||Open & Shut
by Peggy Bendel
original closure for your
It can be as simple as mixing eclectic buttons instead of matching them, or
as challenging as devising a distinctive loop or tie. Use the closure directions from a
commercial pattern as your guide, but don't limit yourself. Here are myriad ideas to
jumpstart your imagination in a new, creative direction.
Go beyond the basics and buttonholes can become beautiful.
Sew machine-made buttonholes in a contrasting
thread color-- it will resemble fine piping. Or use a different thread color on each
buttonhole for a whimsical look.
Choose rayon machine embroidery thread to match
the fabric color. Especially effective on matte-finished fabrics such as wool crepe and
linen weaves, the buttonholes will create a subtle textural interplay.
Add a cluster of decorative machine embroidery
motifs around each buttonhole. A sprinkling of stars, flowing vines or perhaps a delicate
scroll, makes a counterpoint to the buttonhole straight edges. Use beads, charms or small
novelty buttons as buttonhole accents.
On fleece, melton and other texture-rich
fabrics, cut a synthetic suede patch to use on the garment right side as a facing frame
for a box-stitched buttonhole.
Bound buttonholes can be any shape you want
them to be -- just face the welt opening in the shape desired, such as a triangle, an oval
or a freeform outline.
If you plan to use very large or uniquely shaped buttons or toggles, substitute loops at
the garment center front. Insert the loops into the front facing seam so the raw ends are
hidden, or apply them to the garment right side, cover the raw ends with an applique, a
synthetic suede patch or other creative accent, or simply knot the ends.
For fine loops, use rattail cord as the filler
for bias fabric tubes or select soutache braid. Cluster three to five of these loops at
each buttonhole placement marking and use small, half-ball buttons.
For loops of any size, use self- or contrasting
fabric strips cut on the fabric straight grain. To turn the raw edges under evenly, feed
them through a metal bias tape pressing aid and press. Cut two segments for each loop,
place them wrong sides together, and edgestitch. Fold in half so the short edges align.
Apply the loops to the garment using one of the previously mentioned methods.
Before applying loops to a garment, string
large beads, open-center coins or other embellishments onto them. Or, tie an interesting
knot in the loop center.
Broaden your closure horizons by making ties and using them in unexpected ways.
Make an overhand knot in each tie end, adding
beads or charms if desired.
Make belt-width ties and use a decorative slide
buckle as an ornamental closure.
Insert metal grommets or smaller eyelets and
lace ties through the openings.
Make an exceptionally lengthy tie and stitch
one end into a side or shoulder seam. Stitch the tie in a meandering design across the
garment until it reaches the open edge where the free end becomes a functioning tie.
It can be fun as well as fashionable to play with buttons as a design detail.
Buttons don't have to match. Alternate
large and small buttons on a center front closing, or use an interesting mix of vintage
pearl, jet or metal buttons that have only size and shape in common.
Stack two or three graduated sizes of buttons.
Add a bead on top as you stitch a button in
Machine embroider a single motif on fabric
circles, then cover your own buttons.
Double or triple the number of buttons the
pattern calls for to
create a dramatic focal point that's also a figure-flattering vertical accent.
Extend the sleeve vent on a tailored jacket
almost to the elbow and march a row of decorative buttons along the vent edge.
Begin with a spectacular button, then design a
garment around it. Everyone will wonder how you managed to find the perfect button.
When the pattern provides a faced edge for a front (or back) closure, it is a great
opportunity for creativity.
The faced edge doesn't have to follow a
straight line. Modify the pattern so the garment and facing edge are angled, curved or
follow a freeform shape. Or, cut the shape to mimic the outline of an applied
embellishment or a prominent print motif.
Align the facing and garment section wrong
sides together. Edge finish using a decorative machine stitched border of scallops,
zigzags or other dense, satin stitch patterns on the seamline. Coat the wrong side of the
stitches with seam sealant, let dry, then trim the excess fabric close to the stitches. Or
serge the edge with decorative threads.
Convert a simple faced front edge to a
concealed placket for understated elegance. (See "Out of Sight" on page 38.)
Sew a detachable placket with buttonholes that
align with the garment's buttonholes. Embellish the placket in whatever style you desire
-- elegant, humorous or seasonal.
Zippers can be as funky or as glamorous as you like.
The zippers available today can inspire a novel
approach. Select a contrasting zipper color and the zipper tape will appear to be a trim.
A rhinestone zipper can look as terrific on a denim jacket as a tailored suit or an
Insert the zipper with decorative flatlock
Add a decorative zipper pull, or thread beads
onto soutache braid and tie the braid through the zipper tab.
Sew a row of beads or tiny buttons along one or
both sides of an inserted zipper.
Unexpected findings can make clever closures.
Gripper snaps come in a wide assortment of
sizes and styles. Substitute snaps for standard buttons and buttonholes on virtually any
Hook-and-eye tape, a corsetier's notion
available in black, white and flesh colors, makes a decorative closure at the center front
or back. Dye the white tape to match or contrast with the garment.
Oversized, 1-1/2" hooks and eyes make a
sporty closure, particularly on denim, corduroy or fleece garments.
Samples shown are from Lois Ericson. See Resources below.
Opening & Closing ($32, postpaid)
Lois Ericson with Anne Charles, is available from Design & Sew, Dept. SN,
Box 5222, Salem, OR 97304.