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Shirt buttonholes: attachments or dedicated machine


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#1 Hedges

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 06:19 PM

Hello,

I'm curious, what is the preferred method for creating quality buttonholes?

I've been using an attachment foot on a SS industrial machine and the results are barely satisfactory.

Should I invest in a home sewing machine capable of zig-zag, or a dedicated buttonhole machine?

There is a used Reece S2 industrial buttonholer for sale near me, something to consider, has anyone here used one?

Thanks

Edited by Hedges, 19 November 2010 - 06:20 PM.


#2 Sator

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 11:47 AM

A full-time professional shirtmaker would tell you to get a proper dedicated industrial buttonholer.

Sorry, don't know about that particular machine but if there is a decent vintage one on offer, especially those beautiful old ones made of solid iron, then I would grab it.

#3 jcsprowls

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 01:08 PM

There's simply no substitute for a proper buttonhole machine. Singer 71 are the antique models most people chase after - myself, included. The downside is the parts are no longer available, so maintenance can be extremely expensive. Used lockstitch buttonhole machines can be had for between $700-1200. If you're doing low volume work, a new Chinese make can be had for the high end price of a used machine.
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#4 Hedges

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:07 PM

There are actually TWO Reece S2 buttonholers for sale on my local craigslist. I went to view one which the seller claimed was in working order, but when demonstrating the machine kept breaking the thread..

Could have simply been a problem with threading, who knows. But the problem as you say is maintenance, They're only asking $300 for the machine but most repair shops in my area won't deal with such an old machine.

#5 greger

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:21 PM

If a part breaks and there are no replacements the part would have to be made by a machine shop.

#6 jcsprowls

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 01:51 AM

Reece is a chainstitch machine - it's not suitable for high-end garments.
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#7 Hedges

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 06:40 AM

Reece is a chainstitch machine - it's not suitable for high-end garments.


Ah, Thank you.
So the buttonholes that are slightly raised (almost like they've been sewn with gimp) are produced by lockstitch machines?

#8 tailleuse

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:23 AM

For whatever it's worth, the ancient buttonhole machine I used in an FIT class was some kind of Reese. The buttonholes were OK, not great, but I'm no expert. Granted, people didn't use it all that often, but sometimes students would have to ask other students for help setting it up. To change the size I think you had to take a small wrench chained to the machine to readjust something. It's easier to use than the Merrow machine, however.

The noise it makes is terrifying. The teacher said that one benefit of this machine -- it sews the buttonhole and then you slice it open -- is that you can pull the thread out and redo it if you make a mistake. With a coat buttonhole machine the cloth is cut and if you screw up you ruin the coat, he said.

I myself wouldn't dare buy something old like that because I have no knack for mechanical things.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#9 greger

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:17 PM

Nothing like hand made button holes. It takes time to learn, but they are nice. Needle and thimble are easy to store, but where are you going to put a big machine when you are not using it?
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#10 P.T.

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:08 PM

I've been using a home machine to sew buttonholes. There's a bit of discussion about this subject at AAAC: http://www.askandyab...wn-OCBD-at-home

With a little tweaking I was able to get passable buttonholes:

Posted Image

It's not going to be as strong as a real buttonholer because there's no purl stitch. The home machine's feeding is also awful and it pulls the shirt in to sew the hole, so it's hard to keep it straight. It sometimes gets jammed on buttondown collars (then you've got to pull all the buttonhole stitches and start over...) But once it's done, the buttonholes seem to hold up okay. It works much better than the industrial single-needle attachment buttonholer I tried (which was very weak since it didn't tack the ends).

The machine I used is a Kenmore (Janome) 386.18221. Single-step buttonholer; not expensive: ~$150.

Someone in the AAAC thread also suggested sewing the holes lightly by machine then going over them by hand. Might be a good solution for the cuffs and collars if you're worried about durability. FWIW I've never had one of the Kenmore machine's buttonholes fail (though I did accidentially cut some of the satin stitches in my early efforts).

Edited by P.T., 22 November 2010 - 02:09 PM.

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#11 tailleuse

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:52 PM

Nothing like hand made button holes. It takes time to learn, but they are nice. Needle and thimble are easy to store, but where are you going to put a big machine when you are not using it?


Maybe it's different for this kind of shirt, but in a basic sewing class in which I had to make a shirt I asked about hand made buttonholes. I was told they'd look funny on a RTW piece.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#12 Hedges

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:51 PM

Nothing like hand made button holes. It takes time to learn, but they are nice. Needle and thimble are easy to store, but where are you going to put a big machine when you are not using it?


Hand sewn buttonholes are quite lovely! I've been meaning give them a try..
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#13 jcsprowls

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:31 PM

There are lockstitch machines that can carry gimp. I've never seen a production shirt with gimp in the buttonholes, though. What we typically do is this:
- for sportswear, sew with a Tex 30 thread, one pass
- for fine shirts, sew with a Tex 20 thread, two passes

In other words, for sportswear, use a larger thread because you're making a looser stitch with a larger needle and only can afford to expend one process.

But, for fine shirts, use the same stitch length, a smaller needle and a finer thread and then double process every buttonhole. The second process neatens the loose threads leftover from the knife slitting open the hole; and, the edge of the buttonhole is raised.

For what it's worth: almost all modern lockstitch buttonhole machines can perform either a purl-edge or whipstitch buttonhole finish. You simply pass the thread through a different hole in the bobbin case.
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#14 Hedges

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:58 PM

Greger,
I've been thinking about hand sewn buttonholes on shirts and I've sewn up a couple test runs.

I was wondering if the techniques discussed in the "art of making buttonholes" thread are relevant to shirts. Do you machine baste the outside edge of the marked buttonhole area?

Edited by Hedges, 02 December 2010 - 02:59 PM.


#15 P.T.

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:23 AM

It was suggested on AAAC that you go over it lightly once by machine, then follow up by hand. Presumably you'd cut the buttonhole open after the machine sews it. Here is the post:

http://www.askandyab...669#post1161669

Edited by P.T., 03 December 2010 - 09:23 AM.


#16 greger

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 04:03 PM

Machine sewing button holes first is fine. But there will probably come a time when you don't want that thickness. One method of learning button holes is fold some shirting in half a couple of times and then do the button hole stitch all around it. Get the stitches even on top and bottom and the purls to line up nice on one level in a perfect row (when done and it's not that perfect- don't worry about it). After the edge is finished cut some holes in the center area and try some real ones. Do about six or eight per cloth. JefferyD has a good thread on his blog. Mafoofans shirts have some nice button holes (the bar tacks don't have to be that tight, unless you like them that way).

#17 Hedges

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 05:16 PM

What I'm asking about is the sewing a straight stitched box around the planned buttonhole, then cutting it out and sewing the actual buttonhole stitch by hand. As it talks about in the beginning of this thread

I guess it's supposed to help stay the cut area and also act as a guideline for your hand stitches.

#18 greger

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 06:00 PM

That would be fine. It would sorta be like gimp. Just a slight lift just before the purls. How would you finish the ends of the machined parts? And, would it look better with two rows?




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