I’m a project girl. I love the motivation I get when I’ve finished a step, and I only have four, three, two, one left until my project is complete. There’s a certain sort of satisfaction that comes with every bit of progress, and that satisfaction still happens if you’re the type to take a long time on a project (cough, cough… why are you looking at me?). That satisfaction comes to a screeching halt, however, when you realize there’s something you literally have no idea how to do. Google is great for things like edge stitching – oh, it’s exactly what it sounds like! – but for others, it’s a whooole different ballgame, baby. And my weakness? Buttonholes.
I can do a zipper, even a lapped one, with no issue at all. The first lapped zipper I ever tried, I did without looking up instructions: I’d seen them on my vintage garments and thought I could do it by instinct. And boy, how cool did it feel when I was right! Unfortunately, though, that “instinct” didn’t extend to buttonholes. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: I’m afraid of them. Truly.
I feel like my nice Simplicity reprint pattern was laughing in my face, too. So blasé. 10. Make buttonholes in right front. …That’s it?! Are you kidding me?? How could this single line of instruction possibly comprise the vast amount of stress-inducing steps behind making a buttonhole? All the worrying, the crying, the staring at online tutorials and hyperventilating… Maybe I’m being dramatic. Though those online tutorials definitely gave me an excuse to draaaw this fear out and keep it away until I felt I was “ready” – whatever that means.
Come on, honey. We’re badass seamstresses making completely unique, handmade vintage garments here. A buttonhole is NO match for me! …Right?
Well, apparently, WRONG. When I finally mustered up the courage to try out the buttonholes on my dress itself, one try after the next failed where none of the previous trials had. After I got the thought to then inspect my machine, I realized that it wasn’t my sewing skills that fell short—it was my machine! In the exact moment that I went to sew the buttonholes in my dress, my sewing machine decided to konk out, leaving me feeling disappointed in both my sewing skills and my machine. An ultimate low.
The vintage world, however, was watching out for me. The day after I admitted to myself that the yellow graduation dress I had been planning months in advance of my ceremonies was no longer possible to finish, I found a navy dress—my other school color—at a vintage fair for a fantastic price. And it fit me like a glove. Praise to the vintage gods! In the end, however, I spent more money than I had intended and still have an unfinished dress with no buttonholes.
You win some, you lose some.
Though here is my win, my gorgeous ’50s dress! It’s incredibly hard to photograph, but this little number has a fabulous amount of detail. Self-covered buttons down the left side bodice, a bow on the left hip, a drop-waist seam… I love everything about this dress, and it was the perfect piece for my graduation: joyful, hopeful, and proud.
These gorgeous grad photos were taken by my talented sorority sister, Sojourner. Check her work out!
I know one day I will defeat the evil buttonhole…but with special thanks to a faulty machine, it is not this day. What sewing step gives you the most grief? Is it buttonholes, zippers, gathering? How do you defeat your biggest issue? And perhaps the most important question (for me): how do you sew a damn buttonhole beautifully?!
P.S. Look out for my (first!) weekly post on the best eBay deals for a vintage wardrobe this Sunday (TOMORROW)!