The Sewing Place

Buttonhole Panic - Which?

Gernella

Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« on: August 25, 2017, 11:50:24 AM »
Normally when I want a buttonhole, my Expression 2 just does it, perhaps a bit of help needed on thicker fabric but gets the job done.

Yesterday I wanted 4, followed by 5 later on.  The try outs on the fabric were short one side, never happened before and on a nice fabric that should not create problems with thickness.  Eventually I got what I wanted using a spare foot I had, but it set me off in a little spiral.  My machine is 8 years old, my other machines are manual buttonholes, I needed a reliable buttonholer (of course I can't remember the last time I needed one), so I started hunting.

My old Janome 7000 did them perfectly, stick your button in one end, choose your buttonhole and put your foot down.  Perfect every  time.  I have to admit I nearly pressed the buy button such was the urge the get that perfect buttonhole. Only the fact that I need a new laptop stopped me.  Mind you I did enjoy the thrill of looking but it made me wonder, which machine does the most reliable buttonhole.  They do all manner of fancy stitches, which you usually don't want, but which does the most consistent buttonholes?

The machine I'd eventually settled on was the Janome SMD 3000, reasonable price, not many stitches and Janome.  I was hoping the buttonhole stitch was just as good as it used to be.

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Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2017, 12:19:24 PM »
A lot of facts to consider and I don't know the particular Janome models in question (there's just too many of them even if they are closely related). Your old 7000 was probably a notch over the SMD 3000, but like you say, if you are lucky the general build, stich formation and buttonholer functions can be exactly the same. SMD receives good reviews, but again, it's always in relation to the price level. Buttonholes are the tricky challenges, and in this price range so is top stitch and extra strength thread. Are there other options, settings or different feet for your Expression 2? I personally don't mind the manual buttonhole, as long as I get the hang of the steps and procedure on the machine. When it's been a while, I have to test sew a few buttonholes on my old Bernina, but it does the job.

Efemera

Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2017, 13:56:21 PM »
My Pfafff Expression 4 does nice buttonholes, the only thing it it starts to sew them from the bottom up! but far the easiest and nicest we're the ones my old Singer touch and sew did.

Morgan

Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 14:40:27 PM »
Advance warning - this reply may sound a bit (a lot?) preachy, teachy.   

Most machines with buttonhole functions (whether mechanical or computerised, 4 step or 1 step) can make decent and consistent buttonholes.  Even the most whizzy gizmo TOL computerised machine with umpteen buttonhole styles plus stabiliser plates etc.  will make rubbish buttonholes if the user doesn't stabilise, keep the foot level, adjust the settings, careful thread choice and test on like for like samples.

 - nice looking and consistent buttonholes made on a domestic machine are 85% down to the operator.

Don't rush to buy -
The SMD 3000 is a very good computerised all rounder machine.
It has 6 buttonhole styles and as with every machine that makes buttonholes, the quality of what you get is down to what you do.


stabilise the fabric and the foot -
- fabric ... stabilise as needed to ensure a sufficient substrate for the stitches to form evenly and to bite and hold onto during wear and tear.  Interfacing inside and machine embroidery stabiliser (whichever type is suitable for the job) on the top, bottom or both.
- foot ... do what works to keep the foot completely level so that the fabric is moved correctly by the feed dogs from the start to end of the stitching.  Steps and lumps from seam allowances or textured fabric (even small ones) can tip the foot slightly and as soon as that happens the fabric feeds unevenly.   It's not the machine, it's how you control and compensate for the different levels.  Also if the machine isn't a flat bed, lift and support the fabric around the machine with books etc. so there is no drag against the foot or feed dogs.


stitch spacing and width -
Expect to have to adjust both the distance between stitches and the width of the bars depending on the size of the needle and the thickness of the thread you are using along with what is appropriate for the proportion of the size of the buttonhole and the type of fabric.  If using sew all thread, it's common to have to adjust the settings for the buttonhole.


Thread -
For fine and lightweight fabrics use thinner thread than sew-all and a finer needle eg.  Machine embroidery thread, either Rayon 40s or Polyester and a size 70, 75 or 80 needle.  It's also worth using one or two of the thread to make a corded buttonhole, which is further help for wear and tear.


Test stitching -
Avoid falling into the trap of testing buttonholes on a flat sample.  If you are going to make buttonholes near seam allowances and edges then replicate the conditions on the test sample.   Stitching a buttonhole on a shirt placket and then stitching a buttonhole on a collar stand - the conditions are different so 2 different samples are needed so you know how to keep the foot level for the different conditions.


and know that button holes above a certain size and buttonholes on thick fabrics are better made using other methods.


 (I make lots of buttonholes, especially on shirts and blouses.  My favourite is to use machine embroidery thread with a fine needle and also to use a strand or two of the thread to cord them - it gives the stitching some loft and and helps them look nice.)Hope some of the above helps
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 14:43:11 PM by Morgan »

Gernella

Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2017, 16:01:35 PM »
.

Don't rush to buy -

All excellent advice,  in fact it deserves a space on its own on The Sewing Place.  Yes I was using like for like on my buttonholes, although I must admit I have never paid much attention to thread and needle size before, I just expect it to perform, which it normally it does.

Perhaps the ulterior motive was the excuse to get a new machine.  Mind you I came home this afternoon to an Error F08 on an 11 year old washer!   


Ellabella

Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2017, 16:02:43 PM »
Thanks Morgan, that explains why I could not get a decent buttonhole on DHs shirt collar stand.  The ones on the placket were fine but nothing worked on the collar stand.

What's the best way to level out such a large foot (Janome 8200), do I need some form of packing like a humper jumper?

When I did DHs shirt I sewed a button on the collar stand, but as he never fastens his top button on the shirts I make just omitted the buttonhole.  If anyone's near enough DH to notice the lack of buttonhole they sure ain't thinking about buttons :[
Desperately trying to alliterate in North Yorkshire

Morgan

Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2017, 23:30:48 PM »
. . . that explains why I could not get a decent buttonhole on DHs shirt collar stand.  The ones on the placket were fine but nothing worked on the collar stand.
What's the best way to level out such a large foot (Janome 8200), do I need some form of packing like a humper jumper?
in effect yes - try making a diy one with layers of the fabric or layers of stabiliser

it's often helpful to stitch sample buttonholes towards the edge and also away from the edge to find which direction works best especially for collar stands (and on collar points if making a button down collar).
 

If you need to support the fabric at the front of the machine whilst sewing buttonholes - consider moving the machine further away from the edge of the table

Some machines with wide feed dogs have a stabiliser plate and sometimes that helps .

Finally sometimes it helps to increase the presser foot pressure.


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Re: Buttonhole Panic - Which?
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2017, 23:40:40 PM »
Nice list of advice Morgan, we have to give the machines we have a full chance and look at the settings, options and workarounds. Buttonholes are a bit tricky sometimes, even on the top models. What makes it easy is the know how. We are so easily impressed by commercials and introductions, even a 8 year old machine can compare with the new models on the basic functions. These words from a guy who use a machine his grandparents would have bought new, they were out production when my mother bought her first. I have a couple of newer ones too though ;- )