Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Singer Buttonholer

If you have a vintage, straight stitch Singer, chances are you have a buttonholer attachment.  If you don't, then I suggest you SPRINT on over to eBay and get you one....hurry!  Don't pay more than $10, and be sure you get the right one for your machine.  The oval aqua case (above) and green treasure chest type case (below) are for low shank machines like the Featherweight, 201, 15-91, etc.   The oval pink case (above) and the red treasure chest (below) are for your slant shank machine like the 503, 401, 301 etc.


The one below is much older, I think dates back to the 1930's or 1940's - for low shank.  It does not take cams, the size of the buttonhole is made by adjusting a screw.

So why do you want one of these if you have a machine with a built in buttonhole stitch?  This is why:
Perfect buttonholes!  And the keyhole!  How many domestic machines can do that? 

Then there is the ubiquitous "fun factor".  Well at least for me, I love using the big, clunky, mechanical attachments.  These Are So Cool!  They aren't electronic, there is no computer chip telling it what size to make the buttonhole.  It's just good old fashioned mechanical ingenuity that is FAIL PROOF.  Insert the template and get the exact same buttonhole every time - 10 years later, 30 years later, 50 years later....and so on.

So here we go, starting with the 221 Featherweight and the classic black buttonholer which I think looks best with this machine.  (This is my visiting 221 doing the stitching, Kathy is sitting this one out.)

                                  video
Now keep in mind that the feed dogs don't drop on the 221 (don't quote me on that, maybe there are some models that do, but mine doesn't) so a feed cover plate is used.  I hate screwing these onto the bed of my lovely little FW and honestly except for this demonstration, I never use a FW to make buttonholes. 

 And why should I when I have Queen Margaret around?  She and Betty have feed dogs that drop with the turn of a screw underneath but the feed cover plate could be used instead, it works the same either way.
And here she goes (sorry for the abrupt ending, since someone was calling me just it ended!)
                                        video

Just for the record, in the picture above the buttonhole on the RIGHT is made by the 221, the one on the LEFT is made by the 201 and yes - it is just a little better.  Exact same buttonholer, same thread, same fabric.  But honestly the 201-2 is just the Rocking-est machine ever.  Betty, who also sat out on this demo, produces the same results, BTW.  These are my go-to buttonhole machines.  

But yes, Bud (a slant shank Singer) can do it too although he would rarely be my first choice because of stitch quality.  Here he is in action: 
                                      


So this concludes today's Fun With Buttonholers.  I have all the templates for any size buttonhole I've ever wanted to make.  I even have the eyelet template, but only a black plastic reproduction since the original is quite expensive and hard to find (it's on my "Look Out" list!)






4 comments:

  1. I had an old Singer 501 and I had a country store. I used to sit in the back and sew my daughter's clothes as well as crafts for the store.
    My friends all had zig-zag machines, I felt deprived until I found the zig-zag attachment in the case and went to town.
    But oh, those button holes, I loved making buttonholes with that machine. I especially loved the keyhole.
    Visit my site www.sewinginsider.com and read a story about when my father brought the machine home to my mother, who never used it!

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  2. Thanks, Susan, I checked out your site. Love it! I'll be back... :)

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  3. I have a 501A and the red box above with 8 templates. Do I need to make any changes to the machine setting (i.e., AK3) to make this work?

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  4. The machine's stitch length setting doesn't matter because you disengage the feed dogs to use this attachment. The stitch width is adjusted on the attachment itself. Your machine must be set to STRAIGHT stitch for this to work. Any adustments in presser foot pressure or tension are a "try and see" kind of thing. You might not need to change it at all, or you might need to increase your upper tension a bit.

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