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Article “Embellished buttonholes”

monbak | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi everyone. I’m new to the magazine and fairly new to sewing so I was wondering if any of you knew the name of that wonderful tool for measuring buttonhole placement on your garment on page 23 of the current issue of the magazine? It looks kind of old to me so I was wondering if that kind of thing still existed and if so if I can get one in any sewing supply store. I live in what is considered a small town in Canada and sometimes they don’t carry that much at our local fabric store. Anyway, any help on the name of that tool would be appreciated. Thank you.


  1. jane4878 | | #1


    It's called a Simflex button gauge.  I also live in a small town in Canada.  I bought an old one on Ebay.  Sewing machine stores, fabric and quilting stores often have them.  I've seen them for $21 to $31 CAD.  I got mine for $9.  Try http://agreatnotion.com/catalogue/index1.html if you wish to buy Canadian.

    Good luck,




    1. monbak | | #2

      Jane. You have no idea how much this makes me happy. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I'm one of those persons who greatly appreciates the little things in life. Thanks a million.

      1. jane4878 | | #3

        You're welcome :^)  I'm a notion junky too.  I spent too much last year, so this year I have to behave!  There's a lot of stuff on that sight I'd love to get.

  2. lvs2sew | | #4

    You can also get it from Clotilde or Nancy's Notions.  I have used my for years and it is one notion that I can't live without!

    1. Teaf5 | | #5

      It's a nifty-looking notion, but I can't seem to justify buying it because I can space buttonholes by simply folding a strip of paper into sections. For five buttons, folding the paper into fourths works perfectly (top, bottom, the three folds in between). For seven buttons, fold in half, then again into thirds (sixths overall) with one at the top edge and one at the bottom. I just decide where I want the top and bottom buttons, make the paper strip exactly that length and fold away.

      1. Stillsewing | | #6

        That's a brilliant idea thanks. The next bit is the difficult part, doing the embellishment.

        1. RhettaRic | | #7

          After reading that article I decided to try using my embroidery feature for the buttonholes.  I only needed three buttonholes, so they fit on my large hoop fine. 

          Wow, was it nice.  My only question is WHY don't buttonhole makers (embroidery and on the Designer I) have more space to rip the buttonhole open!?!  I've tried everything.  If I get one without messing up the stitching, it's a miracle.

          1. MaryinColorado | | #8

            I use a buttonhole cutter that is flat and comes with a little wooden piece that you set under the fabric like a mini cutting board.  I bought it at the Viking dealer, they are also at http://www.nancysnotions.com and http://www.clotilde.com

            If you put a straight pin, horizontally, at each end of the buttonhole, it prevents cutting through the ends if you are using a seam ripper. 

          2. Pattiann42 | | #9

            I also use the straight pin and seam ripper method.  I inherited a pair of buttonhole scissors from my MIL, but have never used them.

          3. Palady | | #10

            Reading this Thread brought me smiles.  Being an admitted gageteer, some of my purchases over the years have proven worthy. 

            When a local Joann's was moving, circa 1974, the store had a huge clearance sale.  I bought the Simplex for $1.95.  A ham & seam roll for the same amount.  A pounding block and pointer for $2.95.  Plus a whole bunch of other "stuff."

            My daughter now has many of my notions because she sews fashion much more than do I.  What she has found in seeing the notions of her fellow sewists, is her "older" notions are better quality wise.  Especially the ham and seam roll.  Her pounding block is largely unavailable as best as we know.

            I also bought the fastrun set when it first came on the market.  The price has quadrupled over the years.



          4. Teaf5 | | #11

            Do you have an option for making the width of the zigzag narrower while using the buttonholer?  On my old machine, I set it to one of the narrowest zigzags as the baseline, and the buttonholer uses that on the sides and then doubles it on the ends.

            An easy way to cut open buttonholes is with a piece of scrap wood, a hammer, and a chisel.  The chisel is easy to seat between the stitching lines, and most sets come with varying sizes.  I sneak them out of my husband's workbench and then startle everyone as I pound away on the cutting board in the kitchen.  It's loud but efficient and never cuts more than I want.

