Thursday, April 21, 2011

Making a Sweater Coat Part 12 Sewing Buttons and Loops and the Finished Coat

In writing this, my last entry of 12 about this sweater coat,  I notice that I didn’t start sewing until Part 6.  It confirms my suspicion that there’s a lot more to sewing clothing than threading a needle and taking stitches.  If you’ve made it this far, you probably want to see the coat first and hear about the buttons later.  Alas, with no more pomp or circumstance, here is the finished coat.  Front…

Fasteners still confuse me.  I often put off thinking about them until the end, and then I get stuck.  This time was no exception.  There are just too many options, and I’m never sure which one is the best.  I’ll limit this to what I might do next time if I have the wherewithal to plan ahead, and what I did.

First, if I overlap the front too much to close the coat, the design won’t be symmetric.  Too bad.  I should have used a vertical band or two down the two front lapels, long vertical stripes.  I had sketched designs with such lapels early, but I rejected them because I knew I couldn’t cut them in a single piece.  I realize now that I should have just pieced them out of a single color.  If I make another sweater coat, I think I will use vertical patching down the center front and move the diamonds out a bit.

I also realize that a zipper closure would be nice.  But I never seem to find nice heavy-duty zippers for sale.  I don’t know as much about zippers as I’d like.  What’s your favorite type of zippor?  Anyways, adding a zipper would require ripping the whole front seams open, and I don’t want to do that.  So, I decide to use buttons with loops.

Making button holes freaks me out.  I have holephobia.  If my sewing machine screws up a button hole, things get ugly.  If that’s not enough, cutting holes in the front of a project that took me weeks to complete is just too much anxiety.  It feels like if I screw up now, I’ve wasted so much time and I won’t be able to fix it.  Instead of button holes, I prefer fabric loops, and I have a few large scraps of fabric left to make a set of matching loops.  So, I pin the front of the coat to mark 4 buttons and loops.
I choose big shiny black buttons from my Grandmom’s button box.  I have three large ones, and a smaller one that I’ll use right at the top.  To make the loops, I start by sewing a strip 1 ¾ inches wide using a 4 thread overlock stitch.  I use thick dark blue fabric because I like the color, and with a little effort, I get the tube to turn.    It’s way too thick for the buttons.  The tube is thicker than the shanks are high.  Fortunately, I have enough of a thinner black fabric so I use that instead.  I sew my tubes from strips 1 5/8 inches wide and 5 inches long.  After turning, I stretch them on my ironing board with two pins on each end, and I press them with tons of steam, more steam than pressing, to get the stretch out. 
Through the hole in the side seam, I pull out the front edge seam between the front and front facing.  I cut open the seams where my 4 pins are, and poke a loop through each hole. Here are two done, two to go.
I flip the coat and pin the loops into position, checking that the loops are the right size for the buttons.  Flip again through the hole in the lining, repin, and sew the loops into place on my regular sewing machine… forwards, backwards, forwards backwards, through the seam allowance.  These puppies aren’t going anywhere.

I attach the buttons with smaller buttons on the inside to distribute the force and prevent the fabric from puckering later.  I use nylon thread and 3 or 4 knots per hole.   I sew up the hole in the lining, and add my tag.  Stop and admire my work. It’s really done!  And it fits like a dream!  Next project?  Definitely something quick and easy, maybe a skirt.  Thanks for playing.


  1. Girl, this is fantastic. I enjoyed the process (since it wasn't me doing the work! :- ) ) But the end result is just fabulous!!! You are an inspiration!

  2. Thank you so much Chelsea. I'm so glad it's finally done.

  3. It is exquisite. The colors are great, the the layout of the colors enhances the color choices. The fit is wonderful. It looks soft, and just screams to be worn on a damp cold day.

    I like the diamond pattern- to me it is retro.

    I would like to see it in a solid color too (yes too! I really like the diamonds)- my eye sees the detail of the diamonds and not the long seams that make it fit so nicely.

    Oh, and I see your hands in your pockets- I hope that choice works out well for you.

    This was a fascinating process. Now I am curious if you go through that many iterations when you are creating a new beaded bead.

    Thanks for taking me on the journey with you.

  4. Dear KJ,
    Thank you so much for joining me in this process. Your comments helped motivate me to continue blogging about what I was doing. I'm glad you like it.

    I've always like diamonds or harlequin designs. There's something classic and at the same time whimsical about them. I don't know that I'll be making this pattern in a solid color any time soon. I really enjoyed working with the sweater fabrics, so thick and luxurious. It would be difficult to find such nice fabric on a bolt, and out of my price range, I imagine, once I found it.

    As for beaded beads, sometimes I get lucky and find a good design in a single day, but usually it takes me at least 3 iterations before I get it how I like it, often more. I figure, there's no point in making art unless it's well designed, well constructed, and beautiful.

    Thanks again KJ. I hope you won't disappear now that this project is over ;)

  5. Wow! I can't believe it is finished! Turned out great Gwen and I think the button loop idea is stellar!

  6. This is just Fan-Fu--ing-Tas-Tic!!! I'm very what else do you do, you amazing woman????

  7. Fantastic. Maybe some day I'll get back to sewing clothes. You are certainly an inspiration.

  8. Fantastic design, looks great on - love this coat!

  9. Mandy, you and me both. I'm glad you like the loops. I'm pretty happy with them, too.

    ShoesZan, fu--ing thank you. What else do I do? Well, how do you expect me to answer that? To find out, I guess you'll just have to keep reading.

    Pricilla, I'd love to see what kind of clothes you could make with your mad quilting skills.

    BeadSire, thanks for your kind comments. It feels just as good on as it looks, maybe better.

  10. I had you on RSS feed long before I became a follower. I am not about to disappear.

  11. I forwarded the link to this post to my mom. She said she can't imagine how much work went into the coat. She also said "Beautiful."

  12. Yes, it was a lot of work, but sometimes I like having a big project to focus my attention on. If I do too many small projects for weeks on end, I start running out of ideas of what to do. So I go back and forth. Surely, though, in this case, the blogging stretched it out a lot longer. In all, this series on the coat is something like 18 pages of text, not including the photos.

    Thanks for relaying Mom's feedback :) Tell here I say thanks.

  13. thank you for doing this tutorial, i needed to make a more laid back "Technicolor Dream Coat" and this is just the perfect thing!

  14. WOW. This is REALLY awesome and inspirational!! Really impressive work!


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