One step buttonhole woes

Up until I acquired a Janome Sewist sewing machine with a one step button hole facility I had always been able to produce near perfect buttonholes.

I remember that with my first Singer sewing machine that when I did buttonholes I had to swivel the fabric around when I had completed one side of the buttonhole before I could proceed with the other side because there was only forward sewing and no reverse button.  This actually produced pretty fab buttonholes.  Both sides were balanced as they were sewn with the same forward facing stitch.  Because it used the zigzag setting on the machine I was also able to vary the width of the buttonhole creating narrow ones for delicate fabrics and chunkier ones for woollens and the like.

My next Singer sewing machine had a four step buttonhole facility which I thought was great progress and although it was I did find that I had to adjust settings in order to get a balanced buttonhole and they were all the same size regardless of what fabric you were using.

With the Janome I thought a one step buttonhole would be a boon and speed up my sewing time.  How wrong I was.  It works okay so long as there are only two layers of fabric with a piece of interfacing in between.  However if you try to sew a buttonhole next to a seam (on a collar band for instance) and no hope.  All I end up with is a thick wad of thread.  I have never before had to unpick so many buttonholes and redo them.  So rather than saving time it has actually made the sewing process longer.

one step b

I had a cheap second sewing machine (now donated to a relative) that did much better buttonholes using a little shoe foot with markings for buttonhole sizes.  I therefore decided to purchase one of these and try it with the Janome.  I can sew one bar tack and the left hand side of the buttonhole but then have to manually click the return device for the machine to stitch another bar tack and the right hand side thus creating a two step buttonhole.


It does seem to have solved the problem and I have now practically given up with the one step method.

What’s in a name?

When I was thinking about the title of my sewing blog I began to wonder how I should refer to myself – a sewist, a seamstress, a dressmaker, a tailor?

Sewist is a relatively new term for people who sew but also consider themselves artists.  Some may find this term pretentious or that in some way it relates to people who are more amateurs.  I don’t dislike the term and did consider using it.  It could be said that making clothes is a form of sculpture.  A flat piece of fabric is given 3D form by cutting and shaping.  So a word that incorporates the word artist seems a very apt description.

The word seamstress implies more of a professional occupation with someone deriving an income by making clothes for clients.  Dressmaker conjures up a similar image especially in relation to the Kate Winslett film of the same name.

Then there is the word ‘sewer’.  This has to be heard as written down it also has another meaning with the internet definition describing it as ‘ an underground drainage conduit’.  So perhaps not a wise choice for a written blog.

Any of the above descriptions would have worked but in the end I opted for the word seamstress as it seemed a good choice as any.