Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Buttons Aren't Just For Mending

Today is the final day of choosing a winner for the Quilt Fiesta blog tour. The last stop is me and I have 2 books to give away.  The winners are:  Carla and Lisa Garrett. Congratulations ladies.

Hooray!  And isn't this adorable.  My friend Barb Sipes brought it to the Open House.  Thank you Barb and it's a fitting end to celebrate.  I'm heading for the cork screw.

I would like to leave Mexico behind for now and return to my love of handwork and embellishing.  Now some people may mistake handwork for hand quilting.  I do not mean handquilting when I say I love sitting down and doing work by hand.  I really mean embellishing and embroidery and everyone once in a while, big stitch quilting.  My pieces are small but intricate.

I discovered these techniques in 2004.  My youngest son left for college and I became an empty nester.  As for many of us, it was a huge adjustment and I really missed being a hands on  Mom.  (Little did I know that the job was not done, nor was the nest empty for long.)  I decided to go in a new direction and I created my quilt -" Motherhood", subtitled  "If I Did Such a Good Job of Giving My Kids Roots and Wings, Then Why Am I So Sad?"

This opened a whole new area of creativity for me.  I loved the handwork and it was a welcome way for me to spend time while my husband and I  spent the next chapter of our lives traveling. ( It also makes you feel less guilty while sitting and watching TV.)

I like to add buttons to my quilts.  It can be quite a time consuming process if there are a lot of buttons to add.  So now I am going to contradict myself and share how I use my sewing machine for sewing on buttons. 

 The discovery of using my Bernina to sew on buttons came many years ago, when my husband told me that his pants were missing a button. Could I sew one on? Couldn't that fancy sewing machine of mine sew on a button? Did it have to take a month? It was just not something that I wanted to put on my "to do"  list.

So with a little ingenuity I figured out how to do it. I dropped the feed dogs, switched to a zig zag stitch and used an open toed foot. Done! 2 minutes! Yay! But then he couldn't button his pants because the button was too tight. Shucks! That's when I learned to place a needle under the button, out of the way of the sewing machine needle so that the button wasn't too tight.

So could I use this technique to embellish my quilts?  You betcha!  Here's my button tutorial .

The supplies needed are: 
1.  An open toed foot for the sewing machine to ensure desired placement
2.  Spray adhesive - acid free is best
3.  toothpick
4.  small sharp scissors
5.  The ability to do a zig zag stitch and drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine
6.  Fray Chek

If I am doing a lot of buttons and their placement is important, I will spray their backs with the spray adhesive.  Since spray adhesive can be a messy and nasty product, I set up a spray station using a box to confine the overspray.  I do not bother with this step if it is only one or two buttons.

Using the open toed foot, drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine (some models have a plate to cover them) and set the stitch to zig zag.
 Place the button in the desired place.  A toothpick is a handy tool for placement.  If the button has been sprayed with adhesive, position it properly before placing the quilt under the sewing machine.
 Adjust the width of the zig zag so that it fits both holes.  Do this slowly by hand turning the needle.  When the proper stitch width has been found, you can use your foot pedal, but again do it slowly and carefully.  I usually zig and zag 5-8 times.

For multiple buttons, it is not necessary to cut the thread and start all over each time.    After I am completely done, I clip the threads on both the top and the back.

And then add the tiniest drop of Fray Chek to the thread on both the top and the back to make sure it does not come undone.


  1. Great post. I was at a sew-cial today and realized several attendees didn't know how or why to use Fray check. Made me realize there are many opportunities to blog about it and help increase awareness.

    SewCalGal announced the lucky winner tonight for a copy of Quilt Fiesta!. Apple Blossom (Scraps of Life) is the lucky winner.


  2. You're brilliant! Thanks for the great tutorial with fabulous pictures!


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