Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Director of Buttonhole Operations

"A Sewing Life is pleased to announce the promotion of Singer 128, originally of Elizabeth, New Jersey, from Mysterious Vintage Attachments Specialist to Chief Buttonholer. Mr. 128 has overcome a number of challenges in his rapid ascent with the operation, including musty smells, tension shortcomings and chronic snarling in the bobbin region. His triumph today over Bernina 160 and Necchi BU is made all the more impressive by his recent conversion to hand crank operation."

Many bloggers have posted helpful tutorials and videos on vintage buttonholers, but the one who posted the very morning of my successful first run was Brian. Thanks for the information and inspiration! One of Brian's insights was that using the provided feed dog cover can make for tight quarters underneath the buttonholer, and I found that to be very true. In the case of this wool jersey (Vera Wang, from fabric.com), the attachment had no trouble moving the fabric around, but it was a bit nerve-wracking getting everything lined up without distorting the knit. Since Mr. Singer lacks a control to drop the feed dogs, using the cover was mandatory, but happily, everything worked out well in the end. For two of the buttonholes I used some water soluble stabilizer to smooth things along, but it simply added another layer to wrangle and didn't seem to improve the result.

Brian also showed using a center needle position buttonholer with a left needle position machine (in his case, a Kenmore). I bought a Kenmore-branded Greist high shank buttonholer that refuses to attach to my Necchi BU (the shape of the needlebar seems incompatible with the groove in the buttonholer?). Inspired by Brian, I decided to test the Kenmore buttonholer with another recent machine acquisition, a left needle position Japanese machine from the 1960s. All went well until we reached the top left edge of the buttonhole, when the needle hit the rim of the buttonhole opening (the rectangular area where the buttonhole is created) and broke. Too bad! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The real investment in these vintage machines is not the purchase price (small), but the time in researching and testing the various combinations and settings.

Pending better light for modelled photographs (rain, rain, rain here in Western North Carolina for the last four days), here is a preview of the finished cardigan, from the 5-2009 issue of Ottobre Woman.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I have the same problem as you, trying to find the right shank buttonholer for my machine! In my case, I have a German vintage Kenmore with high shank. If you still have your high shank buttonholer, would you be interested in selling it to me? I can't tell which ones are the right ones on ebay!! Thanks, Linda