How to Determine Button Placement & Silk Twist vs. Poly-Cotton Thead for Buttonholes

Since the Donna Blouse is a self-drafted pattern, I have to work out all the details as the process of construction is underway.

Handmade buttonholes sewn with double strand of poly-cotton thread. The first series of stitches were not strong enough resulting in a need to stitch the buttonholes again. Clearly, this indicates that I must learn to sew them with silk twist next time.

Close-up of the finished buttonholes.

I had some difficulties getting buttonholes to come out looking small and neat when I practiced using silk buttonhole twist. I also found that it needs a bigger hand sewing needle than the one I usually use. So, I decided to experiment with using a double strand of poly-cotton thread. The resulting buttonholes were not sturdy enough. I ended up having to do another round of buttonhole stitches on top of what I’d previously done to keep them from fraying.

I plan to become very friendly with silk buttonhole twist after this! I also need to find a needle size that I can use with it that produces neat stitches. Since the twist is as thick as embroidery floss I’d tried an embroidery needle but it proved too big. I need to find smaller embroidery needles that will work with the twist but be light enough and easy enough to handle so that my stitches turn out neat.

Considering that I haven’t made handmade buttonholes in such a long time I’ll consider this at least is progress and work on improving gradually.

Sewing on a shank button. From “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing”, 1971 edition.

1. I followed the directions for sewing shank buttons that is given in “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing”, 1971 Edition.

2. The flat, bottom part of the shank must align with the direction of the buttonhole opening. Since the buttonholes are vertical the bottom of the shank was placed along the center front line.

3. To determine buttonhole placement the blouse was put onto the dress form. The blouse was then pinned in place along the Center Front lines of both sides.

Each buttonhole was opened and a glass headed pin inserted through the top on the right side and then through to the left side along Center Front.

All other pins were then removed except for those on the left side of the blouse.

Note: There isn’t any photo for Step 3.

4. From the pin (the white glass pin head shows in the photo) I measured down half the length of the buttonhole and marked with Tailor’s Chalk. This is where the flat end of the shank will be sewed.

5. This method worked well. The buttons were all in the right place. As noted in “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing” (1970 edition), with a vertical buttonhole, the buttons rest towards the top of the buttonhole leaving slightly more of the buttonhole visible below.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the outcome and feel a great sense of accomplishment at having gained confidence in these small but important details. I hope these tutorials have helped others and give them the confidence to try making handmade buttonholes. The details for buttonhole placement might come in useful when alterations have been done to the front of a blouse which is buttoned down center front.

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