some thoughts on sewing buttons

5 May

I just looked at my fingers and realised the tips have become punctured and pocked lunar surfaces. This is because I sew all the buttons for our bags and aprons by hand rather than use the button setting on my machine.

Lou thinks I’m completely coo-coo for not using a perfectly good button setting, and perhaps she’s right. It’s so quick and makes for such a secure, tightly bound button. But I fret over the way the thread always seems to bunch and knot at the back of the fabric when I do it. I’m sure it just takes practice (you only have to look at Lou’s to know a nice clean button is possible), but I’ve taken to carrying the bags I need to button on buses (alliteration, whee!) and sew them on in transit. And you can’t do that when you’re using a machine.

While I’ve sped up my sewing and can now whip them on in no time, I still yet to learn how not to prick and poke myself with the sharp end of a needle in the process (though in fairness, this might well be because I’m sewing them on in transit!). I’m sure my grandmother had a collection of thimbles. I should find out if there are any still floating around.

If I’m perfectly honest, in spite of my woes, I will also admit to rather loving a hand-sewn button. As silly as it sounds, I feel like it somehow makes me closer to the person who will eventually use the bag. There’s something infinitely satisfying about the feel of thread running through a button hole, the little tug at cotton and button to make that first stitch secure, then it’s 1-2-3-4-5-6 quick stitches over and under and through and voila! It’s snug and ready to slip through the button hole and sit smartly on the other side.


3 Responses to “some thoughts on sewing buttons”

  1. Joyce 5 May 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    I’m with you on this point. There’s just something so much more intimate about hand-sewing a button, I can never bring myself to use a machine to sew them on. Might change my mind when I need to sew a thousand of them on at once, but till then, it’s hand-sewing all the way!

  2. loutheperson 5 May 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I would love to have the time to sew on every button by hand as I agree with you both about the little finishing touches and the personal feel but unfortunatley there just arn’t enough hours in the day!

    I love it when I use a button that has to be sewn on by hand, especially because it just lengthens the time I can hold and love the bag before it makes its way into cyberspace and off to its new owner!

  3. jiva 5 May 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I prefer hand sown too. Plus a good sturdy steel thimble. I think Crazy Aunt Purl has the best way to do it too:

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