On Buttons

Just some handsewing to do today and I’m done with my wool trench. In the meantime, here’s another post on making buttonholes. Two years ago I wrote about marking my buttonholes. That was always a PITA for me. I never struggled with actually making buttonholes. Even the first time when it was a four-step buttonhole on my $99 mechanical Brother, I made them for a shirtdress and just plowed through and did them.

For this coat I wanted them to look a touch nicer than my computerized Kenmore can do. For wool this thick, I wanted to go around the buttonhole twice and my computerized machine doesn’t like to do that easily. In general, the vintage Automatic Buttonholer makes nicer buttonholes. But, it really stands out in thicker material. I wrote a fairly thorough review on PatternReview.com during my pre-blog days.

Enter, my Automatic Buttonholer. I actually have three for my machines.  Not really on purpose. I’m not technically a collector of vintage accessories. But, the silver Greist is too large to fit under my Kenmore. So, I got the black Singer (below). Then, when I bought my Featherweight, the beige plastic Singer (above) was included (also too big for my Kenmore). Luckily, all the templates are interchangeable.

I used the 15/16 inch keyhole template for my coat. It took me  no time at all to get through the 15 buttonholes I needed to make. Truly.


  1. oh how gorgeous! I have always wanted to know how they work. Which Kenmore was too small to allow the buttonholer to fit? I have an old 158 series Kenmore.
    They look really professional.

    • My computerized Kenmore was too small in the… hood? I can’t remember the name for the space, LOL. The presser foot lever kept hitting it. It was fine on my vintage Kenmore 1040 and on my Featherweight. Also, no problem with my older Brother computerized machine. The black ones are good because they are low profile. But, the Greist was cheaper at the time because it’s an ‘unknown’ brand (so to speak).

  2. Glad to see this and love the progress you are making on the coat. It was your review on PR that first got me interested in vintage sewing things and now I own several buttonholers and the machines to go with them. Can’t wait to see pictures of the finished coat.

  3. Oh that’s a beautiful button hole-I need to look into one of those buttonholers, I’m starting a trench and I’m not convinced that my Euro-Pro is up to the buttonhole task.

  4. Oh, those old Automatic Buttonholers do made a fabulous buttonhole, don’t they? I have a couple of them myself, and they are better than anything else if you want to go around twice. Plus, the “clackity-clack” noise they make is soothing to me for some reason…kind of reminds me of the the train trips from Washington State to Minnesota and back to visit relatives I took so many times with my folks when I was a child 🙂

  5. Great comment, Nadine C! I love the sound of these buttonholers, too. And that’s a beautiful buttonhole, Cidell! Can’t wait to see the coat!

  6. Really lovely buttonholes! I once got a coat to a seamstress to make the buttonholes but honestly I could have done a better job. One day, when sun and moon aligns in a perfect way 🙂 I will learn to make handsewn buttonholes…

  7. Wow, the buttonhole looks great. I’ll have to remember to try my old mechanical buttonholer when I need perfect buttonholes on a coat.

  8. I bought a vintage singer just to be able to use one of these buttonholers because I hate the keyhole buttonholes that my viking, my fairly expensive at least for me, Viking that I bought just to make automatic buttonholes. I have yet to master said vintage buttonholer. It’s time or I should get rid of the machine and just take it into Jonathon’s and have them make them for me. Yours, btw, look fabulous.

  9. I have a kenmore 19606, very similar to yours and have had tons of trouble with the built-in buttonhole foot. It snags on things and screws up. I have gone to making my button holes with the vintage griest just like yours. Makes much better buttonhole with no angst.

  10. I have two of those buttonholers for Tabby (no clue why–they just came with her), but I’ve never used them. Do you think you could post a tutorial on how to set them up and such? Or direct me to one?

  11. Absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE your blog. It’s fantastic to see a kindred spirit at work – a sewist who also has little love for cleaning 😉 The buttonholes look as though they’ve turned out beautifully. Keep up the good work!

  12. I can’t believe it never occurred to me that I could use the buttonhole attachment from my Mom’s old machine on my machine! Many thanks for the tip!

    • As with so many other things, I couldn’t wait to get a shiny new computerized machine. Got it and the buttonholes leave a lot to be desired. I made a velvet coat for my grand daughter and was too afraid of ruining it with an ugly buttonhole; so I sewed the double breasted coat with beautiful buttons and used giant snaps to fasten the coat. It came out very nice. Since reading your blog, I now remember my mothers old “Domestic” sewing machine with the attachment that made beautiful buttonholes. It was brown with a knob on top and made a lot of noise. Wish I knew what happened to it. I’m going to try to find one right away.

      • There are a few on eBay, generally around $30.

        It actually does not fit on my Bernina 1008…but I’m really happy to know this attachment that was designed in 1948(!) – still works on new machines, and works well!

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