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Coat Cravings: Fari Coat: First Week Progress Part 2: Amazing Spanish Snap Buttonholes

If you missed Part 1 of my first week progress you can read about it HERE. But make sure you come right back...My buttonhole journey is a tragedy with a happy ending!
My first project to have bound buttonholes. Can you believe at
the time of making, I didn't think they were "good enough"?!

My Bound Buttonhole Tragedy

Bound buttonholes are truly art; I adore them. I knew immediately that I wanted bound buttonholes for the three buttons on the Fari Coat. One on each of the sleeve tabs and one on the collar. The sleeve tabs are made pretty early in the construction process, so I eagerly jumped right in and spent a day and a half marking and crafting my buttonholes. 

The pattern does not have the buttonholes marked on the tab pattern piece, so I was careful in marking the seam allowances and placing the mark in just the right spot...or so I thought... I followed the advice of this Colette tutorial as it worked so well for me when I made my Lumber Jackie O Coat several years ago. (By the way, Lumber Jackie O is the very first coat I ever made, back in 2013. I still wear her pretty much daily every winter. Even beginners can make a good coat!!)

I stitched so very carefully and felt quite pleased with how the whole process was going.

Do you think they look good? Me too. I proceeded to the next steps of slicing and turning and securing. That's when Doubt made her appearance. That's an awful lot of wool to stuff inside the point of a tab. Still, I carried on. Frankenstein stitching the lips to secure them while I finished stitching and turning.

Still looking OK. Nothing a healthy steam press and a wooden clapper can't fix.

Next was folding right sides in, stitching and turning right side out. And here is the monster that was born:

Far too large for the button. 

I could probably make it look passable with some serious pressing and hand stitching around the edges of the lips and window in the back, but I'd already invested so much time and effort....And then, to point out the elephant in the room: The holes are no where close to being centered! There's no room at all for top stitching. Completely unusable. 

After carrying on and on about my bound buttonholes in the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests group, I had to return to them and express my less than satisfying results and my disappointment that I would be resigned to making machine worked buttonholes. (Which I so suck making. You remember this, right?)

I should have known the sewers in my group would have a solution...the members are an incredible source of knowledge and encouragement. One member, on the other side of the world from me in New Zealand, asked a simple question: "Have you tried Spanish Snap Buttonholes? Similar look to bound, but with less bulk," She commented. 
No, I've never heard of such a technique. With new hope, I clicked on the tutorial link she provided. I read it through and was in love with the idea! Spanish Snap Buttonholes are not lippy like bound buttonholes, but they are so much simpler and still offer a high-end, hand crafted look that is levels above machine stitched buttonholes. I'll show you how I did mine, and then I'll share the link with you.


Testing Out Spanish Snap Buttonholes

  • Use a piece of cardboard or card stock to make a template.
  • Make a 2x3 inch rectangle
  • Round the edges to make an oval
  • Find the center point. Draw the lines all the way to the edge, as it can help you line up properly later in the process.
  • Mark your buttonhole evenly on center. Mine is a total of 1 inch long (1/2 on each side of center) and then mark 1/8 inch on either side of center in the other direction. Draw yourself a small, not too pointy oval.

  • Find the true bias of your fabric. This is very important for everything to fold over properly.
  • Mark the bias with a nice long line
  • Use your template to make as many ovals as you will need for your buttonholes. Cut a couple extra for samples and tests.
  • While you are at it, cut a few out of some light weight FUSIBLE interfacing.

  • Draw your eyes on the back side of the fabric ovals and on the glue side of your interfacing ovals.
  • Make sure you've marked your buttonhole on the project. 
  • Pin your oval on top so that the buttonhole markings are lined up. 
  • Stitch your eyes using a super tiny stitch length. I used 1.5 on my machine.
  • Make sure you stitch all the way to the edges of your marking or your buttonhole will be too small. I marked my edges with a pin so I could see when I was at the right spot.

