the good, the bad and the ugly

There’s an art to a hand worked buttonhole and it’s something I’ve far from mastered. Like every discipline, it has it’s own language and tools – all of which I neglected at my peril. Gimp, wax and a bit of twist – who needs them?

I first saw Kelly a few months back on a Sunday afternoon indie pattern trawl. Whilst I loved the shape, with it’s high waist and glorious pleats, I was unconvinced with the centre front buttonholing and treated myself to a Brumby instead. The lastest issue of Love Sewing – with the opportunity to try out a Megan Nielson pattern for free – gave me cause to re-consider. And not for the first time, I’ve eaten my words and done a complete 360. Without a hint of hyperbole, I ADORE THIS PATTERN. It’s an absolute dream to construct and I followed the clear instructions to the letter without a hitch. That is until I came to the pattern’s swansong – buttonholes – where I swiftly began to unravel.

I’d engaged in some scant sampling before launching into the seven buttonholes smack bang down the centre front but I have to concede I was ill-prepared. Whilst my placement is not too shabby, the zig zags produced from each poorly executed four step must have been too close. Every slash was accompanied by stitch casualties and my buttonholes fell apart in less time than they took to construct. Unpicking my unhandiwork revealed fraying edges galore and whilst Google provided me with a remedy, the damage was already done. I hastily set to work with some heavy duty thread but was unable to salvage the carnage of my butchery – the results are nothing short of Frankensteinian.

The Bad and the Ugly refer to my buttonhole debacle but what about the Good? Whilst my mind is quick to discount the positives – with it’s predilection to meditate upon fault – there’s is much to laud. I picked up the denim at Sheffield’s Direct Fabric Warehouse for a tenner and it’s a joy to work with – beautifully soft and virtually crease free. The vintage buttons were another e-bay steal and a perfect accompaniment in both hue and form. But most importantly, this pattern’s arrival coincided with an event in my calendar worthy of note – Maude’s debut.

I discovered Maude over a year ago, just before I embarked on an evening course in Fashion and Dressmaking. As soon as I clapped eyes on her, I knew she was destined for a wider platform. Whilst the appeal of a dismembered vintage doll may be niche, in my head the fringes are full of wrong doll afficianados. I knew immediately I wanted to transfer her image onto fabric but hadn’t a clue how. A few months later I happened upon Spoonflower and mentally edged a step closer to realising my dream. Fast forward another six months and some underwhelming experiments with applique before I discovered a world of double sided fusibles, courtesy of The Cotton Patch.

So, quite by chance I’ve discovered my dream pattern, accompanied by my sewing nemesis. After the inevitable meltdown which followed desecrating my finest craftwomanship to date, I’ve formulated a plan. I’m scheduling a lock in until I’ve fathomed a foolproof way of producing a four step buttonhole from my steed. But for my second Kelly, I’m taking no chances – I’m determined to master the skill so beautifully depicted in this excellent post.

Hey everyone, did you see the free Kelly skirt pattern available in Love Sewing Mag recently? Aimee made this gorgeously…

Posted by Megan Nielsen Patterns on Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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10 thoughts on “the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. its gorgeous, well done on seeing thru the buttonholes….. i have come across a printer paper that will heat fuse the image to a synthetic fabric recently but have yet to try it out….. how did you print maude? skirt shape is perfect

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    1. The buttonholes were nearly my undoing Eimear! I’ve heard about printing images onto fabric but didn’t have a home printer and wondered how that worked with large pattern pieces. I just stuck the maude I’d had printed onto fabric by spoonflower onto one side of ‘Steam to Seam’. I then cut around her face before pulling off the backing paper and positioning her on the skirt. Then I pressed on top of her with a hot iron for 10 seconds or so. It’s supposed to be wash proof but I’ll have to see how it goes. Thanks for the feedback… Am trying to move on from the buttonholes… You can’t see them but I know! X

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  2. How lovely, Maude has finally reared her head and will be the topic of conversation wherever she goes. I do hope she survives when she takes a dip. Will she be joining a wash load or will she have special treatment? As usual you have co-ordinated the colours well and I like the length. A lovely balanced outfit and the boots would show anything off. Soldier on with the buttonholes and hope as they say practise makes perfect. XXX

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    1. It says it’s machine washable but I may go for a tentative hand-wash first and see how she goes. I was so traumatised by the buttonhole debacle but it’s been a big learning opportunity… Mistakes are always our greatest teacher. It’s still very wearable but I know what treachery lies beneath. Maude on fabric is something to celebrate though and so I shall xxx

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  3. Treachery is rather harsh, When famous bakers openly use and suggest frozen puff pastry in their recipes, I think you can allow yourself a little artful guile on occasions when circumstances conspire against you. The back view of your skirt shows how beautifully the pleats sit below the waistband.

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    1. If I allow myself to reveal them to you, you’ll fully appreciate what I mean. But yes, really pleased with the pleats so glad you noticed them. Looking forward to talking stitch and otherwise on Saturday xxx

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  4. No more twist! Look after yourself on buttonhole lock down. What a detailed step by step that is you’ve found! And far beyond my meagre skills I’d wager.
    Maude is absolutely wonderful. She’ll be a guardian of the beautiful whole: mistakes and lessons too along with those spectacular pleats.

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    1. Thank you so much… I’m still meditating on the mistakes so your comment has made my day ‘guardian of the beautiful whole’… What a glorious turn of phrase. Maude’s appeal is niche so I always rejoice when she finds her people x

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