Tag Archives: closures

So Sew Buttons

I love buttons.  I always have.  When I was little, my mom had this big tin filled with all the buttons she had collected over the years.  One of my favorite things to do was to take the Button Box from the drawer of her sewing desk and spill them out on the kitchen table.  I’d sort them by color, or texture, or size.  I’d make pictures with them, and arrange them in patterns.  I liked everything about them, even the feeling of the little buttons running through my fingers and the sound of them plinging back into their tin.

Not much has changed, to be honest.  I have my own button collection now, but it’s in a little zippered felt bag, not a tin.  And I don’t have nearly as many buttons as my mom did.

But over Christmas, I added a few more to my collection.  They are really special buttons that I’m super excited about.  My family took a little expedition to North Chicago to visit a button shop that we had heard about over a year ago.  And, I have to say, it was totally worth the wait.

The shop is called Soutache, and it sells thousands (and thousands) of buttons, miles of ribbons, and piles of rhinestones and feather trim.  I could spend an entire paycheck there if I wasn’t careful.

soutache-headerThey had buttons made from bone, from stone, from wood, from brass.  They had bright pink buttons, and inky black buttons.  Square buttons, spheres, and buttons shaped like shoes.  They had new buttons and vintage ones.  And they were all gorgeous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI came home with these little guys.  They’re vintage half-inch brass buttons.  They almost glow in the light, and have a surprising amount of heft.  I can’t wait to put them on the slightly cropped cardigan that has been bouncing around in my brain for a while (of course, I’ll have to knit it first).   They’re pretty much perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd these buttons are so cool!  They look like hand-formed aluminum, or maybe tarnished silver.  But, they’re actually made of plastic, which sounds lame, but is actually kind of perfect for a sweater.  These buttons are so light, they won’t make the front of a cardigan droop from their weight, even though they are large and impressive.  Cool, right?

In conclusion, if you’re ever in Chicago, make a point of going to Soutache.  And bring your check book.

Do you have any special buttons in your collection?

Stellar’s Jay Cardigan: Closing Time

Originally, I had planned to add a typical button band to my cardigan.  But, of course, I changed my mind (because I like to make things difficult for myself).  Once the sweater was nearing completion, it occurred to me that a vertical button band would totally break up the beautiful, simple horizontal lines of the sweater.  So what’s a girl to do?  What could I use to close up my sweater invisibly?

My first thought was to use hooks and eyes.  I bought a couple packs of great big hooks and eyes (sized to be used on a coat), and attached them to the front edge of my sweater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI sewed 20 stupid little hooks in place, and then I tried it on.  And then, I just about cried.  It looked terrible!  It was all weird and pucker-y.  It pulled at every single hook when I wore it.  (Of course some of the terrible-ness came from me sewing the hooks on incorrectly-too far from the edge, but a part of it was just the nature of the hooks.  Hook-and-eye fastenings work best with stiffer fabrics, not soft, stretchy wool sweaters.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI immediately cut off the hooks and eyes.  I’ve still got them, so maybe I’ll use them for another project down the line, but definitely not another sweater.

Instead, I bought myself a nice long separating zipper and sewed it carefully by hand along the front plackets. Because the zipper has absolutely no stretch to it, I made sure to sew it in very carefully.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I closed up my sweater this time, I was overjoyed with how it turned out. The edges match up perfectly!  There’s no unsightly gap or puckering, and I even managed to make sure the zipper didn’t buckle or pull at the front of the sweater.  Victory!