buttonholes were executed rather splendidly in several hours (three years ago.  [cough in embarrassment]).

bound buttonhole

And I had these wonderful felt flowers given as a gift ( also far too long ago, but at least they are being used now).

felt flowers

They were such a thoughtful gift along with some sweet beaded felt beads, so I decorated the front of the cushion with the flowers and used the beads to make tassles for the corners.


I’m so pleased to finally put the beautiful felt decorations to such everyday glory- this took 20 minutes to sew the cushion and an hour in front of the TV sewing the decorations. And it keeps on giving me smiles!!

So do you think you’ll put your bound buttonhole practice to good use ? Or do you leave them on fabric scraps? Do you also think that there is a greater return on ‘sewing time’ with sewing projects for the home when you get pleasure from them all around you? For me, as long as I can get them over and done with as quickly as possible I am more than happy to benefit from the inner sewing glow they deliver.  But my house will never be over run with home made table runners, cushions, bedding and the like, much as I like the idea & much as I probably collect such idyllic images on Pinterest….

Anise jacket

Apologies in advance for repeating this post- but through all my laptop debacle & having to use the WordPress app on the iPad I have inadvertently deleted some of my recent posts.  I am trying to put it right, but I’m sorry I lost all of the lovely comments you all left me.  I need to keep a record of this jacket on my blog though, so here it is again.  Hopefully word for word.  If you missed it the first time around, hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

So here it is, the most proud moment of my sewing history I think I can say. I am reporting back on my Anise jacket and I am stoked. It’s lined, it has welt pockets and bound buttonholes. It has the cutest Peter Pan collar that sits with such a lovely roll over the neckline. It fits me like a glove, with enough room for a cardigan or sweater. I feel a little je ne sais quoi in it, when I wear my beret and leather gloves. It’s cute, cosy, but most of all, I feel I have done a really good job. You might be like me with the things you make – the first one to point out the flaws when someone offers you a compliment? Well, that is my default position too. However for this jacket there is only one slight 80 degree corner at the inner lining I would hastily show you if you said, “nice jacket”. And for me that is a record. I see just one flaw, & if you see any others, please keep them to yourself & maintain my illusion!!

Anise jacket 1


I have made a couple of more complex semi-tailored items before, with my Vintage Vogue jacket, my Spearmint coat and more recently my Andy coat, so anticipated a lot of groundwork & preparation and quite a lot of nerve-wracking techniques in making this jacket. You have to be patient with a make like this. I would suggest it will not be completed in a day unless you are pretty pro or don’t sleep.

Anise jacket 2


I chose this grey flannel fabric for the outer and polka dot satin for the lining. I also used calico (muslin) for underlining. It took me about four sittings to make this (quite long stints- between 4 and six hours). It was my post Christmas – pre New year make. Something to lavish attention on having sewn like a whirling dervish as I made Christmas presents for friends and family in every spare moment.

The Anise jacket pattern by Colette patterns, has a supplementary instruction booklet you can buy if you need more help, but I have to say that the instructions were extremely clear in the pattern alone. Maybe though I have a few coat makes under my belt and so have those experiences to build on.

It’s funny that there is a whole lot of work that you have to do for a jacket like this before you start constructing the jacket itself, eg attaching the underlining, thread tracing the pattern markings.

If you opt for bound buttonholes you need to make them as one of the first steps, which feels odd since buttonholes and buttons are usually one of the finishing touches for a shirt or skirt. You can make this jacket with regular buttonholes, but I was always going to make bound buttonholes, and can never make bound buttonholes any other way than without followingKaren’s e-book. It is my bound buttonhole bible! And I think they look pretty smart this time.

Anise jacket 3


So having completed the buttons, you then get on to engineering the collar. It’s cut with two pieces- an upper collar and the undercollar. The undercollar is cut on the bias. There is also an extra piece of interfacing, with its own special pattern piece that looks like a stretched sliver of a crescent moon. This is for reinforcing the collar roll, and I am convinced it’s what adds to the collar behaving itself beautifully, with enough loft before, yes, rolling as it folds. When I mentioned this to my Mum, conversation went along these lines,

Anise jacket 4


ME:”There’s even an extra piece of interfacing like a crescent along the collar at the neckline”

MUM (matter of fact) :”Yes, I know”

ME: (In my head) “How come you know all this stuff – there is nothing you don’t seem to already know! I wish I could know as much about sewing as you do!” You see I can remember my Mum going to evening classes in the 70s, when classes like “tailoring” were run up & down the country at local technical colleges, even in Somerset! Sigh. OK back to the story, the Anise story.

Anise jacket5


I can’t remember if I made the welt pockets before or after the collar. But what a joy they were to make too, but you feel more practised having four bound buttonholes under your belt – welt pockets follow similar principles, with that nerve inducing & very final slashing through the centre of the rectangle you’ve just sewn in the actual front of your jacket, for the pocket linings & welts to get manipulated within.

