I had been looking forward to some serious sewing this last weekend. So, on Friday night as I skipped in through the door from work I pondered out loud the choices ahead … there was a stack of fabric as tall as me awaiting a decision in the sewing room. “Hmmm, I’m just deciding what to do next …” I told my bloke as I chopped up carrots for dinner. Then he did THAT face … you know the one, the I’m slightly disappointed but not going to show it face, before he said quietly, “Well, there’s always – well, I mean, you could just finish my shirt?”
Ah, yes, the matter of the unfinished shirt that had been languishing sans buttonholes for a good two weeks now. You know, he had a good point. Such is my horror at having to do twelve buttonholes (12!!! Seriously, who needs that many buttonholes in one garment?! Sadly there was one in the collar, seven down the front, two cuffs and then the bloody tabs that enable you to roll up your sleeves and fasten them in place.) that I had completely abandoned the shirt in order to do stuff that was just, well, to be honest, just more FUN! Sometimes though, you just have to do what’s gotta be done. And anyway, this was the fabric from the warehouse sale that just begged to be bought, perfect for a semi-retired architect and eccentric enough to suit his tastes … it deserved to be finished.
I had a large glass of wine (this may or may not have helped in the end, I think I need to do further controlled experiments to see whether a glass of wine takes the edge off buttonhole fear or instead adds to the difficulty level – so far the jury is out). The thing is with buttonholes is that they can go really horribly wrong. I had spent a lot of time on this shirt, perfect seams and pressing and enough handstitching to see me to the moon and back, and I was not prepared to screw it up. Buttons in one hand and courage in another I sat down at my machine, attached the buttonhole foot and just got going.
The first one was a world of bad. For some reason, having not done a buttonhole for a while I had forgotten that although the foot looks like it should be centred, if you centre it on your button band you get one completely off-centre button. Reach for the stitch ripper, sigh and take it all out. Take 2: Remark where the buttonhole has to be and start again … not so shoddy and just as I’m about to down the homeward right hand side of my auto buttonhole I run out of thread … Noooooooo! Pick up stitich ripper again (wondering if you shouldn’t have it permanently grafted to your right hand like some kind of sewing mishap terminator) and undo. Wind new bobbin and insert. Take 3: losing the will to live, never mind sew by this point, I start again on the first of 12 (yes, there were still 12) buttonholes. Amazingly, this one was okay. In an effort not to overthink it, I launched into one after the other on the front. Seven down and four to go …
Miraculously, there were all pretty darn good. I clapped with delight (I’m aware it’s a bit uncool to applaud yourself but hey, there was no-one else there and it can be our secret, okay?) After some button sewing we were done! I pressed everything once more for luck and then it was back up to the house to show A his new shirt! Not only does he love it but he’s wearing it next weekend at his big “do” in Manchester.
So, without further ado, ladeeeze and gentlemens … I present to you Mr Chinnor Shirt, modelling this seasons’s must have – the Architect Shirt, complete with couture touches (mismatched buttons from my grand button stash).