Singer Professional Buttonholer Or How I Found Religion

buttonhole stitch embroidery designs

buttonhole stitch embroidery designs

For a few weeks now there has been a discussion on Pattern Review about Greist and Singer buttonhole attachments, and I’ve had a Singer for a long time. I never used it because it never dawned on me to see if it fits a vintage Singer Touch n’ Sew 648 that I have stashed under my cutting table. Well – it fits! And it makes a better buttonhole than my fancy Bernina. Here it is set up on the Touch ’n Sew. This machine is perfect as a dedicated buttonhole machine because its small, 14 inches wide and the footprint is only 18 inches wide. I can leave it set up permanently with the buttonholer attached. The only downside is that 648 bobbins hold just 20 yards of thread, however the bobbin winds in the machine too, which is very handy. I may go to IKEA and get small table so I can leave it set up next to my industrial full time. Singer made thousands of these little machines and they are easy to find on Ebay and Craigslist. SewUSA sells Touch n’ Sew manuals and their web site has instructions for winding a bobbin and a thread diagram, which is also inside the cover plate in the head. This is a simple all mechanical machine and after a few test runs I was cranking out great buttonholes easily.

The buttonholer attachment is also widely available on the web. It appears that Greist and Singer sold them from roughly the 1940′s to the 1970′s. So if you’ve been thinking about setting up a buttonhole station here are the basics:

  • Make sure you find the attachment that fits your machine; the buttonholer came in vertical shank and slant shank versions.
  • Make sure you use the right throat plate. The buttonhole attachment has its own feed dogs and the plate covers the feed dogs in the machine. There are three different types of throat plate (scroll down to see them) . If you have a newer machine that can drop the feed dogs you don’t need to worry about the throat plate. A Singer Touch n’ Sew 648 requires the throat plate on the left in the link above; there are no screw holes because a 648 has an “elevator” feature that raises throat plate with a lever and the buttonole plate slips under the indentations on either side.
  • For both the Greist and Singer attachment buttonholes are sized and stitched with small cams. The buttonhole cams drop into the top of the attachment. There are 20 cams in a complete Singer set, a complete set of Greist cams seems to be about 13 to 15 based on what people were saying on PR. Greist cams are pot metal, Singer cams are pot metal or plastic depending on the age of the attachment.

Buttonhole attachments of either brand seem to run $10 – $25 depending on how complete they are (cams, manual etc), and Touch n’ Sew machines can be had for short money too; maybe $50. All in all this is a great machine + attachment combination if you’re seeking better buttonholes.