Buttonhole edging and a new release

Well, when I say “a new release” I am being a little bit premature. The stitching has been done, the stitching has been finished in a useful and (I hope) attractive way, everything has been photographed – now I just need to write the chart pack, which includes drawing diagrams for turning inside and outside corners in buttonhole edging. Let’s say I hope to have it finished some time this week. Or month.

The design in question is Art of the Needle, three small buttonhole-edged patches created specifically to decorate the little foam purses I bought a while ago. (I’m about to start stitching another set of small designs, Three of Diamonds, to go on the notebooks.) Working the buttonhole border was actually less boring and time-consuming than I remembered – it was quite relaxing, and once I’d got into a rhythm, fairly quick too.

The challenge was always going to be cutting the designs free from their surrounding fabric. After all that Hardanger, cutting really should hold no terrors for me, but cutting next to Kloster blocks you can see what you’re doing; cutting as close as possible to a buttonhole edge your scissors are half-hidden! I knew I could do it though, as some time ago I designed and stitched a tray cloth for my mother-in-law’s dolls’ house, which meant cutting around a buttonhole edge stitched on 60ct silk gauze, and that held, as did my practice piece on 36ct evenweave (on my finger tip, below), so I told myself not to be a wimp and get on with it.

Buttonhole-edged tray cloth Buttonhole edging test piece

The first thing to do is to pull out the fabric threads that run closest along the line of buttonhole edging. This gives you and your scissors something to aim for.

Pull the nearest thread along the line of buttonhole stitching

When you then fold the fabric away from the little “tramline” that’s been formed, you can see the buttonhole edge sticking out beyond where you’ll be cutting. This is a reassuring sight. Yes, it means that, as I said, your scissors are half-hidden by the overlap, but crucially it also means that you don’t actually have to cut dangerously close to your stitching, as any small cut ends will be covered by the overhang!

The buttonhole edge overhang

If the buttonhole edging is square, that’s all there is to it (apart from a little bit of extra trimming around those rounded corners). But what if the edge is scalloped or stepped or whatever you call it? Obviously you can’t just pull out the thread nearest to the edging. (Slight digression – actually, if you’re not careful, you can. On one of the Art of the Needle designs I pulled too firmly on a thread that should have ended in a corner, and pulled it out completely, leaving a small “tramline” within the design. Fortunately it was almost completely covered up by some French knots.) Back to the way things ought to go: pull the relevant threads loose up to the buttonhole edging (see below), then cut them close, and do the rest of the cutting as before.

Removing threads to create cutting guides for the corners

Having done the first of the three patches as described above, I then tried pulling all necessary threads (the long ones along the outer edges, and the short, partial ones along the stepped corners) before doing any cutting, and then simply cutting all the way round, including trimming the rounded corners. This worked well and was definitely quicker, although it is also made it easier to nick stitches while going round corners; you can’t tell now, but the largest patch did need a tiny bit of glue to repair one of the corner stitches …

Another thing to remember is to check the back of your buttonhole edging every now and again while stitching. Somehow (and I’m still not quite sure how) I’d managed to move from one stitch to the next by means of a tiny stitch over one fabric thread – imagine stitching a Kloster block and not doing all stitches in the same direction, but doing the first top-to-bottom, then the next bottom-to-top. This, of course, would have come undone when the fabric next to it was cut, so before cutting I secured it with a few discreet stitches on the back of the work. Don’t tell anyone.

So after all that (and the discovery that I miscounted and two orange double cross stitches are one thread out) here are the three patches, cut from their surrounding fabric and then sewn onto three foam purses with running stitch to make a set of attractive project pouches (just right for keeping the threads, beads and ribbons for individual projects separate).

Three Art of the Needle patches Art of the Needle sewn onto project pouches

Art of the Needle is now available on the website

Leave a comment or ask a question