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Jul 31, 2012

Peter Speaks: The Singer Buttonholer VIDEO!



Readers, who doesn't enjoy watching a buttonholer video?  I know I do!

I've received a lot of questions about my all-metal vintage Singer buttonhole attachment, and I hope that this short video will answer them.   This buttonholer, which dates back to the late 1930's, does not use templates like later models do.  You determine the length of your buttonhole yourself -- and not only the length, but also the density of the stitches, the width of the stitches, and the size of the cutting space (i.e., the hole).



So put your feet up, make some popcorn, and enjoy my latest video.  If you have any questions about this Singer buttonholer (model 121795) please ask!


Have a great day, everybody!



NOTE: I generally apply a few drops of Fray Check to all my buttonholes before I cut through them.  (I always let it dry completely first.)  I cut my buttonholes with a seam ripper, very slowly and carefully.  If the fabric is difficult to cut through, I may start at either end and meet in the center.

40 comments:

  1. Thanks so much afor the video. I've got one of these with my featherweight; but was feeling very intimidated by it.

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  2. Oh wow! I have a Singer 99K with the all-metal buttonholer that looks like the metal and plastic one you showed in the beginning. I should see if my feed dogs will drop on that machine, as that would give me more space for fabric.
    The cheer at the end of the video is charming!

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  3. Great video, I have one of these and several greist rotary button holers that I use mainly as i love the rounded ends and keyhole the greist works. But now I see that I may have dismissed the adjustable singer one a little faster than I should have. Unless I am in a real rush I prefer to use my vintage button holers over my computerized bernina ones. They are just nicer. One trick I learned, may have read it in the greist instructions was to sew the button hole once with a thick bead, then a second time with a thin bead, on thick fabrics this makes a very passable imitation purled buttonhole. The thin bead forms a ridge around the inside of the button hole.
    Thanks again

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  4. What a wonderful video and what neat button holes. I am scared of buttons and making button holes so I have never used them on my machine.

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  5. LOVE it - i have three of four buttonholers and just love them. I'm currently learning how to hand work button holes - my sad efforts need much more practice. if i don't manage to get them to a standard i like, i'll be resorting to the vintage buttonholers!

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  6. Great video thankyou Peter. I think that whatever mechanical buttonhole you use, you often do better with thin thread and two passes rather than thicker thread (but that may just be my wimpy plastic modern machine). I also think that a little bead of fray check to seal the hole before you cut it never goes astray. And a buttonhole chisel is a great invention!

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  7. Thanks for a great video! I learned to sew on my Mom's Singer treadle but she switched it out for a new home electric which I now have in the original cabinet. Just hearing the buttonholer brings back memories ;-)

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  8. I learned to make button holes with one of the button hole makers on my mom's Singer from the early 50's. The one she still uses!

    Love your blog.

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  9. Thanks for the video, Peter. Do you know other machines this model will fit on? I have a featherweight and a Fashion Mate 257 (They both have the same shank, even though the Fashion Mate is a zigzag). My featherweight buttonholer is not working and I need to replace it or figure out how to fix it.

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  10. Peter for President!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. I'm so glad I purchased one of these last year because now the ebay price will go up!!!

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  12. Loved the video. Thank you for posting it. It reminds me of the equipment I learned to sew on so many years ago.

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  13. Victoria, It'll work on any low shank machine so it will work on your Featherweight. On a zigzag machine, just make sure it's set for a straight stitch.

    I have at least 3 types of buttonholers...the 2 Peter showed & a couple that will just work on my old Kenmores but this one is my favorite. You can adjust everything to suit your fabric/project. And it does seem to run smoother than the later ones.

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    1. That's great to know, Pat, thanks. I wasn't sure you could use this one on a low shank zigzagger.

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    2. Yeah, I've used it on a '90s Kenmore & it worked just fine. I used to keep it set up as a dedicated buttonhole machine. But I'd much rather use it on my 201-2...or another of my vintage machines. Just don't enjoy sewing on a newer plasticky model!

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  14. I have this Singer buttonholer in the box to go with my Singer in the bentwood carry box. thanks!

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  15. Thanks for the info, Pat.

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  16. That is SO cool and fun to watch...and listen to for that matter. The invention of all these sewing machine attachments simply amazes me! They seem quite complicated...I can only amagine the process that goes into something like this. I don't think I would have been able to figure it out without a manual. Your video is exceptional and I always enjoy seeing attachments in operation. I have a few that I've not tried yet. Now I will.

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  17. A copy of this button holer is still made by a japanese company, YS-Star: http://www.yoshikoshi.mfg.co.jp/CONFERENCE%20ROOM.html
    And there are 3 videos about it on youtube. The two commercial ones are rather bad quality, a private one is quite nice, even if one doesn't understand a word of the language she is talking in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ll6pGTES7g.