Anise jacket 6

I’m afraid I have no drama to recount about putting the jacket pieces together to make a 3D garment.  The sleeves are cut in two pieces & set in with some gathering stitches at the sleeve head.  This fabric by the way sucks up gathers like a sponge, absorbing the tucks into its wonderful dense self.  And it is like a blanket.  I love it!  The jacket lining has special pieces for the front & back, but uses the same sleeve pieces (but with a shorter hem).  The centre back is designed for a massive expansion pleat.

Anise jacket 7

Attaching the lining to the jacket- this time I made the decision not to bag the lining.  That was quite a biggie for me as it is how I have done it before, & you know me, I try to machine as much as I can.  This time, however, I followed the instructions in the pattern – attaching the sleeves to the lining at their hems, then handsewing the lining sleevehead into the lining body.   The main hem is handsewn – first the jacket’s hem itself, then the lining’s hem is handstitched but hidden under the lining’s hem fold.

Anise jacket

My most fiddly bit is the front facing corners where the lining at hem & facing meet to form a right angle.  One side is better than the other, hence one side being 80 degrees & a bit squirched.

So, I promised to share the trials & tribulations with making this jacket, & I have to say they fall mainly into the whoop whoop department.  And working with this flannel was a joy – it was easy to press underneath a silk organza cloth, with steam.  I had no problems with it at all.  And it is very forgiving, handstitching just disappears within its dense fibres.

Sewing this jacket has helped me decide that I need more makes like this in my projects, so that some at least of my future handmade wardrobe is invested with risk & learning (as set out here).  I don’t need to always make fast clothes!

ANise jacket 9

A big thank you to my Dad who took the on location photos.  Aren’t they so much better than my usual! And I’m wearing my new Miette skirt..

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 🙂

Bound buttonhole stand off

Hello all, how are you?

Just for some entertainment check out my new specs:

They have transition lenses too

These are my driving, TV watching, walking around glasses.  They cost more than an arm & a leg, but they are totally worth it.  The lenses react to bright light.

Reading specs- yep I am officially old

And because I do a lot of close work, sewing, PC using, reading, iPhone reading even … it appears that I need reading glasses because my eyes were getting so tired.  No longer.  I can now peer over my purple frames & look scary/ official.  I don’t think bifocals would have worked yet for me, which meant the task of choosing frames was doubly hard.  These particularly amuse me!

So, onto the substance of this post …

I must admit that I’ve been shying away from continuing with my Vintage Vogue jacket because I was scared.  I’d reached  section 5: the bound buttonholes.  (Cue: dramatic music)

To be honest it didn’t help that I haven’t much sewing time at the moment – manic summer weekends, training (joke!) for a half marathon PLUS even more important my boys have been around, the eldest back from Uni being a graduate in Manchester for a couple of weeks.    And my youngest with me full time for a couple of weeks before he too may fly the nest for Uni himself….results today (chew fingernails).

The jacket was waiting: I’d used my tracing wheel & carbon to transfer the markings to the underlining (don’t need to transfer to fashion fabric which was useful to know up front).  I then attached the underlining to every single piece by hand basting.  THEN, I had to baste through along all of the markings, so they can be seen on the outside as well.   Darts were made & back seam was sewn.  However, I was scared of tackling these confounding openings & had read up on many internet resources just to delay the inevitable.

I actually had the greatest desire to sew something super quick, but also committed to my Rooibos, there was no way I could allow myself to start something else (not forgetting Miss P’s top draftalong that I am also midway through)  So, I have made the Rooibos bodice toile, just need to decide on final fabric choice which itself is a quandary.

Anyway, yes, I was scared.  No idea what of.  Failure? Not being able to do it?  Not having enough time?  Not finding instructions that worked? I don’t know to be honest, perhaps I should have coached myself earlier- it may have got me in gear sooner.  Anyway last night was the night.  I gave myself an hour (watching The Hour on iplayer !) to play around. Watching iplayer meant that I couldn’t follow an online tutorial so I took my Vogue Sewing Book & found a method to try (there are three in this book: one piece folded method; two piece method and organza patch method).  I went for the one piece folded method.

My pattern did not have a piece for the buttonholes, so getting the right size & stitching the right distance away from the opening was the trickiest part.  I remembered that once upon a time I did actually make a welt pocket for a pair of men’s chino type trousers.  SO long ago though.  Knowing that this was a test run made it less scary.

Bound buttonhole practice

The middle buttonhole is my last and takes the first place on the podium.  The “lips” are the right size as opposed to the other two whose “lips” overlap too much because they are too big.

Here is the reverse once I have brought through the binding & finished the vertical edges.  I have decided to go for a plainer horizontal effect on my bindings (I could have gone for deliberate contrast: bias or vertical stripes).

The weekend will bring me some time I think to do it for real.

It doesn’t stop here though.  I may get part one completed, making them into the front + underlining.  Later on there is another step “finishing” them & combining with the inside facing.  Yikes!