Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Making of a Cape: Chapter 2 -- Bound Buttonholes

Many delightful details were found in the Kate Spade cape I tried on. I was impressed by the bound buttonholes, a technique that I longed to master.

I tried Tasia St. Germaine's method found in The Sewtionary while working on a spring coat, yet to be finished. But I didn't want to revisit this method.

And goodness knows, there are many ways to do a bound buttonhole as an internet search will reveal. And there lies my problem, I haven't yet discovered a method that I'm comfortable with for this project.

I decided to try Claire B. Shaeffer's method next. In her book, Couture Sewing Techniques she points out that there are various methods for making bound buttonholes and I wonder if this is why I have yet to find detailed instructions in pattern sheets. Could it be that there is no consensus on a universal method to do bound buttonholes?  She offers the patch and strip methods in her book but I chose the  method that Claire Shaeffer shares here.  And the practice bound buttonhole turned out fine.  

This practice bound buttonhole had me giddy with excitement. Words can not express how giddy. I changed the thread on the sewing machine, basted and marked all the markings and set to work.  

Perhaps, the excitement of that practice bound buttonhole got in the way of my clear thinking and I sewed my stripes to the wrong side of my fabric! To be completely honest my ability to laugh at this error was based on the fact that I had some more fabric if I needed to cut another front. But Mama R had a suggestion when I told her what happened.

"Why don't you take them off and sew them to the right side?," she asked.

I explained that I had stitched them in place with 1.5 length stitches and with my red thread perfectly matching my fashion fabric I'll never get in there with a seam ripper.

"Not even with the new seam ripper?," she questions my illogical response.

What is wrong with me?, I thought to myself recalling how crazy awesome the Pro Seam ripper works. And that is how the bound button blooper was fixed. I carefully cut out the stitching, finished basting and thankfully have some beautiful bound buttonholes.Thanks Mama R!

The stripes are created by folding a length of scrap fabric, pressing and then stitching 1/4" away from the fold. The length is calculated at the width of your button plus an additional inch.  Then I stitched the strips in place matching where I basted the placement lines.

I clipped between the two stripes and then diagonally into the corners.

And then I turned the ends over and stitched the triangular end in place before trimming the excess from the ends.

I turned over my front to check out the button hole and steam pressed using the clapper. I finished by diagonally hand-stitching the opening closed and now I can proceed with the next steps.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, until then, happy sewing.  


  1. Nice work :) and great job fixing the problem.

    1. Thanks! That Pro Seam ripper has to be the best Christmas gift ever. Honestly, I don't think I could have managed that save without it.

  2. I LOVE capes. I LOVE red. I CANNOT WAIT to follow along on this journey. It's going to be an epic garment! I'm so excited for you.

    1. Thanks, I'm pretty excited too. I have a stack of books on the kitchen table trying to figure out the proper way to do the padding stitch. I'm learning a lot of new-to-me techniques. Next chapter coming out at midnight.


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