Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bonnie Blue Buttons...I mean Butler!

Last we met I had stitched Bonnie’s jacket with Petite Very Velvet and left you with the promise that I had something cooking and I don’t mean no vittles. Ever have this happen? You get an idea in your head, it sounds easy enough. You gather the necessary materials are pumped up to go through with your hair-brained scheme and then PHOOM, you fall on your face! Well maybe not as dramatically as Scarlett entering a roomful of gentlemen, but you get the idea. It all started in this wonderful little shop that had adorable mother of pearl buttons for doll cloths, but they’re not the right color, but wait, I’m feeling creative, so assume I can cover them! With what? I’ll think of hat tomorrow.... well, turns out “tomorrow” is now today... so I covered the button with 13mm silk ribbon, the same color as in Bonnie’s hat, Victoria colored Pepper Pot silk ribbon. I was quite proud of myself actually it wasn’t so bad to do, but then I attach it to the canvas and as much as I want to, I can’t deny it, the scale was too big, at least I thought so (as did my closest & oldest stitching friend). They also had a high shank so they sat high off the canvas. So now I think “OK, I have crystals, I’ll just use those”. Yeah, right, they’re round and small, so as I work with them, they go flying across the room like Scarlett after one of her sister’s suitors. Plus no matter how hard I try, because they’re round, I can’t hide the mechanics of my stitches on the back, and it’s too bulky. Now I’m beyond aggravated because it’s been an entire evening of fruitless work!! But the crystals are a gorgeous matching dark blue, so I throw my hands up in despair and think they’ll just have to do. One would think the story ends there but clearly you don’t know me like you think you do, usually that is not my method of operation. So the next day after I’ve calmed down a bit and more (obsessive) thought, I decide the crystals aren’t right because it’s a riding jacket, again with the day wear rule (eye roll). So I remove the crystals and find smaller clear doll buttons. These ones are at least two millimeters smaller and don’t have a shank, so they’ll sit flush on the canvas.  

After my many failed attempts, let me tell you how I finally accomplished my task.. First you need teeny tiny doll buttons (mine were clear 5 MM buttons), a sharp needle, 13 MM or 17 MM silk ribbon (I used 13MM but you could also use a scrap of fabric but let’s not muddy things shall we) and matching thread (I used DMC floss). Cut an inch or two of ribbon and place your button right side down centered on the ribbon. With knotted thread, go through one hole of the bottom of the button, pierce the ribbon and then down through the ribbon again to go through the other hole of the button. You have to almost feel the buttonhole since you can’t see it. You are now at the bottom of the button. Now fold in the short edges of the ribbon and pierce one side of the ribbon and then the other as close to the button as you can (make sure you are not piercing the ribbon on the side of the button). Then making sure the button is relatively centered (I found this the trickiest part), twist the ribbon relatively tightly, but not so tight you mange the ribbon, twisting it up close to the bottom of the button. Then use the thread to pierce the two long lengths of twisted ribbon making 1-2 small holding stitches again as close to the button as practical. Now use the thread to wrap two times around the bottom of the button to hold the twist and put in a few stitches as close to the button as possible to securely hold everything together and close any gaps. Using sharp scissors, trim the access of ribbon as close to the stitches as possible. Important: Do not cut the thread—including the long one your needle is attached to—if you do, it’s going to unravel like a house of cards. If that happens, you HAVE to start all over again. I assure you, there will be no saving it, I’m talking from experience here....and this is how it looks after it’s been wrapped and trimmed (sorry about the photo quality).

With all the steps above you always want to pull your thread through gingerly while still keeping everything tight, any bulk is going to hold the button off the canvas. Also different brands of ribbon are different weights, and the weave/weft sometimes get pulled out of being square, even though you want it relatively tight, be kind to your ribbon so it doesn’t look like it’s been put through the ringer. 

You will now need to think about spacing your buttons. I find a good set of pins with faux peal tops is a great way to test and figure out spacing. In the photo below I was toying with the idea of a top button, I nixed that idea but it may come up again at the very end of the project, we shall see, but the point is the same, using pins is a convenient way to visualize what is going where and  save time or possible aggravation later.


Once you have your placement figured out, pierce the top of the canvas where the button to going to go, on the back of the canvas come up one canvas thread away and go through one hole of the button and back down the other (as if you were attaching a regular button) and repeat so you go through both holes twice. Now come back up to the top of the canvas under the button but not piercing the button or the ribbon and wrap underneath the button from the top 1-2 times and go back through the canvas. This will help any mechanics if you can see them. For extra security, I take a stitch through the stitching already on the back of the canvas and catch the loop like you would with hand sewing and I do this twice for good measure (or because I’m OCD — twice is always better than once in my book). These suckers are never coming off! And speaking of OCD, as you attach the other buttons keep in mind you probably want to attach them with the line between the two button holes consistently either horizontal or vertical, for a more polished look.

Now that I was able to bring my hairbrained idea to fruition, please don’t get me wrong, there were alot of failed attempt and more curse words than would be lady-like to admit, so if you try this yourself remember patience is a virtue. These will be a labor or love, but I’m sharing my saga—I mean story, — with you because I want to encourage you to try something different/new, even if you don’t know how it’s going to work out. If you can invasion it, there has to be a way to bring it to life on your canvas. Sometimes it’s that you don’t have the right materials or the right skills, but keep persevering. Go to other forms of needlework for inspiration, try different techniques, ask a stitching friend, eventually you will figure it out. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent plotting and practicing these buttons. I probably wasted an entire yard of ribbon, but in the end I’m happy with the results. To me it’s worth it because not only do I now have a new skill in my back pocket, but I also didn’t want to hate those crystals every time I looked at my canvas after it is all framed. If something doesn’t “feel right” to you, you will probably never be happy with it later. It is one thing to take some time to see if it grows on you, but before you go for finishing, if you still do not like it, take the time to change it, especially if it’s a piece you’re keeping for yourself! 

For such a little character, Bonnie sure has garnered a lot of attention — must have gotten it from her mother—but next time we’re going to get her finished up. Until then, please share this blog with your stitching friends. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving and happy stitching!