Monday, July 20, 2009

Singer Buttonholer, Part Deux

I was planning to try it eventually, but a note on the PatternReview message boards this morning motivated me to hook up a buttonholer to my Viking D1 to see how we fared. Here are the results:

The red side is the front. The khaki is the back. That's 2 layers of cotton plus two layers of medium weight denim, just for kicks.

When I first posted about my new-to-me Singer buttonholer, I had just the one. Since then, I've bid on and won a few Ebay auctions for groups of cheap miscellanous sewing stuff. As a result, I now have three — yes three!! — of these things. Two are in great shape as is, and one needs a bit of cleaning up. But it still works just fine. It's what made those buttonholes above.

I first tried the attachment I've had set up on my Kenmore but the "claw" was just a smidge too narrow to fit over my Viking's needle screw. On a whim, I tried the other buttonholer … and it fit. The claw is circled in the photo below. You can also see the dust and dirt on this buttonholer.

The screw that comes with these Singer buttonholers is too big for the hole in my Viking presser foot bar, but since I already have the Viking ankle screw I just used that instead. Not really any brain effort involved there. The Viking screw is circled in the photo below and works perfectly.

Below are the two buttonholers claw-to-claw. The bigger (and dirtier) claw is to the left. You can see that there's hardly any difference. I'm certain you could easily use needlenose pliers to spread the claw a smidge if needed. Since my experiment and photos this morning, the 3rd buttonholer arrived in today's mail and it has the bigger claw spread too, so maybe my narrower claw is the fluke and not the other way around. I just don't know.

My "keeper" is the buttonholer on top in the photo below. The "dirty" buttonholer is on the bottom. The paint is a little scratched, but the rest of it will clean up just fine with a few Q-tips and some sewing machine oil.

The "dirty" one arrived in the dark box below, with extra templates in a black pouch. I think it's an older version than the one in the green box. Anyone?


  1. How neat that you got the buttonholer to fit on your D1! Something must be in the air because on the weekend I re-engineered two attachments for my Bernina serger to make them fit.

  2. Congratulations on your wins. That's awesome that you got it to fit.

  3. I had to wonder--does your Kenmore do a good job with your new finds? Because wouldn't it be SO COOL to have a machine set up JUST FOR BUTTONHOLES. Almost like a little factory-- machine, serger, coverstitch, buttonholer...
    I have often thought about getting my White Superlock 534 repaired so i can have a 3 thread narrow stitch serger and a 4 thread wide stitch serger set up--only have to change the thread colors. wink wink--good thing you NEED all those machines and accesories! Really, you do!

  4. To add more to your mystery, my mother had a Singer buttonholer. It, too, came in a green box, but it looked like your "dirty" one. She probably got the buttonholer in the middle 50's. She and I used it up until the 80's when she sold that machine with all of the attatchements.
    Tracy C

  5. I just put in a bid on one on Ebay for one that is supposed to be for a straight zig zag, has a lot of templates.
    We'll see how it goes.
    I am planning to finally make jeans, after collecting several patterns. I remembered that you had made a muslin of J Sterns jeans and I wondered if you had ever finished a pair or if they had not worked out. I don't remember seeing a post.

  6. Hi Debbie,
    I can usually tell by the case what era the buttonholers come from. My oldest, which doesn't use templates but a setting on the side for L and W and "bight" width came in a cardboard or pasteboard box. It is from the era when most were used on a treadle. The next grouping I have come in a textured (pabble-y) surface green or burgundy (slant needle) with a snap closure on the side. The newest ones that I have, come in what's known as the "Jetson" case - mint green for the standard and pink for the slant needle. I'm sure you can also tell by the buttonholer itself, but my first estimate is based on the box.
    BTW you will see lots of funny names for these on ebay because there are people selling them that don't have a clue. I once saw one listed as a "miniature Featherweight sewing machine" LOL. Many vendors now know if they put the word "Featherweight" anywhere in their listing, they will get more hits. So you will see featherweight irons, featherweight hem gauges etc. etc. They are getting more careful at their wording so as not to be caught giving false info but once the word is in the listing it draws hits. Keep watching for a ruffler - that's a cool attachment.

  7. It must be a good week for finding attachments. I just blogged about my own find and popped over to see how the treadling was coming along. I'll post a picture of the old buttonholer with the side adjustments tomorrow on my blog.

  8. I have one stored that is in a tweed like cardboard box that I believe my mother bought in the 1950's. I will have to get it down and check it out. My daughter's tiny pfaff she got for Christmas when she was 6 (she is now 30) recently returned here to live for a while. Maybe it could be a buttonhole machine ? It is the size of a featherweight. I was told it was made by pfaff for people to carry in their rvs when it came out. I love all the neat things you show us on here with the vintage machines. Now if I could just sew something that needed buttonholes. mssewcrazy

  9. I so appreciate your sending me the directions for the buttonholer. I wanted to try it last weekend, but my daughter's birthday sewing got in the way (celebration is tonight = whew!). I love your new Jalie top, too; it's so pretty!

  10. This is really interesting, but I'm a little confused as to which sewing machines these will work with. I have a Janome high shank machine (6600P) and a New Home low shank machine (New Home 4000). Would any of these buttonholers work with either of these machines?

    I'm struggling with making buttonholes on my fancy new 6600P, and was baffled as to why the 20 or so small buttonholes on the front of a dress that I made 25 years ago on my trusty old Singer were so stress-free. Could it be that the older machines, which their clunky attachments, just made better buttonholes? I'd like to think so.


Thank you for each and every comment. I appreciate them all, but I have to be honest and let you know that I'm usually bad about answering questions. I hope you understand that there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

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