Buttonhole is more useful in ornament than one might expect a stitch with such a very utilitarian name to be. It is, as its common use would lead one to suppose, pre-eminently a one-edged stitch, a stitch with which to mark emphatically the outside edge of a form. There is, however, a two-edged variety known as ladder-stitch, shown in the two horn shapes on the sampler, Illustration 22 (Buttonhole Sampler).
By the use of two rows back to back, leaf forms may be fairly expressed. In the broad leaves on the sampler, the edge of the stitch is used to emphasise the mid rib, leaving a serrated edge to them. The character of the stitch would have been better preserved by working the other way about, and marking the edge of the leaves by a clear-cut line, as in the case of the solid leaves in Illustration 73 (Fine Needlework Upon Linen).
The stitch may be used for covering a ground or other broad surface, as in the pot shape (J) on the sampler, where the diaper pattern produced by its means explains itself the better for being worked in two shades of colour.
The simpler forms of the stitch are the more useful. Worked in the form of a wheel, as in the rosettes at the side of the vase shape (A), the ornamental use of the stitch is obvious.
One need hardly describe BUTTONHOLE-STITCH. The simple form of it (A) is worked by (when you have brought your needle out) keeping the thread under your thumb to the right, whilst you put the needle in again at a higher point slightly to the right, and bring it out immediately below, close to where it came out before. This and other one-edged stitches of the kind are sometimes called "blanket-stitch."
The only difference between versions such as B and C on the sampler, and simple buttonhole, is that the stitches vary in length according to the worker's fancy.
The Crossed Buttonhole-Stitch at E is worked by first making a stitch sloping to the right, and then a smaller buttonhole-stitch across this from the left.
The border marked D in sampler consists merely of two rows of slanting buttonhole-stitch worked one into the other. Needlewomen have wilful ways of making what should be upright stitches slant awkwardly in all manner of ways, with the result that they look as if they had been pulled out of the straight.
The border at F, known as "Tailor's Buttonhole," is worked with the firm edge from you, instead of towards you, as you work ordinary
To Work A
To Work E
buttonhole. Bringing the thread out at the upper edge of the work to the left, and letting it lie on that side, you put your needle in again still on the same edge, and bring it out, immediately below, on the lower one. You then, before drawing the thread quite through, put your needle into the loop from behind, and tighten it upwards.
In order to make your "Ladder-stitch" (G) square at the end, you begin by making a bar of the width the stitch is to be. Then, holding the thread under your thumb to the right, you put the needle in at the top of the bar and, slanting it towards the right, bring it out on a level with the other end of the bar somewhat to the right. This makes a triangle. With the point of your needle, pull the slanting thread out at the top, to form a square ; insert the needle; slant it again to the right; draw it out as before, and you have your second triangle.
The difference between the working of the latticelike band at H, and ladder-stitch G, is that, having completed your first triangle, you make, by means of a buttonhole-stitch, a second triangle pointing the other way, which completes a rectangular shape.
The Working Of Buttonhole Sampler
To Work F
To Work G
To Work H
In the solid work shown at J, you make five buttonhole-stitches, gathering them to a point at the base, then another five, and so on. Repeat the process, this time point upwards, and you have the first band of the pot shape.
Characteristic and most beautiful use is made of buttonhole-stitch in the piece of Indian work in Illustration 24 (Buttonhole, Chain, And Knot Stitches), where it is outlined with chain stitch, which goes most perfectly with it.
Cut work, such as that on Illustration 65 (Cut-Work In Linen), is strengthened by outlining it in buttonhole-stitch.
Ladder-stitch occurs in the cusped shapes framing certain flowers in Illustration 72 (Stitches In Combination), embroidered all in blue silk on linen. It is not infrequent in Oriental work, and, in fact, goes sometimes by the name of Cretan-stitch on that account.