So in my last post I introduced you to handworked buttonholes. I promised I would show you the Milanese version so here it is.
The Milanese is more decorative, usually applied to the lapel and whilst the general technique is the same, there are a few differences in construction. What makes the Milanese stand out, is well…. it stands out! The buttonhole sits above the cloth, is very narrow and often made in a contrasting colour thread.
The equipment and materials needed are the same for a ‘normal’ buttonhole so begin by preparing your buttonhole twist thread (wax and heat), cut a length of gimp (or 4 cord) and mark the buttonhole position.
Baste around the buttonhole after marking then sew the buttonhole shape. Cut the buttonhole open, carefully. Note a Milanese is not a ‘keyhole’ but a rounded end buttonhole. Sew the shape approx 2mm from centre. You will notice the ’rounded’ end extends just past the front of the buttonhole.
As I said the technique is the same as making a ‘normal’ buttonhole but with a few differences. I will highlight them in RED throughout. The bar tack (at the ‘back’ of the buttonhole) is made AFTER making the Milanese.
- Start by making a couple of stitches to hold the buttonhole twist and come out in the corner on the side you will work first.
2. Turn the work so rear of buttonhole is nearest you. Make the first buttonhole stitch into the corner. Go in through the buttonhole opening, leaving the needle half way through….
3. wrap the ends of buttonhole twist (coming from needle eye) clockwise under the needle.
4. Pull through but leave the buttonhole stitch open a little.
5. Insert Gimp (or 4 cord) into opening. Leave about 1cm longer.
6. Pull the buttonhole stitch up and tight. This holds the Gimp in place.
7. Take the needle and pass back UNDER the Gimp, just in front of the last stitch.
8. Wrap the thread around the Gimp and back towards the buttonhole opening (ready for next buttonhole stitch). Pull up and towards the back of the buttonhole. This will pull the Gimp up on top of the buttonhole stitch knot.
9. Make the next buttonhole stitch (close to first) but DO NOT GO UNDER (to the left) of the Gimp! Keep the gimp pulled away from the buttonhole. The needle should come out before the Gimp.
10. Make stitch (pull up tight) and wrap around the Gimp as before. The thread that wraps around the Gimp should lie next to the previous wrap. DO NOT pull the Gimp up and flush (as we did on a normal buttonhole) but leave the extra at the back.
11. Continue this pattern up towards the rounded end: Buttonhole stitch, pull tight; wrap around Gimp…..As you work along you will see how the Gimp is pulled up onto the buttonhole stitch and right next to the opening.
12. For the rounded end, continue the same stitch but fan them out slightly as you go. Rotate the work as you go around and keep the thread that wraps around the gimp even.
13. Continue down the other side towards the back. You will notice, as you work, how close together the sides become.
14. Work all the way to the end (make sure the last stitch is in line with the first stitch). Wrap around Gimp one final time and take the needle across and down at the starting point.
15. Make 3 stitches to start the bar tack. Pull them tight so the ends of the Gimp are touching. Cut the Gimp flush.
16. Make 1 more stitch to ensure the Gimp is covered. Turn the work 90 degrees and sew over the bar tack (as you do for a normal buttonhole) to complete.
17. Take thread through to back and secure with a few backstitches. Cut off and trim the tails from the first stitches you made. Note I have now removed the ‘guide’ stitches.
18. Unlike a normal buttonhole, DO NOT press. Instead push the buttonhole into shape with your fingers making sure the side touch. Finish by basting closed.
There you go. Now you know how to make both a normal and Milanese buttonhole. After a little practice you get into a rhythm and will certainly produced good examples. So why not have a go?
**NOTE: If you are Left handed the procedure is a mirror image**
Until next time…….Happy Sewing!