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The Sewing Diaries – Week 2: Zippers and Buttonholes, Oh My!

2016 March 17

Do buttonholes and zipper installations get you feelin’ like “Where’s my Velcro stash again?” Even if they don’t make you to run in the other direction, chances are with a new machine (or an old one!) there’s something you don’t know.

Welcome to Week 2 of the Sewing Diaries: the Closures Edition. This past week I’ve been learning about how to make buttonholes and install a zipper on the Janome Skyline S7 that’s been loaned to me.  I think it’s the second most important thing to learn on a machine – unless you are a quilter, in which case I suppose it is not as vital and you could skip this week. WAIT! What am I saying? I’m a blogger and writing is my paycheck! Rephrase: “Always – Read – Every – Word!” #noskippingallowed

Disclaimer: A Skyline S7 has been loaned to me for the purpose of writing this series.  As with all products I write about, I will always tell you my own honest opinion. I purchased and loved Janome machines long before they contacted me. Janome has not asked me to qualify my opinions in any way. 

Depending on how complex your sewing machine is, there can be a learning curve to how each manufacturer has set up each process. Once you have made a a few buttonholes and installed a zipper I promise they won’t feel so foreign! I’ve included a round-up of tutorials for both buttonholes and zippers below so you can feel confident. As always, it is best to always check your manual, because machines vary so much.

Sewing Buttonholes

I started sewing my girls’ Easter dresses, which have a total of 43 1/2 yards of tulle between them! (Insane I tell you! *edit: They are finished! See the Easter Dresses here.) Anyhow, they each require two buttonholes and so this was a good opportunity to learn how to do it on the Skyline S7. The above photo has a button sewing foot in it as well – but since the buttons I picked have curved edges it wasn’t a good time to try it. I’ll have to post the process on Instagram in the future.

There are a variety of ways machines are set up to make buttonholes, and some basic models don’t have buttonhole feet as an option. I’ve had experience using a SUV1122, 2030QDC, Skyline S5 and of course the S7. My experience being limited to Janome’s (since that’s what I always purchase and love) is that these models all have a similar One-Step Automatic Buttonhole process. The thing that differs is the number of buttonhole shape options – and how you can change their sizes and how precicely they are sewn. Options range from 1 straight buttonhole option on the SUV1122 to 10+ options on the Skyline S7 depending on how you set it up. We also have a  New Home 1/2 size for my youngest without a buttonhole option. I’ve included a tutorial for machines without buttonhole feet in the roundup as well.

The Skyline S7 also has a stabilizer plate that I haven’t used before, but really enjoyed. It is used when a buttonhole is near a thick hem or other seam, to hold the area flat. I tried to compare buttonholes with and without the stabilizer plate for you. Unfortunatly, I think both of these buttonholes need the plate because the right side of the top buttonhole got a bit stuck and when I tugged on it it made some wide stitches. Oops… that’ll teach me to always use the stabilizing plate! #loveyourseamripper I re-sewed the top buttonhole and it looks great now. (Here’s a quick Instagram video of the S7 Buttonhole process.)

I’m hoping to finish the dresses (read: gather 23 1/2 yards of tulle, sew them together, repeat for a second dress… argh!) and take photos this weekend, but it snowed last year on Easter and this weekend is looking pretty chilly. I’m going to have to get creative with the location! (* edit – they are finished! See the Easter Dresses here.)

Buttonhole Tutorial Round-Up

Here are some tutorials, including a video and one that doesn’t need a buttonhole foot! Through reading these tutorials, I learned that you can use Fray Check on your buttonhole to make sure the inside threads don’t fray. #genius

Buttonhole Without a Buttonhole Foot ~ Manual 4-Step Buttonhole ~ Automatic One Step Buttonhole ~ Video, Automatic One Step Buttonhole

Sewing with a Zipper Foot

Choosing a zipper project for this week’s post was a no-brainer. I’ve been wanting to make another Cat-Eye Zippered Pouch for a while now. I had a peek at the hashtag #cateyepouch yesterday and it is so fun to see what everyone is making. I am so flattered that you all like my free pattern!

I went with the obvious and used Lizzy House Catnap cat fabric for my Cat-Eye pouch! I love the combination of this wrinkly dobby linen with the smooth quilting cotton and a bright zipper. This pouch is destined to be my Kindle cover since I think it’s my new favorite… though, they are all my favorites. Oh well – what good is it to choose anyhow!

There are so many ways to install zippers, and even different zipper types. The capabilities of the S7 far exceed what is needed for this pouch’s super-simple zipper installation. No matter what type you choose, there is a tutorial somewhere on the interwebs for it. And chances are your manual will cover off how to make it work as well. I’ve included 4 types of zipper installations in the tutorial Round-Up below.

Specifically on the S7 machine, you can choose a lapped or a concealed zipper from the LCD screen. My zip wasn’t exactly either one, so I chose the Lapped Zipper, Right Side stitch to move the needle to the correct position. LOVE not moving the needle over by eye! Of course you can set it up manually as well, the preset buttons just take the guess work out of the process. Changing the foot was simple. My Janome machines all have “Easy Change” feet – just click the foot in and out of the machine. I used to need a screwdriver and generic zipper foot with my previous SUV1122 because it’s default “easy change” zipper foot is one-sided and wider than I liked, not as convenient for sure!

Oh, and don’t forget, zipper feet are also not just for zippers. Sewing close to thicker edges and using it to install piping and pompom trim are just a few other things you can use it for.

Zipper Tutorial Round-Up

I’ve tried to narrow down this round-up to general use zipper installations. But, I couldn’t resist adding in the one on how to match your fabric, it really is easier than it looks!

Basic Zipper Installation ~ Lapped Zipper Installation ~ Invisible Zipper with Video ~ Exactly Match Fabric Across a Zipper Opening

I hope you’ve learned a lot today! I’m having fun because this series lets more of my passion for making sewing easy and accessible out into the world! Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Next Week we’ll be talking about Sewing Heavier Fabrics. I get to make an oldie (but goodie!) Follow along on social media to find out what it will be!

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Debbie Rogowski permalink
    March 18, 2016

    I’m very interested in a new machine. I’m curious with all the stitches, does the machine have a right and left position setting on it too? I like to use them for top stitching and I usually zip through and do my zipper without attachments.

    • March 19, 2016

      This machine has everything Debbie! It’s really amazing. I think there are something like 90 needle positions left to right over a 9mm stitch width, so you should not have trouble finding a left and right position for your projects. I love changing the needle position for zippers! So easy, just changing it for an invisible zip or something that really needs to be close to a thicker edge.

  2. stella permalink
    April 29, 2016

    hi, i have a janome suv1122 and i want to sew invisible zipper. could you explain what kind of zipper foots are available? is it impossible to use the Janome Zipper Foot for Horizontal Rotary Hook Models?

    thanks.

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