          5. RhettaRic | | #12

            So far I have just been using the preset patterns for buttonholes - there are a lot.  Some of those are just fine to separate.  But when I used the embroidery function for the fancy buttonholes, that's when it was soooo close, it was difficult to separate.  I was using corderoy.  Maybe that made a difference. 

            And I just got around to reading the book on all the preset buttonholes - some are for heavier material, some for lighter.  I think I was just willy nilly picking one.  It helps to read the manual.  But I will look into the chisel and block of wood!  Thanks.

          6. MaryinColorado | | #13

            I bought a buttonhole cutter at my sewing machine dealers.  It looks like a chisel and has an apple shaped piece of wood.  It works very well too.  Someone must have come up with the same idea as you and patented it. 

            When I was pregnant with my first child, all the maternity clothes were so matronly and polyester.   I opened the seams in my jeans and inserted triangles of knit fabric, on a few I cut off the front and inserted a knit panel.  Now I see these for sale all over the place.

            Just think, we could have made lots of money with these ideas!  They say hind sight is 20=20, aw shucks! 


          7. RhettaRic | | #14

            Oh, Mary, that wasn't my idea!! Someone else suggested it!  But yes, you missed the boat on those maternity clothes ideas! 



          8. MaryinColorado | | #15

            Ooops!  I should know better than to try to write when I'm half asleep.  I rarely drink coffee, and I had some with cookies while watching the awards show.  Finally got to sleep around 6 a.m. and the alarm went off at 6:30! 

            Oh well, I had a productive night organizing my sewing studio.  I even inventoried all my threads and reorganized them.  I'm a threadaholic so that's no easy task.  Now I'm ready to enter them into my embroidery software under "My Threads".  Then I can do a printout to keep in my purse.  The more I learn about my new 4D software, the more impressed I become.  It seems as if they've thought of everything.  Mary

          9. RhettaRic | | #16

            Oh, you have the 4d too!  I love it.  Haven't used it too much yet.  But I found it VERY user-friendly. 

            Do you do a lot of embroidery?  I don't have enough thread to organize yet...

            What kind do thread do you like best? 

            You stayed up basically ALL NIGHT?  I'm way too old for that.

          10. MaryinColorado | | #17

            Oh, believe me, I am too old to stay up all night too!  I won't be drinking coffee in the evenings again, that's for sure.  It will take me all week to recouperate!

            I love the 4D software.  I bought the Pfaff4DSuite even though I have the Husq/Viking Designer 1.  Both packages are the same, just different boxes and packaging, I'm told.  So now I wonder if the new H/V embroidery/sewing machine will be very similar to the Creative Vision? 

            I go to both companies' websites and do the tutorials and software reviews.  It helps alot just to see it.  I hope to load my Sulky Rayon 40 wt. and metallic, holorshimmer, and sliver embroidery threads into "My Threads" tomorrow.  That's what I have the most of, and prefer.  I was too tired today.  

             Then I'll have to decide if it's worth it to load all the rest of them.  I have cotton embroidery threads, cotton heirloom threads, 12 wt, 30wt., 50wt, then there's all the YLI Perle Crown Rayons and Glamour and such for doing DigiBobbe, bobbinwork, quilting, etc.  Plus some Robison Anton Poly and Rayon embroidery threads too, then there are the blendables, twists, etc. 

            I purged my fabric stash and donated alot, quit buying fabrics except for specific projects and don't buy more until I've completed some.  I still have one cabinet full of fabric.  Little did I realise, I just switched addictions to the thread category!  I really didn't realise how much thread and fibers I've collected the last few years.  Especially when you add the threads and fibers for serging that I hadn't even thought about until just now.  (At least the serger threads are all organized in one place so I know what I have.) 

            Now I know where that saying "Sewing is cheaper than a psychiatrist" came from!  ha ha  Threads are cheaper than fabric and don't take up much space, but that just made it easy for me to accumulate so much.  I feel rather absurd about it really.  Mary

          11. RhettaRic | | #18

            I wish you had a blog or site where I could see your embroidery work!  I don't even know what some of that stuff is!  diggebobbe??? 

