The Sewing Place

Are button holes better on all old machines?

Ellabella

Are button holes better on all old machines?
« on: February 01, 2018, 19:46:47 PM »
I've been reading various threads which mention the superior buttonhole sewing capabilities of older machines.

I have a Singer 498 which, at a guess, dates from the late 60s.

I know it has settings for sewing buttonholes but have not used them for years.

Is it worth me getting this out and having it serviced in the hope it will produce a decent buttonhole?

My lovely Janome does really nice buttonholes on shirt fronts but has a bit of a hissy fit on things like coller stands
Desperately trying to alliterate in North Yorkshire

arrow

Re: Are button holes better on all old machines?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2018, 20:24:45 PM »
No, they are not better on all old machines. Singer buttonholer attachments could be bought all of the 1970s, some of the later ones had plastic cams with capability for larger buttonholes. I have two older buttonholers they do a good job on things like tweed, jeans denim and wooly coat fabric. I can't get the decorative buttonholes some speciality machines does, keyhole shape, using thicker thread, perfectly neat zigzag etc.  These attachments should work with your old 498.

With my Bernina 730 I can always manage a buttonhole with out too much fuzz, it has a four step buttonholer function. It has a lot to do with correct needle and thread match for the fabric and getting to know the buttonholer. I guess it's the same for you 498.

It can be worth getting your 498 out. To begin with I would spend some time cleaning and oiling it, having it out on a table and go though the maintanance steps a few times. After a bit of test sewing it should be running again. A service is not a bad idea at all, but neiter is some DIY care.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 20:43:36 PM by arrow »

Roger

Re: Are button holes better on all old machines?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2018, 20:31:03 PM »
Hi Ellabella,
It’s a tricky call...
we often talk about vintage buttonholers for their quality buttonholes and ease of use.

There are 2 factors in this.
1) older vintage machines (pre 1940 were straight stitch only and produced excellent stitches- the singers 66, 15, 99 and famously the 201 (but were still sold into the 60s I think). The quality of the stitching and the ability of the machines to penetrate effectively most house hold fabrics was important. Fabrics were heavier due to there being less heating, so they coped a lot better than modern machines with something gnarly, and don’t fuss much.

2) because they produced only a straight stitch the button holing attachment was invented... these move the fabric to allow a straight stitch to zigzag. There are generally 2 formats 1) with a length and bight settings and 2) which is cam driven, you adjust the bight and insert a cam and it makes a buttonhole in the style of the cam. (My favourite because I love keyhole buttonholes.)

The buttonhole attachments produce easy reliable buttonholes that once they’re set/have their cam just require aligning and sewing, and it’s job done.

However part of this is the exceptional stitch quality/penetration of a straight stitch only machine this means that whatever you are sewing, gauze silk, tweed, canvas, (possibly a tin can in the case of the 15k) the number of stitches skipped and amount of fuss over multiple layers of fabrics will be less. So the buttonholes are more reliably successful.

Having said that a manual buttonhole on my 500a/401g is still a nice buttonhole it just requires 4 stages and a close eye on the instruction manual... so I bought a pink atomic cam driven buttonholer for it (definitely nothing to do with the mad styling). When these were available zigzagging was well established in sewing machines and they’re designed for 401s/500s/600s but the simplicity still made them popular devices despite being technically redundant at this stage.

Having said that if a buttonhole attachment will fit on your modern machine I still reckon it’ll produce an easier more reliable buttonhole. But I haven’t tested it, because I love mechanical machines and don’t really go later than the 60s...
I work with computers and clouds all day and don’t want to do hobby work with them too.

Does that help?

A bit of a vintage sewing machine nut! Singers: 500a, 401g, 48k Elnas: lotus SP & grasshopper, Bernina 530-2 F+R 504, Pfaff 30, Cresta T-132

Roger

Re: Are button holes better on all old machines?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2018, 20:36:25 PM »
Btw your 498 looks awesome! As Arrow says it’ll probably need some love, but looks like a straight shank and should be mostly metal so should do a nice stitch too!
A bit of a vintage sewing machine nut! Singers: 500a, 401g, 48k Elnas: lotus SP & grasshopper, Bernina 530-2 F+R 504, Pfaff 30, Cresta T-132

Ellabella

Re: Are button holes better on all old machines?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2018, 20:48:39 PM »
Thanks Roger and Arrow, I think it helps.

I just need the time and application to get it out and play.  I had it serviced not long before I got a newer machine so it should not be too bad. 

It's in a cabinet so I need to find a home for all the things on top of it, then I 'll haul it out and play.

I used it for years and it was always a good workhorse, I just got seduced by flashier things.

I must also find the box of attachments and see what is in there.
Desperately trying to alliterate in North Yorkshire