Buttonholes, I aim for odd…

You know.. I was born on a Tuesday. So was my son… They say Tuesday’s baby is full of grace..

When I first began designing, I really had no idea what I was doing, and dove in blind. Now, with the last 3 years behind me (this year, I think will be my 4th?) I have learned so much. I think also getting published, during that 6 mos of nonstop working up patterns for publication companies, I learned much much more. There are so many different ways to write up patterns, and now, after reviewing my old style, and then all the styles of each company (each has their own guidelines), I now can say I have found my own little voice of style of writing. I do not know if that makes sense, but I now have a good sense, even during the designing process, of how one little detail change could have a minor affect on a pattern outcome, but a big impact on the length and complexity of the written word.

For example, I like to make my buttonholes within the pattern as I go, not afterwards making a buttonband. Well, because I work my patterns from the top down, and with a no seam sewing style, it pays to have an odd number of rows between each buttonhole. So let’s say I am working the panel with the buttonholes. And Let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2. The buttonhole let’s say is at the end of the row. So, if I have a buttonhole on Row 6 (3 rows in between, an odd number), I can simply say repeat Row 2. If my buttonhole is on Row 3, I would put another say on Row 7 (that leaves 3 rows in between, an odd number), which again would save space and complexity. Now let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2 (the initial example), and I decided to have one every 5 rows, so the next one would occur on Row 7. What happens? I have to write a new row, because we are working on the other side, the buttonhole would have to be at the beginning of the row in order to not end up on the side of the panel that contains the underarm! That means a whole instruction written up.

So then, I would have:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Rows 6-13: Rep Rows 2-5 twice.

Not having an odd number of rows between each button hole row would yield:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Row 6: “work button hole, instructions”

Rows 7-9: Rep Row 1.

Rows 10-13: Rep Rows 2-5.

So, the second version added 2 rows. Not that big of a deal, but that could domino affect with the more complex a pattern is…. and this is the bare bones… In different situations, such as when you have arm shaping on some rows, and no arm shaping on other rows, you could end up writing out each and every line individually, which would make for a much longer pattern than it would need to be.

And then, take into consideration sizes! Armholes are different for different sizes, so one will have more rows in a larger size than a smaller size. What to do with the button holes? Well, we want all sizes to have the buttons on odd numbered rows or even numbered rows. Just think, if we didn’t. Try sketching out. Draw (stick drawings- remember I’m no artist). Use graph paper if you can. And make oh say 15 rows for one size and 19 rows for another size. Then “plot” out where your buttons will be. Then think, where you place the button holes, and how they will affect the pattern text.

So when designing, I tend to think ahead of how what I am doing will affect the write up. And then I evaluate, would it be that big of an impact to say, do an increase here, or a buttonhole there, yada yada, for sake of making the pattern shorter? Will it have a negative impact on the output of the project? If no, then I work the pattern to have the writing be as simple to follow as possible, and as short as possible, without sacrificing clarity.

So, a lot of these little things I have picked up along the way as I learn more and more. I have a little hand side spiral notebook, that I keep all these little “ureka” moments in… Then when I am starting to design a pattern, and begin working it up, I am mentally working forward and backwards at the same time. Are you exhausted yet? lol, maybe I think too much? Anyway, I thought I would share one of my quirks when designing. Maybe I am doing everything not backwards and forwards, but inside out! Maybe there are easier ways, but the logic is all the same.. or well, the desired outcome is all the same.

Now, this is only one way of designing a pattern- from the top down using panels.. which is my primary way of designing, without seam sewing. There are so many other ways, and this technique would not really even apply. Some patterns are designed to be worked sideways… Some from the top down, but each piece is made separately then sewn together. Some work the button hole band after the garment is made.. But, I do believe thinking ahead, and how the design will affect the text, can be beneficial to any designer when designing.

Time for dinner!

2 thoughts on “Buttonholes, I aim for odd…”

  1. Well, whether it is frontwards or backwards or even inside-out, whatever style you are using is working beautifully. My brain just runs into a brick wall when I try to think of designing a pattern. I will leave the design work and pattern writing up to you. I’ll just enjoy testing and working up your wonderful patterns. Thank you for letting me be a part of all of this.


  2. Dear Lisa,

    Thanks for the update! I’ve been trying to get to your shop, but for some reason it won’t load. I’ll keep trying! I can’t wait to see the new look!


Leave a Reply