If you've re-enacted for long, or just starting you'll either know or be soon to find out that poorly made button holes, an elastic mob cap, 1980 glasses, or running shoes can take a silk outfit and make it look like dirt. PLEASE don't make the mistake of skimping on the small things.
So, the sleeves and wing cuffs are on the gown. I now have to add the buttons and button holes on the sleeves. as you can see here <>
So, have you made a button hole before? They are the devil.
I'll lay it out as best I can here for you.
Step 1. Mark the position of your button hole. You'll want to use a lead (graphite) pencil or marking chalk. Mark a line where you would like your button hole to be. Test it against the button. Make sure that the button will it through the hole. Since the material and stitching will cause the hole to be smaller, I suggest making the button hole about 1/4" larger than the button. For decorative button holes such as the one in this garment I'll be making the button holes about 1.5". DO NOT CUT THIS LINE.
Step 2. run a small, closely stitched line about 1/8" away from the line, all the way around. This will hold the material and lining together and prevent it front shifting, or becoming misshapen.
Step 3. Now you can start cutting your material. Using a very small, sharp pair of scissors cut along your button hole line. If you're making a decorative button hole cut only enough of the button hole line that your button can fit in. The rest of the button hole is simply decorative and should NOT be touched.
Step 4. Get your needle ready. I would suggest using button twist/thread. You can get this at your local store. It's most likely polyester but in small places like button holes it's OK to use. You can find silk and cotton but it's more expensive and most likely have to order it online. A few online sutler have linen button twist. If using cotton or linen I would suggest having some bees wax to run your thread through so it works better for you. Using a color opposite from your material will make the button hole more decorative and stand out. I am using a darker brown on this jacket as the button holes are decorative but I don't want them to take away or be the main focus.
Step 5. Don't knot your thread. A knot will cause a bump in your button hole! Insert your needle between the two layers making sure to leave a small length of thread inside. Bring your needle out, to the main fabric (where you want your stitch to start), outside of the running stitch around the button hole. -I like starting 1/2 way down the side of the button hole so I'm able to cleanly sew the ends.-
Step 6. Now comes the tricky part. I'll try to explain it but I'm sorry if it is horrible. Insert your needle to the back parallel to where your needle came out. Don't pull the thread tight, bring your needle to the front, through the button hole and passing through the loop of thread. Now pull tight. Again insert your needle (from front to back) parallel to your last stitch and again bring it to the front through the button hole and passing through the loop of thread. Continue doing this all along your button hole. If you're making a decorative button and have no more hole to sew through, simply bring your needle up through the material to the front on the middle line (button hole line that you previously drew) and catch the loop. Continue this until the end.
Step 7. Once you've got a side done and at the end, make a stitch at a 90 degree angle instead of parallel and catch the loop again. To get to the other side make another 90 degree angle and continue on as in step 6.
Step 7. On the opposite side of the button hole, if you're making a decorative button, continue Step 6, but instead of coming up through the button hole, bring your needle to the front, meeting the opposite side of the button hole on the middle line.
Step 8. When you're button hole is done and you're happy with it, bring your needle the back of the garment. Using the needle weave your thread through some of the braid that has formed at the edge of the button hole. Then pull your needle through the middle of the material and up about 1" away. Pull on the thread bunch the material a little, snip if off. when you smooth out your material the end will disappeare into the material. Your end is not hidden. this is a great thing to do after knotting anything when sewing to prevent little tails all over the place, or cutting the tails too short and ruining the knot.
If you have any other questions PLEASE feel free to contact me and ask questions. I have no problem at all with helping you out! Good luck guys. I'll be continuing work on this brown jacket and making my 28 decorative button holes.
Sign of the Thistle Historical Clothing Co.