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  18. Thanks for the great tutorial.
    A little trick when ripping open buttonholes is to insert a pin horizontally just inside the thread, and rip from the other end towards the pin. That way your ripper will dead-end at the pin,and not touch the buttonhole thread.

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    1. I just saw a tip about this, too, and it works like a charm! I'll always use a pin from now on :-)

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  19. I have one of these to go on my featherweight, but it doesn't have the little screw to attach it to the shank, does anyone know whether I can get a replacement for it?

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    1. You should be able to use the same foot you use to attach your presser feet. Give it a try.

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    2. I have, the stem is too short/the end bit is too big to screw it in properly :( woe

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  20. I have a singer buttonholer with templates (all black metal with a white plastic knob, $1 baby!) and a Famous brand all metal one. It's comes in the plain blue card box with the little knife etc. I haven't been able to find a date for it though. It's not the 50th anniversary version. I have the 1930s singer pinking attachment and since everything came from the same lady (including my 1941 Singer 201) I'm assuming it's somewhere dated between 1930s and 1950s. I think the Famouse boxes were green during the war though so I really have no clue.

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  21. I enjoy your little videos, Peter, and love the little pop-up commentary..I am still laughing over that one "Get this guy a thesaurus". It was great to see this buttonholer in action and it sure does make nice buttonholes!

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  22. Just had to get one, didn't I!! My 201k is going to be sew happy!
    Apparently the feed dogs can be dropped on most, if not all, early Singers, but it may involve fiddling with the works underneath. I'll try to find the link.

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    1. Sheila, if you look under the 201, you'll see a big screw and two screw hole "positions." One is for feed dogs up (it's likely already in that position), one is for feed dogs down. Just loosen the screw and change positions. Very easy to do!

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  23. That was fun to see how the buttonholer works. Thanks for posting.

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  24. Thank you so much for the great video. I don't have this one yet but have a couple of others that I am working up the courage to master. I have that one in the green clam shell box you showed and a couple of the greist that somehow came to live here but have never known much of anything about how to use them. I want to set up one of the machines here just as a buttonhole station. I just can't seem to trust the computerized machines here to always do a perfect buttonhole so do them on my mechanical bernina 930. If it ever goes south I am done for so need to learn to use the buttonholer attachment on the vintage machines.Thanks for the help as I am clueless. mssewcrazy

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  25. Peter, I too have one of these. It was with my great grandma's 15-30 treadle. I never used it. After watching your video, I think I will get it out and really learn how to use it. Nice that you can change the density of the stitches, don't think that can be done with the template types. Also nice is that you can change the size of the bh without taking it off the machine! I never knew it was that easy to use...I guess I should READ the directions, not just look at the pictures!

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  26. After watching your video about this buttonholer I wanted to find one. I have the black with white knob on top with templates and it is good but I wanted to find an all metal one. Luck was with me as I found one along with a lot of other attachments for $10.00. I pick the lot up Wednesday and will be playing with it Wednesday night. On a side note, your sewing cabinets look like mine. Yes there is a method to our madness.

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  27. Sir, you have corrupted me!

    It started when my Father was still alive, and he wanted some trousers shortening. So I set up my late Mother's Singer 99K and had a go. It is, after all just another machine., and it is manly thing to bend a machine to your will. It may object. It may fight back, but that is an exercise in futility. Yet it will learn to love you and do your bidding.

    (er, maybe you should forget I wrote that...)

    More seriously, planning some costuming for next year's Worldcon in London, I have been spending time sorting out my mother's machine, and then I saw this video.

    I went and looked at eBay, with inevitable condequences.

    Even as I write, Mercury's wingéd messenger is bearing to me the loot of the Americas as if I were, for the nonce, that stout Cortez standing upon his peak in Darien.

    (I think I am sober...)

    Anyway, I hereby declare that It Is All Your Fault!

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  28. I really like the video. Very helpful. I have a problem and was wondering if this has happened to your buttonholer. The wing nut on the back adjustment came off and will not go back on. I fixed it for the moment with a small regular nut.Do you think I stripped the wink nut threads? anyway jut wondering if anyone has ever had this problem Thanks bannie

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    1. I really doubt you stripped it. It may just be very difficult to get threaded. I'd try a few times more.

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  29. Hi Peter, do you know if I can create eyelets with this buttonholer? I have the newer version with the eyelet cam, but I'm tired of having to figit with cams and want something quicker! Thanks! V

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  30. Hi Peter,
    How would you set this buttonholer to sew buttonholes for a classic men's shirt front ?
    I got addicted to buttonholers after seeing you use them, so now I have 2 (one that looks very much like yours, and the famous one).
    Thanks :)

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