Monday, 23 November 2009

Elephant Impressions and Buttonhole Trauma

Back in March I won a pattern for a lovely asymmetrical jacket in a giveaway on Kitschy Coo's blog. It came in size 18m - 2T and 3T - 4T, and as at the time Munchkin was 8 months old, I thought I had plenty of time to do it. A couple of months ago I bought the fabric for it - some elephant print cotton and some brown denim, and mentally made a note to start it soon.

And then last week Munchkin was officially 18 months old! And I had not sewn a single seam :( So I started it the very next day, and it didn't take long to do - one child-free afternoon and a couple of evenings and it was complete apart from the button holes. I am frightened of buttonholes. They appear to require a level of sewing skill that is beyond me (and we STILL haven't done them at college). So grandma pickledweasel volunteered her fancy computerised shiny new sewing machine and its automatic buttonhole maker. This was the result:

For some reason it got stuck twice when it was sewing, and the thread bunched up. Which meant when it came to cutting the hole it was nigh on impossible to avoid cutting some thread as well, and it all came unravelled. And then to add insult to injury the hole wasn't big enough for the bloody button in the first place, despite me and grandma pickledweasel having taken measurements twice.

I nearly cried. I swore a lot. The whole experience up til then had been such a pleasure (I find 'home grown' patterns so much easier than commercially produced ones. They make sense!). Grandma pickledweasel suggested smaller buttons, but that still wouldn't solve the problem of the rapidly unravelling buttonhole. I eventually decided to stitch the buttonhole together and leave a small gap in the middle, push the shank of the button through the gap and sew it on the other side. So it looks like the coat has buttons and button holes. Then I sewed press studs on the other side so the coat will fasten.

It means the coat isn't reversible, which I am gutted about, but it does make it wearable. Massive lesson learnt - never ever ever make anything that requires button holes ever again ;) Munchkin likes the coat, and whenever 'elephant coat' is mentioned she does her elephant impression, which involves a sort of trumpety noise accompanied by a flailing arm, which is meant to be a trunk. The arm action is very similar to that of her washing machine impression. I may put her in for Britain's Got Talent next year. Obviously she will wear the coat to her audition :D


  1. Oh no! I hate button holes too, and the automatic function cannot be trusted with something so thick. So here's what you do... Cut your buttonhole back open with a craft knife. Check to make sure the button fits through. Then set your machine to a tight zigzag (mine is 3 width and .3 height) and zigzag over the edges of your buttonhole, ie one side zigzag hits fabric, other side lands in the hole itself. This will bind your edges so they don't unravel.

    Much longer tute on 'buttonholing when your machine hates you' here:

    Alternatively, I've handsewn buttonholes with embroidery thread. Relatively painless and something you can do while watching TV! You will get this coat back to it's reversible glory!! It's beautiful, and Munchkin looks adorable.

  2. The coat is beautiful, love the elephant fabric, and munchkin looks adorable in it! I am terrified of button holes myself and reading this post has confirmed my fears! Long live press studs, and snap fastening!

  3. Thank you Amanda! I shall try and save my terrible button holes. Just not yet, I'm still a bit traumatised :)

    Kym, I'm sorry I scared you - maybe we should form some sort of support group? :)

  4. This coat is really beautiful. You're inspiring me ...