Bound Buttonholes and Padstitching, Gromit!

Well, I hope you had a nice week! I’m back with another coat update. Last week I wrote about padstitching the undercollar. This post highlights the progress I’ve made over the past week, which was all about the front pieces/lapels. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Last Friday a snowstorm hit the northeast. This gave me the perfect opportunity to settle in and practice creating bound buttonholes, which I haven’t done in 3 years (and that was just to create a sample in a class). It was surprisingly fun! I must say, I was worried about this step after seeing Gertie’s tutorial just because there were so many steps. I ended up following the method used in Tailoring instead; I found it much easier to follow and I highly recommend it.

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Here is one of them! I put the button there to help guide you to the buttonhole just above it since it’s hard to see in this fabric. You can just see the bias placement of the “lips” (with the basting stitches in it kind of reminds me of Billy the zombie from the movie Hocus Pocus – haha random). I had white basting stitches in to mark the center and width of the buttonhole openings, but obviously I removed them before taking this shot.

I’m excited about the anchor buttons. I ordered them off Etsy (there are tons of these out there) after seeing them on my grandfather’s World War II U.S. Navy pea coat, which was my initial inspiration for this project. Not only that, but when I look at these buttons they will also remind me of my truly wonderful grandpa, and that sure is something! I’d like to get around to showing you his coat one day. Apparently I’ve been promising this for 2 years. Whoops.

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Here is the wrong side of the bound buttonhole. And, yes, it bugs me that the fusible interfacing isn’t centered, but this was a practice one (I used black thread on the final) so at least I had a chance to get it right on the real deal. 🙂 My favorite was when my friend said, “That looks weird.” You know? It kinda does.

Oh, one thing I’ll add is that the book recommends drawing those parallel lines 1/8″ from the center line, but when I tried that it seemed that going to 1/4″ was better for the coat thickness. This is what you see here. It also helped when it came time to stitching down the triangles on the shorter ends of the buttonhole rectangle (which are sandwiched between the interfacing and the buttonhole fabric in this photo).

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This is what the buttonholes look like after the hair canvas was basted to the coat fabric. After cutting a rectangle into the hair canvas (oh soooo carefully!!), I pulled the buttonhole fabric through. Then I attached the hair canvas to the coat fabric with permanent uneven basting stitches and catchstitches; the buttonholes were catchstitched to the hair canvas. There are 4 in total, though you can only see 3 here obviously. I pressed these babies down with the help of the clapper (which is just fun to say).

I never know how detailed to get on this blog since sometimes I feel like it’s information overload, but I figure if you’re still reading at this point you’re interested in more so here we go. 🙂 Tailoring suggests trimming the hair canvas 3/4″ so it’s not caught in the 5/8″ seam allowance and adds bulk. That’s what I did here. Stay tape was attached with uneven basting stitches along – what will be – the outer edge of the coat.

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I then took on the lapels, complete with padstitching and stay tape. (The chevrons remind me of a similar detail found in Art Deco architecture! This coat is Jazz Age ready.) Stay tape was also placed 1/8″ away from the roll line, which you can’t see here. After placing a damp washcloth folded 1/2″ thick, I steamed the heck out of that sucker and let it dry overnight. It’s so amazing how all of this “trains” the fabric to just flop over in place! Gertie has a video of this on her blog.

The only part of the hair canvas that isn’t trimmed to 3/4″ is the part that will form the armscye. Tailoring mentions that this will help support the set-in sleeve when it’s inserted later on down the line.


By the way, I should mention I added a shoulder reinforcement before the hair canvas was basted to the coat fabric, as is suggested in Tailoring. The book has good instructions on how to draft this yourself. It’s cut on the bias and machine-stitched to the hair canvas below, and it’s meant to provide a smooth line from the shoulder to the bustline.

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And that’s pretty much it! This last photo shows my results over the past week. Special thanks to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit, Something’s Gotta Give, Coming to America, The Muppet Movie and multiple episodes of 30 Rock and Mad Men for providing the entertainment along the way. 🙂

Next Up:
Creating the back stay and, gasp, sewing the front to the back of the coat. It’s starting to come together, piece by piece! And what’s that you say? A three-day weekend ahead? I like the sound of that.


11 thoughts on “Bound Buttonholes and Padstitching, Gromit!

  1. Wow. Lots of steps! I’ve only ever used the buttonhole attachment foot on my sewing machine to make button holes. But, I am going to make a coat for next winter, so will have to do the buttonholes this way, as I’m sure it is stronger as well as looks better.

    • If you wanted, you could use the regular buttonhole stitch with your attachment foot. I have coats with this finish! I just wanted the challenge of the bound buttonholes. 🙂

    • Ah, my fault for not mentioning the pattern I’m using in the post! It’s actually McCall’s 5717, but I’ve modified it by removing the ruffle and lengthening the coat overall to below the knee (with fullness added at the hem to give me some wiggle room). Gertie’s pattern is super glamorous – I’d love to see your version!

  2. Wow – this process is so intimidating to me. I like those buttons and that it has a sentimental attachment. I didn’t know what hair canvas looked like either. Is that only for heavier fabrics? Can’t wait to see the finished coat.

    • I think it looks more intimidating than it actually is once you break it apart step by step. I’m looking at it now and thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot!” But as I was going through it the process didn’t seem so bad. I also read a bunch of books and online tutorials before giving it a go, and I think that helped.

      Hair canvas is a stiff sew-in interfacing so I think it works best on medium- and heavy-weight coating fabrics. I bought the good stuff from Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch, though I don’t think she sells it anymore? It’s made from wool and goat hair.

  3. This looks great so far! I have to say I thought I would hate hand-stitching, but I find it oddly calming. I haven’t attempted a coat, but it is on my must-eventually-sew list. Can’t wait to see the next few steps come together!

      • You know it is sadly sitting in a pile under my sewing desk as a UFO?!? I never put that darn button on the front, so I never wear it….maybe it is time to pull it out again 🙂 Can’t wait to see the coat!!!

        • Oh no, that’s a travesty! It is interesting though how some of our prettiest creations don’t get worn – I have a few in the UFO pile myself. I hope you get to sewing on the button. 🙂

  4. Pingback: M5717 “Sabrina” Coat: Live from Lincoln Center! | Sewin' in the Rain

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