            How is that possible that Pfaff and Viking have the same 4D?  I've wondered that for a while.  I have the Viking DI also, but bought a Pfaff creative serger.  I've thought about buying thread on Ebay but read somewhere that I would regret it - serger thread and embroidery.  So far I can't see much difference when I sew with Joann's cheap serger thread and the Maxilock.  And I only have a starter box of embroidery threads  (think it starts with an M) and then a few Sulky spools I've picked up.

             "H/V embroidery/sewing machine will be very similar to the Creative Vision" - so Viking is coming out with a new one??  Besides the SE or whatever it is?  Well, I cannot imagine myself ever upgrading from this Designer I (famous last words).  When I bought it (used) they said, well, this is a good starter machine.  I almost choked. 

            I sooo look forward to retiring when I'll have all the time in the world to play.  Yesterday I was on a job and this lady had on a Chanel-type jacket (I've just almost finished one, so am very interested).  She probably thought I was interested in her cause I kept staring (ha).  I wanted to catch a glimpse of the inside to see if it was lined, etc.  It had fringe around edge with a ribbon sewn down as the trim between fringe and the jacket.  She was up and down from her chair playing with documents and I finally got a peek and it was finished, lined, just like mine inside.  Now I have to make another with that fringe.  I get off on these binges and have no control. 

            Some people collect thimbles, salt and pepper shakers, etc - be proud of that thread.  I'm tryin to not collect to much fabric/yarn, but it's not easy.  It's growing. 

          12. MaryinColorado | | #20

            VSM owns Viking, Pfaff, Singer, and White. 

            Your jacket sounds lovely.  I gave up sewing for myself for awhile due to fitting frustration.  I found two good candidates to make a sloper for me at the Creative Festival in Denver.  Eventually I will contact them for help with fitting issues.  Distracted for now with a new zest for machine embroidery.  (Been doing it for a decade, so was bored with it till I bought the new software.) 

            I am going to make myself a wide strap sundress and see how it works out.  That just might inspire me!  I'm helping my granddaughter learn to make her own clothes too.  She loves to challenge herself, and me with complex design. 

            I tried knitting, had visions of making beautiful sweaters, but everything came out lopsided.  I can crochet a tad, just seems to come naturally, but with arthritis in my hands is difficult.  Mary

          13. MaryinColorado | | #21

            On your Designer 1, go to the "Set" menu, menu U is the first one that comes up.  There is a place to adjust the needle tension, then presser foot preassure adjust, then the one to adjust buttonholes.  There you can increase or decrease the right side of your buttonhole to be narrower or wider.  Hope this helps!  Mary

            "starter machine"!!!!!  Shame on them, it was the top of the line for a very long time!  It's not even close to being a starter machine.  I just helped my mother in law buy a less expensive sewing machine.  We got her a great deal, under $500, a Brother Innovis 400, the list price was closer to $1,000, and it's not even thier starter machine!  All the bells and whistles on the D1 plus the embroidery aspect, certainly doesn't qualify it as a "starter".  Wonder what she would call the Huskystars, Emerald, Sapphier, and other Vikings that are below the D1?  She obviously doesn't know of what she speaks!!!  Sounds like she is one  of those people who can't stand to see someone happy and feeling good so she puts negative energy out there.  She loves to rain on others' parades!  Poor thing!  Mary

            Edited 2/27/2008 9:23 am by MaryinColorado

          14. RhettaRic | | #22

            Well, aren't you the genius!  I'm printing that out and putting in my manual.  I've experimented a bit with some of the built in ones and found one I think will work on this jacket.  I'm just dragging my heels.  It looks so nice without any clutter of buttonoles or buttons.  I actually wore it to work yesterday as was. 

            I was quite surprised when she said that too.  The thing is I don't think the ladies working the sewing machine (Viking) center of Joann's necessarily have a whole lot of  sewing machine/sewing/embroidery/serging knowledge or experience.  Some do, but it's not a requirement to work there.  I learned that the hard way.  I bought the 936 serger as I figured I definitely wanted cover stitch capability.  Well, you have TEN days to return for full purchase price.  I spent an unbelievable amount of hours on that machine.  I could recite verbatim exactly how to change it over and thread it properly.  I sort of got it to work for a bit.  But then no more.  When it got down to the wire, I grabbed it up with receipt and went back down there and said you show me what I'm doing wrong and I'll keep it.  They had NO clue.  I guess I picked the wrong work shift.  She got the book out and started to convert it for the cover stitch and I had to keep correcting her step by step.  Needless to say, they couldn't figure it out.  So I got my money back and went and bought a Pfaff for much less and it is a BREEZE to convert to cover stitch.  But it has not endeared me to my local sewing center....