  • Take some very sharp, very small snips and clip through both layers of the fabric. All the way to the very corner, but without snipping through your stitches.
  • Stuff your oval through that little slit, just like you would your bound buttonhole lips. 
  • When you've got the fabric pushed through, flip the the project over.
  • Pinch the long edges of your oval on each side and give it a healthy tug.


No, seriously. 

Everything will settle into place. 
You can fiddle with it a smidge to smooth it just as you like, then press it flat.

Now for the REAL Thing

Using all the same steps I outlined above, I went to work on a set of newly cut and interfaced sleeve tabs. I marked the buttonhole on both the front and back of the tab. Because the tab is one piece that gets sewn inside out, then turned, both slits had to be done while open. 

The facing side of the buttonhole is just as easy as the front. Everything is exactly the same, except that you use a piece of fusible interfacing in place of the fabric, glue side up. Turn the oval in and manipulate the piece to "roll" the seam line to the inside. It's really pretty easy. I just worked one long side, then tacked it with a dab of a hot iron. Then I manipulated the other long side and dabbed it too. Next, you can pull your one oval tip taught and work your way from one tip of the oval to the other with your iron. Once everything is in place, you can press it full-on with steam and seal it up.

For this particular project, I'm working with a point, so I marked my seam allowances  and trimmed my oval accordingly. I also stitched my oval in place right around the slit and stitched the slit closed. This was my own doing, as I did have a bit of shifting when I turned the sample tab right side out. The stitching prevented this on my real tabs.

Now, my tab will lay flat with no extra fabric in the seams, and no extra folds.

Naturally, you still have to spend time trimming the sewn seam allowances, turning out completely and carefully pressing to achieve a good overall finish. I also top stitched at about 1/4 inch all the way around. 

After using lots of steam, and getting a healthy beating with my wooden clapper, I am thrilled with my couture Spanish Snap buttonholes!

Aren't they so very pretty?

Spanish Snap Buttonhole Resources

Juxtapose is the blog link my fellow Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests Member gave me for Spanish Snap Buttonholes.

I Googled the term like crazy and found several other blogs that discuss it: 
The Sewing Lawyer uses it on a lining fabric.
Emmaonesock also uses it in a lining.
Bloom's Endless Summer shows them in a heavyweight fabric and with contrast fabric.

Everything I've read indicates this book as the source: Couture The Fine Art Of Sewing by Roberta Carr. I can't help but wonder what other hidden treasures might be inside. Soon enough I'll find out! I popped over to Amazon this morning and grabbed a copy for myself. I've been wanting to add some couture and tailoring reference books to my personal library, anyway. Something more than the basic beginners books that are saturating the market these day, you know? Do you have a favorite Intermediate/Advanced book?

Image result for couture the fine art of sewing

At The End Of My First Week

With the tabs sewn, I was finally able to attach them to the sleeve backs and move forward with the next construction steps. The pattern directions instructed you to fold under the raw back edge of the tabs and stitch over it to sew them onto the sleeve, This sounded like way too much bulk for me. Instead, I tucked the raw edges inside and beat the crap out of it with my steam iron and clapper. When I top stitched all the way around, they were just as flat as the rest of the tab.

I placed the tabs right on top of the markings and stitched it on with a little box. They lay flat and secure with minimal fuss. 

The shoulders were attached at front and back using the same twill tape stabilizer that I used on the front and back raglan sleeve seams. This will ensure that the shoulder holds it's shape and doesn't distort with wear.

I also got both sides/underarms stitched up and pressed open my seam allowances. Next on the agenda is to catch stitch the shoulders and side seams open. Then....WELT POCKETS. 

Have you ever heard of Spanish Snap buttonholes? Do you think you might want to give them a try on your Coat? 

Share your inspiration and project plans with us in our Group's Facebook Page, Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests, and share what you are working on this week!

Have you missed one of the Coat Cravings posts? Find all the links HERE.



  1. Oh wow these are amazing! I never heard of these before and they look great, far better than machine buttonholes. I will use this technique when I make the Clare Coat again as used giant snaps of my first one.

  2. I bet they will work great on the Clare Coat! I'm planning a peacoat for after this and expect I'll use them there too.


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