Thursday, August 14, 2008

Advance 7894 Jacket - Almost Done!

I'm almost done with the jacket that goes with the skirt below (it's actually further along than this, all done except for buttonholes and insertion of shoulder pads, I just don't have a more recent pic), and have been almost done for almost a month. For a good part of that time, I was heavily researching various methods to make bound buttonholes. One is supposed to get better with practice; mine got worse, no matter which method I tried. Somehow, despite all of my research, my eyes glanced over the best method -- for me.

I have a suit from the '50s, and I was stubbornly determined to recreate the bound buttonholes in that suit. None of the methods I tried looked like it. Then I saw Ann Steeves' tutorial on her blog, Gorgeous Things. She discusses the method in the context of welt pockets, but it is the same method (only smaller) for buttonholes.

My first one came out perfectly, as did the next three or four. And it looked just the the ones on my '50s jacket! But I was still too traumatized by my previous experiences with the other methods to cut into my beautiful Advance jacket. And I had registered for a couple of PR classes so I worked on those. The jacket awaits. I'm almost done with my SNF jacket, then I'll finish this one.

If you must suffer all of the agonies of the various techniques, some of my research is posted on Artisans Square here and pasted for your convenience below (but go to AS to see what others had to say, it was fun):

Since my last post, I have been doing extensive research in various buttonhole styles, all without having to leave my house or order another book from Amazon. Because I already have most of them. At least two of them mention machine+hand finished and provide detailed instructions, so I'm all set to practice that.

Those books and others gave many different ways of doing welt buttonholes, and I think I'm going to practice a few of them also on scraps with fused interfacing. Sooner or later, they'll come in handy. I already have the scraps with interfacing from my interfacing tests.

"Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket" by Creative Publishing International discusses both approaches (welt and machine+hand) with detailed instructions and very clear illustrations (pp 116-119). It also says to do welt buttonholes before you sew on the facing, do machine+hand afterwards.

"Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated" has multiple ways to do bound buttonholes (five-line patch method, organza patch method, one-piece folded method, two-piece method, and options to add cording to each) at pp. 266-270. I found these more confusing because there are far fewer illustrations, and they are drawings instead of photographs. It says in the first sentence to make bound buttonholes before attaching the facing.

"Sewing Secrets from the Fashion Industry," edited by Susan Huxley, addresses one type of bound buttonhole, using a folded patch at pp. 92-94. This is the same approach as in the "Tailoring" book above, and also has lots of nice pictures plus some helpful tips on how to approach each step. There is a page that goes into completing the facing with a slash, or eye slit, finish (p. 95). There is also a page on completing the facing with a windowpane finish, for that uber-couture look (my phrase, not SSFI's). My jacket is designed to wear open, so I'm not so worried about how the inside will look, probably would settle for the slash finish just to have a hope of finishing the JCC in time.

Adele P. Margolis in "the Complete Book of Tailoring" at pp. 307 through 315 discusses both the one-strip method (her term for the folded patch) and the two-strip method. I had just been wondering which was better, and there she says right on p. 311: "This one-strip method of making a bound buttonhole is basic, easy, and practically foolproof." She could be talking to me. She then goes on to say in the next paragraph: "In all honesty, however, one must admit that in very heavy or very sheer materials it is very difficult to handle the tiny strips produced by Method I. For such Fabrics, the two-strip method of making a bound buttonhole is preferable." I love the way Adele P. Margolis writes. She still feels vital today, and this book is dated 1978. I believe it is Kenneth King who pointed people towards her, saying that so much of what is being written today is derivative of her work. I was sad to see that Ms. Margolis states authoritatively on p. 307 that "Bound buttonholes are always made on the garment before the facing is turned back or attached."

Shannon has a nice tutorial on the two-strip method, and I'd be interested to hear from her if she has used both and prefers one over the other for various types of fabric, or sticks with the two-strip method.

Now, I've admitted that my facing is attached, so why am I still reading up on bound buttonholes? Because I want to try them on this jacket. Fools rush in, etc. etc.

