I have, literally, been dreaming about this machine for a couple weeks:
Our partner project, SEAWALL, is making small batches of men’s shirts (women’s coming soon!) – all of fine japanese fabrics and with lots of buttons. and buttonholes.
It’s seemingly impossible to imitate the look of a professional buttonhole using home sewing equipment. And it’s certainly not efficient. Making each buttonhole using a good home machine takes, well, a while. I haven’t timed it. But when you include cutting, possibly a minute each. Additionally, home machines don’t have great presser foot pressing strength (what’s that called?) and so the fabric often doesn’t feed correctly if it’s too light, or too heavy, or on a corner or any number of other issues….
So, I’ve been designing around and avoiding buttonholes for years. If we lived in a city that had a garment district, there would be a buttonholing service (you know, pay by the buttonhole) – but there isn’t here.
Designing around buttonholes has led to some lovely innovations, if I do say so myself. My favorite way to do buttonholes on jackets is the silk-faced false welt.
but it’s also led me to avoid shirting almost completely….until now. Faced with the reality that we need to flexibly produce professional level samples and mini-runs of shirting, apart from what the sewing contractor does, I became obsessed with obtaining the means to make buttonholes.
It’s a classic, mechanical machine: the juki lbh 783. I like mechanical machines, because I believe they will continue to work in 20 or 30 years. Additionally, they hold their value well.
Finally, after seeing it in action last night- it will be delivered later this week- I’m in love. It sounds like a smooth cat purr and makes gorgeous buttonholes in a second or two.