Putting the buttons on a shirt has got to be my favourite part of making a shirt.
At first, I avoided it. This is common, when I say it to people they often agree with me – buttonholes are a drag.
It feels like so much could go wrong. I could put the button in the wrong spot, the button and the buttonhole might not line up…and then the actual button hole – who has a machine that can pull that off? And by hand, you have to be kidding? What if it all goes wrong? Can you even unpick all that tight stitching?
I spent about a month avoiding doing the buttons on the first shirt I have made.
Then I thought – stuff it, I’m just going to mess them up and be done with it.
I decided to do them by hand. Which was courageous. The first five trials I did were genuinely bad, not what I would even call button holes.
Then, something happened.
I worked out that I needed a bit of interfacing on the back of the button hole to give the stitching something to hold on to, I realised that the stitches do have to gather up a bit and become a bit tight and I just got better at it.
By the time I’d finished the buttonholes on that first shirt I was very happy with them. They really did look like buttonholes!
One of my other favourite things is taking the buttons from a retired shirt and transferring them over to a new shirt. Cutting the buttons off one, no longer used, shirt and putting them on a hand-made, about to be worn with love, shirt just feels incredibly right.
The moment that first button gets sewn on…it’s magic. It’s like a pile of messy fabric finally transforms into a wearable garment.
I have so much to learn from doing things that I think I might fail at. Even if I fail along the way, there is a satisfaction in persevering.
So now, now I love putting the buttons on. It’s my favourite bit.
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