Skip to content

Posts from the ‘cut & sew’ Category

Buttons and Buttonholes

January 20, 2020


Growing the Line-up

Reece S2 automatic buttonholer

A sewing contractor loves sewing machines as much as she loves her shop, her work, and her business in sum. For me, my sewing line-up is like a large family which I have raised to adulthood, mostly with success (there is still a machine that asks me for money now and then); I beam with pride as I recount their interesting professions – each one is really good at at least one thing – and brag about what they have done with their lives (tote bags, crop pants, etc). It’s also like baby fever that never subsides: I am always wishing for just one more.

There is a reason why you should love sewing machines too, whether you are looking to have a design produced or just like purchasing good designs: proper machinery defines the type and level of goods that can be made in any shop or factory, and also the time it takes to produce them. For instance, a better quality shirt will often have a flat fell seam along the side and running up through the sleeve. This is a special seam that wraps all the cut fabric edges into a unique fold and is held flat with two rows of stitching. The finished look is neat and uniform, and it is a strong seam that wears well. Without the right machine, this type of seam would take at least three passes with a basic single needle machine – one to attach front and back, one to catch the folded seam allowance, and one to complete the double stitching look… and quite possibly a trip to the ironing board somewhere in there to make sure the fold is consistent. Plus a fair amount of struggling to topstitch into the narrow part of the sleeve where it meets the cuff. With the right machine, one can do all of this in one pass, and expect a professional result without the struggle. Hence, a beautiful finish done in less time, costing the designer less to make, and allowing that designer to sell at retail at a lower price point.

It’s good for everyone! Fun for me to have all these unique machines, more options in design and construction, and a reasonable price point at the end.

So here are the newest machines in the line-up: an industrial buttonholer, the Reece S2, and the Chandew 581 button sew, which I bought from a retired tailor on a whim. Fraternal twins, you might say.

In the past I have used a vintage domestic to make buttonholes. They were beautiful buttonholes but man, they were slow to make. This new-to-me Reece can sew and cut an entire shirt placket in less time than I could make a single buttonhole on my old setup. Jackpot! And it’s a similar story with the button sew – a single button, sewn on by hand, with all the threading, getting caught in thread, running out of thread, sewing, winding, tacking, and trimming can easily take 2 minutes each (which is 100% cost prohibitive in production!!). Now I am sewing on buttons in a true fraction of the time, and passing along the efficiency to the labels I sew for.

I won’t get rid of my vintage domestic though. I’ll take it with me to my grave.

In the shop: De Nova Robes

November 7, 2019


I’ve been busy, busy in the shop as of late, getting to know a new-to-me clothing line and prepping a couple of their styles for production. Meet De Nova, a bathrobe that looks nice, feels nice, and is really quite fun to sew.

The sample is in an off-white and black stripe french terry but there are 3 colorways to sew up – and two lengths, long and short. It’s a bit of an organizational feat keeping all the styles, sizes, and colors in their proper homes but I know I can do it.

The biggest challenge thus far (besides the timeline, which is always a challenge, so nothing noteworthy there) is finding THREAD to match the teal. I think I looked at all the options from my supplier in turquoise, blue, and green and none of them look good – nor even acceptable. I’m going to have to get tricky on this one.

Check out their online store for some nicer shots:

New Baby!

August 24, 2019


Great news! The machine I’ve been hoping and longing for has finally arrived. No, it’s not a human baby, it’s a foot press for securing snaps without sewing, grommets and rivets without pounding… and as far I can tell, attaching whatever hardware a design may call for.

The last time I needed snaps regularly was with my reclaimed fabric children’s line, in which I used a 3-piece hard plastic assembly to hold my snaps in place while I fumbled for the hammer and whacked the snap (and my thumbs) into place. Now I am set up to use this little baby for ligne 20 ring snaps – once the dies are set up, all I need to do is set the hardware in the dies and step on the pedal. I will use both hands to grip the fabric and there will be no hammering. It takes a fraction of the time. So, less tedium for me and less $$$ for you and your customers. Other fabulous features:

  • machine base is 20″ X 20″ – nice and compact for a low-overhead studio and completely moveable
  • a built-in hardware tray! No searching for studs and sockets
  • fresh coat of paint thanks to its former owner, “Jim”
  • a history: it was an extra from the J.W. Hulme bag factory in St. Paul
  • 1/4 of the price of a new machine. YES

I am planning to give it a spin this week with a set of canvas totes – I can’t wait to see it in action.


January 28, 2015


It’s a Bow Tie World.

At least once a week, we turn our love and attention to Mill City Fineries, a growing force in the high-standards menswear market. These folks crank out a vast array of limited-run bow ties, neck ties, and pocket squares; essentials for the “modern gentlemen,” made of top quality fabrics and stitched in Minnesota by top quality hands.

cutting out bow ties


Those top quality hands, in this case, are down in the aletheia Workshop. And it’s a pleasure.

Mill City Fineries is in good company; it seems that the local – meticulous – menswear segment is on the rise. If you want proof, visit the Askov Finlayson, Leatherworks MN, or William Rogue stores. Or watch this. Believe it! US made – and even MN made – is becoming a real value, and we are cheering it on.

Check the MCF shop for their forthcoming spring line, and think of us.