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threadWEAR 301

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The London Shirt Sew Along Part Four: Hems and Buttons


Welcome back to the final post of the London Sew Along! Today we are going to finish the project by focusing on the hems and making buttonholes. Let's get sewing! 

Begin by staystitching ʺ from the bottom of the Front and Back. Use the stitching line as a guide to press the bottom to the wrong side of the fabric. 

To create the handkerchief hem, fold along the bottom another ⅜ʺ to create the double fold hem. Do not press and pin the hem, as you would normally do. This time, start at the center front and fold the hem as you stitch along the folded edge of the hem. Below is an excerpt from our Small Hems Sew Confident tutorial, which demonstrates in detail how to create the handkerchief hem. Note, however, that our hem is ⅜ʺ, not ½ʺ.

When you reach a corner, pivot the garment to create an unbroken line of stitching. Keeping the needle down anchors the hem as you fold the hem directly in front of the needle in preparation to sew the next segment.

To pivot the garment:

1. Stitch until you are ⅜ʺ from the end of the stitching line. If you are unable to eyeball the amount, use a chalk marker to mark that spot on all your corners.

2. When you reach that mark, place the needle down in the fabric.

3. Raise your presser foot and turn the fabric to create a new ⅜ʺ hemline.

4. Lower your presser foot and continue stitching. 

 To create your buttonholes, start by drawing a chalk line down the middle of the center front hem. Then, transfer the button placement lines by drawing chalk lines horizontally across the center front hem and the top of the buttonhole. 

Before you start stitching the buttonholes, use a scrap piece of fabric to test the buttonhole length. Replicate the same conditions as the garment, such as three layers of fabric, interfaced or not. To help keep the buttonhole flat and prevent the ends of the buttonhole from drawing up and puckering, place a scrap of pattern tissue paper under each buttonhole placement and stitch through all layers. Stitch your buttonhole as you would normally. This will adhere the tissue to your garment, which is easily be ripped off when you are finished.

​Using a seam ripper or scissors to cut open buttonholes can be dangerous – so often we lose control and clip through the stitching. We recommend using a buttonhole cutting kit. It is a much more precise and professional way to cut open the buttonholes without cutting through your stitching. Cut open your test buttonhole and insert your button just to be sure it fits.

Once you are satisfied with your buttonhole length and stitching, you can start to stitch on the garment. Sometimes the top buttonhole is tricky to sew because you might be sewing over a seam allowance of the collar. This added bulk can make your buttonhole foot unlevel which will affect the size of your buttonhole. To remedy this, stitch this buttonhole from bottom to top. The foot will slide over the added bulk easier, creating the right size buttonhole.

Align the right front edge at the stitching line on the left front. To mark the button placement, place a pin in each buttonhole slightly above center.

Fold the right front back to expose the pin insertion point. Place another pin on the left front to make the exact button placement. 

Sew-Through Button: Chalk mark the pin marking. Take one stitch through the right side of the fabric. Insert the needle through one hole in the button. Place a toothpick or matchstick on top of the button between the holes. Take the needle down through the other hole and take another stitch in the fabric. Repeat for several stitches ending with the thread under the button.

Remove the toothpick and raise the button to the top of the stitches. Wind the thread tightly under the button to form a shank. Secure the thread on the right side with several smalls stitches close to the shank.

Shank Button: Secure the thread on the right side of the fabric with several small stitches. Sew through fabric and the shank and fasten off with several more small stitches.

Thanks so much for joining us for the London Sew Along! If you enjoyed this Sew Along, be sure to check back in the archives for the Cottage, Frankie, Stafford and Zayn Sew Alongs. 

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