Four things that saved my buttonhole life

I am not good with math. And I don’t mean that in the “Oh, hee, hee. I’m just a silly girl and I’m not good with numbers. hee. hee. I like chocolate. hee. hee.” I mean that in the slight panic I fall into when asked to figure out something that involves numbers. I’m ok with that. I’m plenty good at other things. I just double check everything and speak slowly when giving answers.

But, this not being great with math has been a bit of a struggle when it comes to figuring out my buttonhole placement. I’m horrible at working out these things. i.e. “OK. I have 10 inches of center front, 7 buttonholes to make that are vertical and buttons that are 3/8 inch long, how much space do I need in between each one?” It’s one of the things that kept my away from woven blouses because the buttons never came out straight or where I wanted them!

Enter four simple things that changed my buttonhole life.

#1. Actually marking the center front and fold line. Yeah, that’s right. I used to just eyeball it.

#2.. Not marking the actual buttonhole placement from the pattern. Now, I mark my bust point (is that the right word?). This is where the fronts cross over my bust and would gape if not for a button. From there, I use #3

#3. The SimFlex buttonhole or sewing gauge. There are no words for how much I love this thing. Just figure out how many buttonholes you need and open the gauge. The gauge will spread and you can mark the remainder of your buttonholes equidistant. For the current blouse, I marked all the ‘middle’ buttonholes.

#4. Next, I read in the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction that to mark my button placement, line up the front of the blouse wrong side to wrong side.

For horizontal buttonholes, place the pin all the way to the right.

Mark on the right side of the button side.

Attach buttons (ok, this is the sleeve cuff not the front I’ve been showing. I was sewing 1.5 inch buttonholes down the front of the blouse at 1:00 a.m. I just had to make myself stop. Buttons can get done later.)


And lest ye think I’ve forgotten about the dress formerly known as the Panama Dress, I haven’t. But, it’s in UFO waters. I had an invisible zipper in, but it broke. I now need to put in a regular zipper (piping was too much for invisible zip) with a center application. I haven’t done that since 1994. And it’s winter. So, it might wait until I can actually wear it. Or I get up my nerve to tackle a center zip.

Looks sad doesn’t it, just hanging there wanting to move from the door knob to the closet.


I’m still working on the blog re-design. It’s not quite where I want it, but getting closer.

I don’t even know where to begin….

So, I’ve made my second woven blouse ever. Yep, 15 years sewing and I’ve made two woven blouses. Chalk it up to fear and loathing of even hems, buttonholes and setting in sleeves.


You know what I learned? I don’t know how to sew a blouse! How do I know that? Take a look at this 12-2007-117 blouse. Before I begin this dissection, let me say I don’t think the blouse is awful and I’ll wear it. It just showed me all that I do not know and what I need to work on for the future.

1. Learn to mark your sleeves so you know which is the right sleeve and which is the left. See my sleeve packets? Those should be in the back not the front.


2. Women’s shirts have buttons on the left. Not the right. Remember that.


3. Ummm, I misunderstood exactly what I was supposed to pleat in the sleeves. My tucks aren’t large enough. So instead of this interesting top, I’ve got a big sleeved pirate’s blouse.

4. Oy. I have gots to learn how to do a better sway back adjustment on blouses. I did about an inch prior to cutting it out. I tried adding some darts to take in, but it didn’t really work out for me. I know it’s not the hips because I took out the side seams and it was still doing this.


5. Thank heavens for the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction and Singer’s Sewing Essentials. I needed to look to see how to set in sleeves, notching vs clipping curves, marking and making buttonholes — you name it, I looked it up.

It’s okay. I posted way back in September about needing to make more blouses. I have the shirtings, I have the patterns, I’m on a mission. Overall I’m satisfied, just some room for improvement!