Thank you for all the compliments on my two linen shirts! They have both been worn right away and I love them, even with their backwards pleats. As promised, here’s my post on my brand new vintage Singer Buttonholer (No. 489500).
But first, I don’t know if you remember, but when I bought my Singer Featherweight, a partial buttonholer set was included in the accessories that came with my machine. It included the buttonholer itself and only one cam, the 5/8th, already inside, but that was it. No feed cover plate, no screw to attach the buttonholer and none of the other cams. It did come with the instruction booklet though. This model (No. 160743) matches my machine with it’s black paint and is more svelte than the buttonholer above, but it takes the same size cams.
Here’s a side by side comparison…
Besides the difference in size, I noticed the following between the two models:
The white plastic model is harder to attach to my machine (probably due to size?) than the black metal model. And look at how close the cloth clamp is to the feed cover plate. It’s really hard to position your work without “chewing” up the fabric. More on that later.
The black metal model makes a much more consistent buttonhole than the white plastic model. It’s not as evident on the smaller size buttonhole in this picture, but when you see it made on a large size cam, the inconsistencies of the zigzag on the white plastic model are really pronounced. Both are produced by going around the buttonhole twice.
The cloth clamp (the part with the white notches) on the white plastic version is much more rough on the bottom than the black metal model. The purpose for that finish on the bottom of the clamp is to grip the fabric solidly while the attachment moves it back and forth enabling my straight stitch Featherweight to make a zigzag stitch. Obviously, it needs to grip the fabric adequately to accomplish its purpose, but does it need to chew the fabric as you place your garment into position? There were parts of my shirt that I needed to hammer to get it thin enough to position in the right place. With 6 fabric thicknesses, two of them interfaced, at the collar and stand join, it was impossible to get my collar into position with the white plastic model without hammering the collar stand first.
Above you can see how the fabric has been manhandled. I think, but am not sure, since I didn’t use it on either of shirts, that the black metal model is higher off the feed cover plate, thereby making it easier to place your work under the attachment. It’s smoother cloth clamp surface also means that your fabric is less likely to be manhandled during the process.
I wish I had thought to try out the black metal buttonholer when I was constructing my shirts. Hindsight is 20/20, huh? I am still satisfied with my buttonholes though. They are perfectly serviceable and I doubt that anyone will look at them as closely as I do. (Well, except for Alexia maybe, as she noticed my backwards pleats straight off.)
Here are my two buttonholer instruction booklets side by side. On the black metal model, there is a handwritten note inside which reads, “Lay Tissue paper on material, set, then pull paper out. Or wrap paper around edge of material & etc. Thin knit go around 3 times.” I wonder if this was to prevent fabric chewing?
Note how the white plastic model’s instructions say that it is intended for use on Singer family sewing machines “without [requiring] any special skill on the part of the operator.” That is so funny! I wonder if they meant that to be supercilious in tone. The black metal model’s booklet says that it is designed for use on the Class 301 family sewing machines. My machine is a 221 class. Hmmm… It still works on my Featherweight 221. And I like it’s buttonholes better. Peter, do you want to chime in here with any info you may have between the two models?
So, in closing, I am happy that I have two buttonholers. I have a lot of different size cams, although I am missing the eyelet cam. I can now make buttonholes easily and quickly without any of the problems I always had with my Husqvarna buttonholer. What a piece of crap that was. I almost want to throw it out in disgust.
Let me know if you have any questions about my buttonholers. I would be happy to answer them.