All it took was one reference to give me hope. Claire Shaeffer, who discussed the patch method for bound buttonholes at p. 87 of "Couture Sewing Techniques" and the two-strip method at p. 89* says on page 86 the following: "In home sewing and ready-to-wear production, bound buttonholes are made on the garment section before the garment is assembled. In couture, the buttonhole locations and even the buttonhole size may not be finally decided until after the sections are sewn together and the garment's finished length is determined. . . If the garment is already machine-stitched, it's somewhat more cumbersome, but the buttonholes can nonetheless be completed without difficulty." Ahhhhh. That describes my whole approach to this jacket -- although "clueless" is probably a more accurate description of my work method than "couture". The facing is easily folded out, so I continue to consider this approach. Accuracy in marking will be the difficult step.

* Claire goes into much more detail on the two-strip technique, with pictures, in the book, "High Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World's Best Designers" at pp. 105-108. She has you complete each step for all buttonholes, before proceeding to the next step. Claire also discusses the windowpane opening in this book at pp. 60-62, which had me furrowing my brow in confusing. Maybe it would be clearer with practice.

I'm going to practice the patch and two-strip methods, and if I go down in flames, I'll do machine+hand buttonholes. Although I must admit that machine buttonholes just scare me. It feels so out of control.

One last option: The inimitable Roberta Carr presents another approach to the bound buttonhole. She discusses the "Spanish Snap Buttonhole" at p. 187 of her lovely book, "Couture, the Art of Fine Sewing". Here is what she says enticingly about the Spanish snap buttonhole:

"Frequently used by the designers, this buttonhole has very thin lips that can hardly be seen, I like to call them "invisible" bound buttonholes. The advantage of a Spanish snap buttonhole is that it can be made very small -- as one might use on a silk blouse. On the other hand, Spanish snap buttonholes are equally effective used on a tweed or nubby fabric with the lips made from wool flannel or worsted."

So I'll practice those too, using the making the lips from both my fashion fabric (a rather light linen/tencel blend) and from the navy ambiance that I used for the Hong Kong seam finishes. Unless someone warns me away from either, or suggests a third, superior alternative. What about navy organza, which I happen to have?

I hope that this summary is useful to others, I know that I am really interested in trying at least three of these approaches on scraps (patch, two-strip and Spanish snap), and perhaps if one looks nice, then I will recreate a strip of the front with facing attached, and practice on that. If I can get them looking halfway decent, I'll move on to my jacket. If not, machine+hand.

I did make significant progress on my straight linen/tencel skirt today, which fits quite well, so I still have a chance of finishing the JCC. I need to cut out the lining, but first I have to figure out if I will stick with the pattern directions (separate waistband) or do a faced waistband with lining hanging from the facing. I'm also interested in elastic in the back to help with changing waist measurements. Lastly, I may want to add a top to the lining/skirt for structure and not having to think in the morning about what to throw on under the suit. I can also sew dress shields to the top part of the lining. Claire Shaeffer shows a gorgeous example of this at p. 102 of her "Couture Sewing Techniques" book but without how-to instructions. Does one make the one-piece slip (top and skirt) and then attach the skirt to the waist?

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to read this thread and offer me your thoughts. I thought it was really neat to read them and see them echoed in my books; you bring the books to life.


P.S. Just in case anyone is interested, "Tailoring, Traditional and Contemporary Techniques," has very nice discussions of three types of "fabric" buttonholes (which they acknowledge are traditionally called "bound" buttonholes but are really piped or corded): (1) the five-line patch, (2) the butterfly with a faced opening, and (3) the corded trips. They give some suggested variations and discuss the advantages and limitations of each method. Essentially, I could spend the rest of June exploring just the stuff in pp. 155-168 of this book. They provide four guidelines, including "complete one buttonhole at a time". But two other references said to work on all buttonholes at once, doing each step on all buttonholes at the same time for uniformity. The latter makes more sense to me, any thoughts?

1 comment:

L'Haute Couturière said...

In this post you mentioned the 'Complete Book of Tailoring' by Adele Margolis. I have an opportunity to buy this book. I am looking for sewing books that teach me how to draft jacket and dress patterns from scratch and that show me how to modify existing patterns. I am also interested in those that will teach me how to tailor. What does the Margolis book deal with? Is it a good resource? Please, let me know.

Many thanks,
L'Haute Couturière