I thought button-hole making would be a doddle – after all, how could such a tiny detail on a garment prove even remotely problematic to a girl who’s taking on the challenge of making entire suits? Truth be told, I felt an inexplicable confidence that making button holes would be MY THING. One of my many mistaken confidences, so it transpires…
Perhaps calling this blog ‘Crushed Beetles and Goose Irons’ was tempting fate – Crushed Beetle being the name given to a badly made button-hole. What a silly name, I thought! A silly, and inaccurate name! (I liked it very much nonetheless). But how on earth a button-hole could EVER look like a crushed beetle was quite beyond me. I thought back to the days when I used to spend considerable time scampering around on the floor – a time when I saw many a crushed beetle – I probably even did some of the crushing myself on occasion. In fact, I know I did. Try as I might, though I just couldn’t picture what the crushed beetles looked like (flailing legs? Spilling blood? Sloppy intestines? ). I certainly couldn’t picture them looking anything like a button-hole. And I suppose that’s the point, really. A badly made button-hole looks nothing like it should.
As you can see.
It’s such damnably difficult work! Especially when given the strict instructions that each stitch must be 2mm in length and must be separated from the next a distance the ‘breadth of a sheet of paper’ … the ‘breadth of a piece of paper’, I say!
When working in such small scale, every fraction of a millimetre too big or little shows. If your focus wavers for a second, all can be lost – and distraction abounds in the classroom, as you can imagine. Perhaps someone asks to borrow some thread and you take your eye off the cloth, perhaps you take a swig of tea, or you start ear-wigging on an exciting piece of gossip … whatever you might be tempted to do, don’t do it! Your sewing rhythm will be lost, your next stitch will be a giant (or a midget) and the button-hole will look a STATE.
And as if distraction wasn’t problem enough, too much concentration can be lethal, too. Like an artist at the easel, the button-hole maker has to keep stepping back and reviewing his work as a whole… it’s all too easy to increase the size of a stitch fraction by fraction as you make your button-hole – before you know it, that 2mm has turned to 3, has turned to 4 and the finished product looks frankly ridiculous.
98% of my button-holes look frankly ridiculous.
The only benefit about being really REALLY bad at doing something is that you can’t get any worse. And, with a bit of luck, you’ll actually get a fair bit better. With a bit more luck, you could even get quite good. And now, in a smug and very satisfied way, I will show you my latest button-hole…