Opening Up Rear Bound Buttonholes aka Having A Nervous Breakdown

One of the very last stages of the coat is opening up the rear of the bound button holes on the coat facing. Everything else is done. The lining’s inserted. The hem is hand sewn. The shoulder stays have stayed and the collar is collaring. All you have left to do is make some almighty error, and months of work will be down the pan.

No pressure, then.

Oh, and did I mention? Opening up the rear of the button holes involves cutting into your facing. With scissors. That might slip.

Yeah, go and pour yourself a drink. I would.

I’d checked out Gertie’s tutorial and thought things looked relatively straightforward. I was soooo tempted to cut to the chase and start work immediately on the coat. Thank goodness I didn’t. Thank heavens I forced myself to have a practice go, because this is how it turned out:

If Aunt Sally made Worzel Gummidge a bound button hole, this is what it would look like. No way did I want this on the inside of my coat! I love Gertie, but it was clear her tutorial wasn’t going to cut the mustard – at least not with this wool.

I turned to page 308 of the Reader’s Digest New Guide to Sewing and used their windowpane method instead. It involved basting patches of lining fabric to the rear buttonhole, then machine stitching and opening up:

You then take out the basting and pull the lining through to the rear:

Press and hand stitch down, until you have this finished rear bound button hole:

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a helluva lot better than my first attempt. It would do. Now, all I faced was applying this technique to four button holes on the actual coat. Here are some shots of the work in progress:

I want you to take a moment to imagine wrangling an entire coat onto a sewing machine so that you can sew those ickle patches of lining fabric to the facing only. Feeling sick, yet? Face drained of blood? Yeah, I had those emotions, too!

This is all a long-winded way of saying that if you are going to use this technique, I strongly recommend referring to The Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing. It might just save your sanity.

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17 Responses to Opening Up Rear Bound Buttonholes aka Having A Nervous Breakdown

  1. Kathi Giumentaro says:

    They look great. I totally get it. I have felt that light headed feeling when you need to cut fabric and your not 100% sure what’s going to happen. That was very smart of you to do test out the method first. I probably would have left them uncut and never been able to button my coat. I am happy this has worked out for you.

  2. I just know that this sense of fear you portray will stay with me now. Gulp. I’m not into scary films or books. Or sewing. Well done you for conquering it- they really look so smart, neat and professional.

  3. Suzy says:

    I can only imagine. I have a jacket unfinished (old story, will finish it for next spring) and have done the bound buttonholes but have not opened at the back. Will for sure reference back to you then.

  4. Scary stuff. I will be noting this for future reference!

  5. gingermakes says:

    Yowzers!! Good luck to you!

  6. rachel sew-n-sew says:

    amazing, though I developed a moist brow just reading that post!
    i’d second the recommendation for the Reader’s Digest book, too – it’s brilliant.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    You are made of stronger stuff than me my friend. Well done!

  8. Cherie says:

    Karen, I loved your writing about this wonderful coat. Good writing, good coat! I’ve done it, and one feels triumphant when it is done! You look wonderful.

    Cherie (in Phoenix, AZ, where, alas, I don’t need such wonderful outerwear)

  9. Roobeedoo says:

    Awe.
    Still not sure what I am looking at on the inside – they look so large! How did you judge the size for length and depth of the buttons?

    • Yeah, I did a really bad job of explaining this process! There are ‘lips’ on these buttonholes that make them smaller. I judged length and depth by making a test button hole first. On the actual make you put pins through from the front buttonhole so that you can see the corners of the little window you’re going to make.

  10. liza jane says:

    They look so nice and neat. And straight. The bound buttonholes I made on my lady grey (only two thank goodness) are super crooked on the inside. I made a nice little windowpane but it doesn’t actually match up with the buttonhole perfectly. You’re a trooper.

  11. Blimey, stiff drink needed indeed! Well donefor meeting the challenge and overcoming it though! 🙂

  12. ms. modiste says:

    Brave lady! Bound buttonholes terrify me. I’m thinking I should just start practicing making them on scraps of fabric for “fun” so that when the time comes to actually put them on a garment I won’t be so intimidated?

  13. flyingchange says:

    I bought a 1976 edition of that RD book and I am *so* glad I did….. it invariably is the most helpful of all the sewing books I own!

  14. Sensible Sewer says:

    Claire Shaeffer once said to practice on scraps of the garment fabric until one could do it 10 times perfectly.

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