Buttonholes have always been my waterloo. I grew up sewing on my grandmother’s old black enamel Singer sewing machine which had one stitch, straight. Zig-zag and things like buttonholes seemed like exotic, perplexing mysteries to me. Even years later, when I bought myself a modern sewing machine with myriad stitches, the buttonhole setting eluded me. So for years and years, I’ve been making clothes that don’t require working buttons. Can you imagine how much trouble that is? It’s ridiculous.
So every time my husband asked me to make him a shirt, I’d kick myself internally for being so damn afraid of figuring out these buttonholes. It wasn’t until recently, when reading a post on Gertie’s Blog For Better Sewing about her frustration with buttonholes that I became brave enough to tackle them myself.
First, I did a little research and discovered my machine had a 4-step buttonholer, not the one-step as I erroneously assumed. So you can imagine how far I was getting laboring under this delusion.
After much trial and error, I finally felt brave enough to give it a shot. And what better way than with a man’s shirt for my husband. There’s way no way I could chicken out and avoid the buttons on a button up shirt. I’d have to make it work.
So let’s start with Simplicty 3875, a basic shirt with a casual shawl-style collar.
Mr. Moe picked out this really great shade of green fabric for his shirt. It’s nice lightweight cotton poly mix, nothing fancy, for about $1.99 a yard. Low pressure. Knowing his love of green and gray, I picked out some gunmetal gray, pearlized buttons and considered matching gray top stitching. Though, as you’ll see below, I later decided against the top stitching. I also have plans for embroidering a small penguin on the shirt front, but that will come later.
Cutting out and assembly went fairly smoothly, though I ran into some mystifying instructions when it came to the collar. I pushed ahead, figuring it out based on what I’ve seen on other shirts and while it might not be perfectly correct, it’ll work.
And now, the buttons. Careful measuring, obsessive and slow sewing and finally… I did it. I fucking did it! They are far from perfect, but they will most definitely do. I figure with more practice, I will have the buttonholer sorted out and we will be good friends. The last one I did, unfortunately the top – and most visible – buttonhole, was a bit wonky, but hopefully most of my errors will be covered by the buttons themselves.
And now, the finished product on my charming husband.