Buttonholes By Hand

Back when I was an impressionable little 13-year-old, I believed that buttonholes could only be made by them fancy new sewing machines that had it as a special built in feature, and if you didn’t have a machine like that then you were just shit out of luck, only minus the profanity since I was the goodiest of the goody two-shoes (I have since reformed). I had gained that idea from my sewing teacher.

You see, I grew up in Mormonville, Utah (I have since reformed), so basic sewing skills were part of the public school’s curriculum. I actually tried to take all of the sewing classes that were available, and ended up with a fuck ton of pyjama pants because of it. I ended up quitting in high school, after my sewing teacher had said that the final project could be “anything you wanted,” until I started ambitiously putting together a halter top — then she amended the assignment to being either a skirt or pyjama pants, and wouldn’t accept my project. I was so pissed off, I changed my schedule for the new semester to take myself out of the next sewing course.

Anyway, back to that very first basic sewing skills class in junior high. I suppose that the teacher taught us how to make buttonholes using the specific feature on them fancy new machines because it was quick and easy, and most of the students were too stupid to understand any other method. But she presented it in the light of, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY. Probably because she didn’t want any curious students asking her questions. Come to think of it, she was a terrible teacher, and the only thing useful that I learned from her was that sewing machines had parts. She did the same thing with using sergers to finish seams.

So, for a long while that’s what I believed, until last year when I picked up sewing again. The first thing I did was buy a little sewing book for $3 at a used book store, and lo and behold it had instructions for something called a buttonhole stitch! It was a miracle! Buttonholes could be done by hand! I was no longer held back by the fact that I didn’t have one of them fancy new machines! Yay!

A few months later when we found ourselves living with my parents (which was absolutely miserable), I learned how to do buttonholes on my mom’s old machine. It took some practice, but I figured out how to do it just by changing the stitch width and length. Special features? My ass! Any old zig-zag machine could do it.

Now, as I sit and patiently hand-sew my buttonholes for my summer dress, I remember my journey across time, and marvel at how far I’ve come in just a year. Or something like that.

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