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Why does sewing have to be so hard??

(the fabric-covered-buttons from hell)

I’m currently trying to draft a look-a-like dress based solely on a picture. Not all of this is difficult – I can make a fitted bodice and a gathered skirt. I can insert a zipper and sleeves. But this dress I’m copying does have a big fat collar and I’m having a little trouble recreating it. But one of my biggest issues are the buttons.

I need four fabric covered buttons. I’ve made these kinds of buttons before. You get a kit that has two metal button pieces plus a little plastic cylinder-like tool to help you in assembly. The packaging has a template you cut your fabric from and it all goes together all hunky dory-like.

Well, not these buttons. These were the “no tool needed” type. Which is stupid because that tool is very helpful! It bends the fabric over the edge of the outer button piece for you and keeps it in place while you attach the backplate.

These “no tool” buttons have “teeth” that are supposed to catch the edge of the fabric, only they do not. They’re almost as useless as the teeth on the big, flying monster in the last half of The Avengers (I mean, really, that thing is so huge – what does it need to chew!?!?).

The equally useless instructions give you this tip: “Use a pencil eraser to help catch fabric on teeth.” A pencil eraser!? This is 2012! I don’t even own a pencil. I have an iPhone to take all my notes but that won’t help me here. (You think I’m kidding – no, I own one mechanical pencil with no lead and a tiny eraser nub.)

Yeah, teeth = pointless.

So I used glue to keep my fabric in place – which doesn’t work that well either because you have to hold the fabric down long enough for the glue to stick then you have to quickly slam the backing on top and use a pin to stuff any outlying fabric into the button before it all explodes in sticky glue mess in your hand.

Oh, and there’s a correct way to put the backplate down over the button. Turns out I was doing it the wrong way. In my defense this illustration in no way has any sort of arrow or indication of which way is “up.” Stupid.

No wonder both my hands, my boyfriend’s hands, the spool of thread I was using and the back of these buttons took a beating. Only after three buttons did I figure out that the back was upside down. Why don’t you look at this picture above and guess which way was the “correct” way.

(my spool of thread – busted from trying to attach the button backplate)

Even when I had the pieces facing the right direction I still need a hammer to jam the two together. Last time I heard a hammer was, technically, a tool.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated or cursed this much during a sewing project even with all the seam ripping I’ve done in my life. These stupid buttons don’t even look that good from the right site anyway. *Facepalm*

This combined with my collar-drafting troubles have convinced me to put this project away for a day or two and come back to it when I’m not feeling like I want to beat something (or someone) senseless.

What’s the most frustration thing you’ve ever done in sewing? Notion related or otherwise? Have you every had so many problems with a project that you had to take a step back and work on something else?

Oh, and Susan, I know you are some sort of genius when it comes to these kind of buttons – well, don’t tell me how I’m doing it wrong. You’ve just got some crazy button mojo that us mere mortals do not have and I have accepted that.

Comments (16) for post “Why does sewing have to be so hard??”

  • Sorry to hear of your difficulties. Wrt the tool-less buttons, baste one line of sewing around the fabric circle (by hand/ machine) place the fabric circle over button top and can pull the basting thread to gather the fabric edges round the button top. Then snap on button base. Done.
    Wrt the collar, put a pic of and I’ll scan you a the draft instructions for it (if it exists in any of my drafting books).

    • Thanks for the tips – basting sounds like a much better plan. I think I’ve got the collar bit figured out. I just needed to make it much bigger than I thought it should be. Thanks for helping, though!

  • This is the kind of thing we kill ourselves over and develop early arthritis. I’m pretty sure there are places that will cover your buttons for you professionally, but I’m sure they’re not cheap.

  • Self-covering buttons used to be a lot easier than they are now. About ten years ago, there was a change to the “no tool needed” variety and I’ve hated self-covering buttons ever since. I remember thinking that I should buy all the remaining old-school ones while I still could – but I never got around to it.

  • That totally and completely sucks but it’s the name of the game. I have these experiences too. I once got so fed up with a project that I cut it into 2. Yep, I cut a dress into 2 pieces I was so fed up with it!

    • Please post about that on your blog, it will be a nice send off for those pants. There have been many times in which I’ve wanted to burn something I’ve made.

  • snaps. I went through 3 whole packages last month, using the 3 main snap setters you can buy at your average sewing supply shop. Not a single one worked out of the 60 I tried. The only one that was lined up correctly was easily removed when I pulled on it. Not ideal for infant sleepwear…

    my new bff: velcro.

  • I just made fabric covered buttons for the first time the other week using one of those tool kits. i was super nervous about it and set aside, like, 3 hours or something ridiculous in order to do it because i thought it was going to be a nightmare. then i jammed everything in that funny tool and pressed down and was like “thats IT??!!”
    I do not know the monstrous “no tool” covered button you speak of, but I hope we may never cross paths.

  • although i have just totally and completely accepted the fact that sometimes sewing sessions are doomed from the getgo, I still only walk away from the machine a few hours of complete frustration and wasted time. Other times though are just sweatshop hours of awesome. learning when to walk away should be in sewing books and blogs!

  • Oh, I’ve had these too – they really are frustrating, aren’t they? I’ve found out that they also work with the tools though, as long as you happen to have them in the same size (I knew there were upsides to never throwing anything away)… 🙂

  • Too funny… I really dislike those buttons and did the same exact thing!! It took me 3 tries before I realized I was putting the back on backwards. Oy.

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