            OH and when I went to get the Pfaff serger - that place just poo-pooed me saying if you want a serger get the Evolve (Baby Lock).  Well, it's WAY expensive.  I said well, what else you got?  They were really put off by that, but eventually waved to the Pfaffs in the back of store.  So after some cajoling on my part, they finally showed how they worked, etc., and I "settled" on this beaut of a machine that seems to me to be better built, easier to convert,  and has all the decorative stuff on it.  And the ladies there did become MUCH more friendly when they realized I was NOT going for that Evolve.  So far LOVE my Pfaff.


          15. MaryinColorado | | #23

            Thanks, glad to help.  It's a shame they hire "silly sales clerks" who can lift 60#s as a requirement, rather than people who value customer service and care to learn whatever necessary.  Each customer who is satisfied just might come back and invest more.  They discourage new sewists too!  There is no "perfect for everybody" machine!  It's insulting when they try to push us into a mold.  Sewing is all about our creativity and being unique.

            I love my Huskylock 936!  I really did my research, even kept a spiral notebook with all the info.  Pfaff is great too.  The jet air threader on the Babylock was high on my list!  Until I test drove it, the clerk couldn't get it to take anything except serger thread.  No thanks!  I knew I wanted to use lots of heavy threads so brought them along.  So many stitches looks beautiful with 12 wt. cotton blendables from Sulky, YLI Perle Crown Rayon, I even put yarns through both loopers from time to time. 

             YLI's Perle Crown Rayon and Superior Threads' 30 wt. thread makes lovely serger lace. 

            Have you tried the chain stitch or 3 thread coverstitch with fancy threads in the loopers?  Use serger thread in the needle, put the fabric right side down.  When you turn it over, you will love it.  Especially looks cool with metallic embroidery thread or Superior Threads Halo metallic serger thread.  Can you tell I've got the "urge to serge"?  It's my favorite thing.  Gathering is a breeze with the serger too. 

            It's all about a person's creativity and what they want to do with a machine that should really matter to dealers.  The one I go to is excellent, they still try to "nudge" me into upgrading, but if I do, it will be in my own time and because it's right for me.

          16. rodezzy | | #24

            MaryinColorado:  I got confused.  Do you use all of those heavy yarns and threads with the Huskylock 936 or the Pfaff? 

            Sounds like so much fun to use, whichever one you are talking about.  I'm going to upgrade this year if it kills someone, giggle.

          17. MaryinColorado | | #25

            Of course Momma's don't play favorites, but, Hannah, my 936 Huskylock does seem to get more attention than my other machines (babies).  As much as you enjoy working/playing with a variety of fibers, I think you would have a blast with it.  The book "Serger Secrets" is where I started on the road to creative serging.  You can piece quilts on it too.  There is a way to do "quilt as you go" with the coverstitch too but I haven't done that yet...it's on my "to do" list.

             (Rhettoric has the Pfaff, sorry, I was just commenting to her that it is a nice machine also, I don't have one so you'd have to test drive it to see if it takes the thick threads well.)  She might be able to help re the Pfaff.

          18. rodezzy | | #26

            Oh, O.K. thanks for the reply.  I will look at the Huskylock 936.

          19. MaryinColorado | | #27

            Have a happy day!  Mary

          20. Palady | | #28

            There's a Viking 936 group on Yahoo for anyone interested.  It's been active since Apr 2001 and has information on the machine that matters.  MO, the files contain much of use.




          21. Teaf5 | | #19

            On heavy or slippery fabrics, sometimes I tug the fabric slightly to one side after the first side has been stitched, not a lot, but enough to allow a little space between the two lines of stitching on a buttonhole. It's probably not recommended in the machine manual, but it works for me!

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