On a day trip from Hart, Germany to Salzburg, Austria yesterday Jack and I happened upon a button shop: Jos. Mayer, on Rathausplatz 1.
I daresay it’s the oldest button shop I will ever go into–it was founded in 1758!
Packing for our excursion, I tossed my swatches in my bag–just in case, even though I didn’t intend to make button-shopping my top priority.
I never know when I’ll find a button shop, much less one that celebrated its 250th birthday several years ago, so it’s best to be prepared.
In my very limited German vocabulary is the the word for “button,” “Knopf.” So when I saw “Knopf” written on the shop window I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Knopf” = “Check this out!”
The next thrill was walking into the shop and and seeing the wall of buttons.
When I pulled out the swatch of blue-green tweed and explained the buttons were for a jacket, the saleslady began retrieving and opening boxes for me with brisk efficiency.
The bluish green translucent buttons grabbed my attention. I had been imagining buttons for my 1941 pattern from the 1940s or ’50s in muted shades of the period, in a marbled opaque, more overtly sportcoatish design.
But these buttons were modern, and that intrigued me. Chameleon-like, they adapted readily to the coloring in my fabric.
I thought it would be interesting to use a new button that would say, “This garment is made from a vintage pattern and probably vintage fabric, but it was made for today.”
Knowing I might still find intriguing choices in Berlin or London, I went ahead and bought these. They came in the perfect sizes for the jacket front and the vented sleeves.
I was almost sorry to make a button purchase so decisively and quickly this early in my trip but then thought I would keep looking for another interesting match. After all, looking is a great the best part of the fun of button-shopping, I think.
What would bring out the best qualities in my latest finds?
Among the ridiculously wonderful simple pleasures in my life as a sewer is seeing how my latest acquisitions go together with what’s in my stashes.
These buttons, from a Spitalfields vintage fair in London, work nicely with this Italian linen-rayon.
This is often how my projects now start out. I may see a winning combination of a pattern and a fabric. Later (as in minutes, hours, or years) I may see a richer relationship with additional fabrics or with buttons that seem to have been made for each other.
Many times I’ve had a fabric in my stash that appealed to me and yet didn’t have the right complements to bring out its best qualities, so it remained unsewn. I’ve wondered whether I made a mistake keeping that fabric.
For me, making a bound buttonhole is a little like making a souffle. They’re both out of the ordinary, and require preparation and care. And every time I make either a bound buttonhole or a souffle I feel a small sense of accomplishment.
This 1959 jacket calls for bound buttonholes. But it didn’t even occur to me to follow the pattern instructions.
Maybe this method does work, but probably not for my bulky, ravelly fabric.
Just as I have favorite souffle recipes, I have a favorite “recipe” for bound buttonholes. It comes from the book Jackets for Real People by Marta Alto, Susan Neall, and Pati Palmer and is also demonstrated by Marta on the Jackets for Real People DVD. I appreciate demos because there are never enough words or still pictures in a book to show every step.
I get good results when I follow the Organza Patch Method, but I always wonder whether I can pull this off again, in the particular fabric I’m working with. So yesterday afternoon I made some samples.
This button is shaped like a deep dish pie pan. I learned that it doesn’t need quite as wide a buttonhole as a thick button with straight sides.
I underlined my fashion fabric scrap the same as I will with the jacket front. Then I basted two vertical guidelines to show the end points of the buttonholes and horizontal guidelines for where the fabric will be slashed to create the buttonhole.
I cut a rectangle of organza on the bias a little wider and longer than the buttonhole, and centered it over the guidelines. Then I basted the rectangle in place.
The vertical guidelines represent the width of the buttonholes. The organza is basted in place. I stitched 1/8 inch on each side of the basted center line to form a box.
Seen from the wrong side, the stitched box. ( I fell short of the right guideline.)
I like to use a rotary cutter to start the slash in the very center. Then I switch to very sharp tailors’ scissors to cut the triangles right up to the corners.
The “window” seen from the right side. I always like this moment.
Make the lips for the buttonhole. Jackets for Real People recommends cutting them on the bias for plaids. I like to see a plaid through a window I’ve cut in stiff paper or an old business card to preview choices in color and pattern. Also, it’s just fun.
The diagonal lines on my preview window/template are aligned with the grain.
Rectangles cut for lips. I didn’t try to match to the window for this sample.
Baste two rectangles together, right sides together, through the center lengthwise. Press open.
Position the lips under the window. I find it tricky to do this perfectly evenly. You can see the organza sticking out slightly at this point.
Pinned and ready to be stitched.
Quoting from Jackets for Real People, “Fold back fashion fabric, exposing long sides. Stitch long sides, then ends.” I couldn’t capture this in a photograph. The demo on the DVD shows just what to do. Just know that the precision will pay off.
The third sample I tried looks nice. You have to look hard to see a tiny bit of organza on the right short end. I’m giving myself a passing grade.
Will it fit comfortably?
This is a little snug. It could work, but better to make the jacket buttonholes very slightly longer.