This section is from the "Hand Sewing Lessons" book, by Sarah Ewell Krolik. Also available from Amazon: Hand Sewing Lessons: A Graded Course For Schools And For The Home.
A lengthwise piece of firm cotton, 2x6 inches, for practice.
Two lengthwise pieces of the same, 2x4 inches.
A button-hole is cut on the line of a thread, and curved around the front end to hold the shank of the button. The back is straight, and is held together by a bar of several threads that is covered by sewing over and over them, or by working them with button-• hole stitch. A button-hole is cut the width of the button to be used.
Button-holes are cut with button-hole scissors or with a chisel. A ticket punch is sometimes used to cut the round hole at the front. In light or medium weight cloth, this may be done with a bodkin before the button-hole is cut, and the threads clipped that are displaced around the hole.
Overcast with very fine thread, so that the surface of the button-hole will be smooth. When a coarse thread or twist is used to strengthen a button-hole, it is put through from the wrong side, at the end farthest from the edge of the garment and carried around the second and third fingers of the left hand to hold it tight while the button-hole is worked over it. A heavy thread to work the but-ton-hole over may be carried from the back to the front, fastened there with one stitch and carried back to the starting point. Using thread to stay a button-hole is called cording. Take another thread, when that in the needle is not long enough to make a complete button-hole. The stitches should be taken along the line of a thread in the cloth, to keep them even.
Double the strip of cotton lengthwise, baste, and practice button-holing on the folded edge. Cut button-holes 1 inch apart in the strips for practice, and begin at the back - that is, at the end farthest from the fold - hold up the edge to be worked between the left thumb and forefinger, draw the thread through to the edge, take a stitch and pass the thread from left to right under the point of the needle, as in Illustration 34, No. 4, and draw the needle through toward you at right angles to the button-hole, then draw the thread up evenly, so that the purl will be on the edge.
Make the stitches close on the sides, curved around the front, and make a bar across the back.
Overcast the first button-holes. Overcast and cord them when some skill is acquired.
Sewing on Buttons. Knot the ends of a double thread, and put the needle through the cloth from the upper side to hide the knot under the button. Place a large pin across the button to sew over, draw the thread down loosely until the holes are filled, bring the needle through to the right side under the button, remove the pin, wind the thread several times tightly between the button and the cloth to form a shank, return the needle to the back, and fasten the thread.
To sew on a fancy button of four holes, carry the thread from each of the three holes to one hole, making that the center of three branches.
Some buttons are made with two holes through which a round, woven cord is passed. The ends of the cord are put through an eyelet in the garment and fastened at the back, or a fold of the material is stitched over them. This is done when a long shank is required.
Turn the edges of the 2x4 inch bands, double each lengthwise, baste, and overhand.
(a) Make a 1/2 inch button-hole at one end of the first band, near the folded edge, and sew a button at the other end.
Illustration 23. Button-hole in process of making.
(b) Sew a hook on one end of the second band and an eye on the other, in button-hole stitch. (See Illustration 24.)
(c) Thread-eyes are bars made of thread and button-holed. They are used to receive hooks or buttons.
Form bars for them by taking stitches to the right and to the left of a 1/4 inch space, and cover with button-hole stitches.
(d) Eyelets are round holes worked in a garment for ornament or to receive a cord. The holes are made with a bodkin or punch, or cut with scissors.
Make two eyelets, 2 inches apart at the top of the back-stitched design of Model 10 (Backstitching, Half-Backstitching, And Felling), to hold picture cord or ribbon.
Wax a double thread for sewing buttons on garments not to be washed.
Use brass hooks and eyes for wash goods. Test them with a magnet.
If the strain comes on the side of a button-hole, make a bar at both ends. The button-hole of a band should be near the gathers, to be on a line with the strain. The thread should be the size of that in the cloth, and shorter than is used in other sewing.
As button-holes require a great deal of practice, they are taught in separate classes.