Buttons, buttons, buttons

I’ve got buttons on the brain right now after sorting my grandmother’s collection. I feel very well-acquainted with the variations found in buttons – two holes, four, shank, no shank – having stared at them for so many hours! I suppose it only makes sense I would feel inspired to draw them as well.

crabandbee.com | button illustration by crab&bee

I also finished an unfinished buttoned blouse I started in September. I had found some silk – washed silk, I believe – secondhand at the fabric stash shop and thought it would make up beautifully as a soft blouse. (Sidenote: doesn’t secondhand silk sound tawdry ??)

I used a pattern that I had first tried during Me-Made-May 2012 in  a stiff stretch cotton (Day 10 in this post) and again in stiff cotton from a thrifted sheet (Day 22 here). Needless to say, the drape of the silk suited the boxy shape of the blouse much better! The pattern calls for bias-bound armholes, which is the point in the project where I abandoned it. Even though I’d been able to sew the silk well enough up until that point, I developed a fear of cutting out the bias strips.

crabandbee.com | Burda sleeveless blouse

The blouse sat unfinished until I got so desperate to do some garment sewing during the quilt-making process that I decided to go for it. I think cutting was the most difficult part; sewing the binding on wasn’t too difficult. The only issue – and I don’t think this was necessarily because of the silk – is that the  placket area is pooling above the hem. I’m going to try to fix this – any tips?

I really wanted to use some of my grandma’s buttons for the placket, but none of them had quite the right size or weight for the fabric. I used some thin shell buttons, also purchased at the stash shop.

Speaking of my grandmother’s buttons, here are the giveaway winners! If you’ve won a set, you should have an email from me in your inbox. Just let me know where you’d like the buttons sent within a week!

Thank you to everyone who shared  a favorite family heirloom in the comments section!


38 thoughts on “Buttons, buttons, buttons

  1. Thank you so much for giving these valuable pieces of (sewing) history a new home. I know they are just buttons, but to me, I imagine where they came from and how they were used. I’m not sure what i will make with them, but know that they will have a special place in my collection along with my Mother’s button collection. I appreciate your generosity in sharing your treasures! Thank you ( I won the Creams and Tans!) (good button likenesses BTW!)

  2. Yay for grandma’s buttons. I was very fortunate to be given my great grandma’s large jar of buttons and I love, love, love them. I may kind of hoard them…so you are awfully generous to give yours away! And your silk blouse is beautiful!

  3. Oooh I like this top – those shoulders are so interesting, and I definitely agree the silk suits this pattern perfectly! And yay I won buttons!!! I cannot wait to use them on something special 🙂 THANK YOU!

  4. I’m not sure how to fix the pooling you mention, but I’m pretty sure no-one but sewists would notice it (and that on extremely close inspection)! I looked at your photo and thought, “great shirt, great colour, perfect buttons” – didn’t notice any pooling!

    1. Thanks, Philippa! I’m glad the pooling isn’t tooo noticeable – it’s not quite as bad in real life as in the photos but it still bugs me a bit now that I’ve noticed!

  5. Cutting silk on the bias is definitely something that gives me nerves! I’m not sure if the buttons you’ve used are multi-faceted and so appear multi-hued, or indeed are actually different colours – but I love the effect against the sleekness of your blouse 🙂

    1. Thanks, Melanie! It’s heartening to hear that someone who deals with the fancy fabrics more than I do still gets nervous about cutting into silk on the bias. The buttons are all shell, but the colors are different based on what part of the shell they’re from!

  6. Your blouse looks lovely! The silk suits this style perfectly and I would also stall at bias cut silk strips! I didn’t even notice the placket pooling, I don’t think that’s a problem at all!

    Haven’t had a chance to comment about your button windfall, but obviously agree that it was awesome! You’re very lucky! I don’t have any family heirlooms on my side of the family but we do have a child’s kimono from my husband’s family for the shichigosan festival that has been worn by the girl’s in his family!

    Loved your quilt also! I also like Japanese literature – as well as Murakami, I like Banana Yoshimoto, ‘Fires on the Plain’ Shohei Ooka, Junichiro Tanazaki and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to finish ‘Black Rain’ Masuji Ibuse, it’s just too disturbing!

    How’s the coat coming along? I’ve abandoned mine for the time being!

    1. I just got back into my coat project tonight – thank you for the reminder! I’m trying out another collar style and fixed the bust. I have been sidetracked by the quilt and some gifty sewing but would like to keep making a little progress each week. I’ve read a bit of Banana Yoshimoto, but it was so long ago! I’ll keep an eye out for books by the other authors you mentioned as well.

  7. Wow, this is so beautiful! I really like this pattern, and I like it even more in silk! Absolutely lovely! As far as the pooling issue goes, maybe try unpicking it and repinning it while it hangs on your dressform or a hanger (rather than flat)?

    1. YES I think having it hang while I pin is the key. I kept it very flat when I pinned, hoping to avoid this problem, and it still got wonky. Thanks, Sonja!

  8. Love your new blouse – good for you for finishing it because it looks great. And, thanks so much for the giveaway! Can’t wait to use the buttons on something lovely.

  9. I love this blouse! Shoulder details like this just send me swooning. And silk is definitely the way to go! As far as your pooling placket, perhaps you can just unpick that area and readjust the length so they lay flat?

  10. That blouse is gorgeous in silk! I love pleated shoulder details, and I’ve been hoping a similar indie pattern would come out since I’m not brave enough to tackle the huge amounts of ease and lack of instructions in regular patterns. I can’t wait to see what you do with your “new” buttons – such a meaningful heirloom.

    1. Thanks, Chantal! I’ve actually found that Burda patterns fit reasonably well, although they barely have instructions! I spent a good amount of time puzzling through the ones for this blouse when I first tried it. This technique doesn’t solve for the bad instructions, but I always, always look at finished garment measurements instead of picking a size based on body measurements. It’s helped me avoid a lot of that insane ease.

      1. Good to know! Maybe I’ll attempt that pattern when I feel more confident in my sewing skills 🙂

  11. This blouse is really classy and looks great on you! I love how the shell buttons are all different colors, but all match the silk really well. Great job, your bravery paid off. 🙂

  12. (Little side note: I just LOVE clicking through your blog and look at your awesome projects! And basically taking note of all your pattern choices, because of your perfect style!)

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