Buttonholer

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Simanco No. 489510 Buttonholer (attached).
Simanco No. 489510 Buttonholer Kit (laid out).

A buttonholer is an attachment for a sewing machine which automates the side-to-side and forwards-and-backwards motions involved in sewing a buttonhole.

Most modern sewing machines have this function built in, but many older machines do not, and straight stitch machines cannot sew a zigzag stitch with which buttonholes are constructed. A buttonholer attachment can create buttonholes from any sewing machine capable of making a lock stitch. (That is not to say, however, that some industrial buttonhole machines cannot employ a chain stitch, especially to create the purl when making keyhole buttonholes).

The buttonholer's adaptor attaches to the machine's presser bar, replacing the presser foot. In its place the buttonholer employs a cloth clamp with teeth on the underside to hold the material firmly whilst manipulating the cloth side to side and forwards and backwards. Driven by the up and down stitching motion of the needle bar via the fork arm straddling the needle clamp, it executes the series of movements to complete a buttonhole by moving the material rather than by moving the needle position. Buttonholers usually include a metal feed cover plate to cover the machine's feed dogs, so that they do not interfere with that of the buttonholer, though some machines allow the feed dogs to be disengaged or ‘dropped’.

Singer buttonholers[edit]

The Singer Manufacturing Company, (often abbreviated by Singer as Simanco), contracted several manufactures to produce buttonholers branded as Singer, in an evolving series of buttonholers that fit Singer machines. The Peerless Buttonholer for use on Singer VS machines was patented in 1887 and made by The Sackett Mf'g Co [1]. The Lenox ' "Famous" Buttonhole Worker' was patented in 1916 [2][1] (Simanco No. 36935).

Later buttonholer models made for Singer by 'Greist Mfg. Co.' employed templates to create a variety of different buttonhole sizes and shapes including keyhole buttonholes, as well as straight buttonholes, and even an eyelet. Produced for Singer from 1948 into the late 1980s, the Greist template design of buttonholers became Singer's longest running style of buttonholer.

Singer's line of buttonholers includes:-

For shank type Simanco No. Uses templates? Description Storage case
low 86662 no black and chromed metal body, only made in the UK. cardboard box
low 86718 no ivory and red metal red plastic box
low 86721 yes ‘Auto-Pilot’ for zig-zag machines cardboard box
low 121795 kit

121908 buttonholer[2]

no old-style without a plastic body

made exclusively in the USA [3] similar mechanical design to ‘Lenox’ “Famous”

Buttonhole Maker’, but significantly lighter.

Where Lenox’ “Famous” used chromed cast metal, the 121795 / 121908 has a stamped sheet metal case. [4]

cardboard box
low 160506 yes* black metal body green plastic case aka ‘Treasure Chest’ or the more rare black plastic case
low 489510** yes* beige plastic body cardboard box (UK) or green Clamshell case aka ‘Jetson’ (US)
slant 102880 yes ‘Professional’, white plastic body cardboard box
low 102878 yes White plastic body.

Box marked ‘for vertical-needle zig-zag machines’,(see below).

cardboard box
slant 160743 yes* black metal body maroon plastic case aka ‘Treasure Chest’
slant 161829 yes ‘Professional’, white plastic body cardboard box
slant 489500** yes* beige plastic body cardboard box (UK) or pink Clamshell case aka ‘Jetson’ (US)

‘Vertical Needle’ when used by Singer to refer to domestic machines, became Singer's modern term for a ‘low shank’.

The Simanco Nos. and sizes for the five templates included with the Singer (Greist design) buttonholer kit are as follows:-

Imperial Size Metric Size Buttonhole Type Simanco No. Composition
     5/16"   8mm Straight 160551 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

     5/8  " 16mm Straight 160550 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

   13/16" 21mm Straight 160549 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

 1–1/16" 27mm Straight 160552 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

 1–1/16" 27mm Keyhole 160548 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

*Singer marketed additional templates in a Four-Pack, Simanco No. 160668, in the following sizes:- 3/8" (10mm) Straight, 1/2" (13mm) Straight, 15/16" (24mm) Straight, and a 5/8" (16mm) Keyhole. An Eyelet template (Simanco No. 161231) was available through Singer as well but sold separately. The four templates in the set 160668 could be purchased from Singer individually as well.

The individual Simanco Nos. for the additional four templates not supplied with the Greist design attachment, as well as the eyelet template are as follows:-

Imperial Size Metric Size Buttonhole Type Simanco No. Composition
    3/8 " 10mm Straight 160561 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

    1/2 " 13mm Straight 160562 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

  15/16" 24mm Straight 160563 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

    5/8 " 16mm Keyhole 160564 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

    1/8 " to 3/16"    3mm to 5mm   Eyelet 161231 metal alloy,

briefly made of a grey plastic,

later made from a black fibre-resin composite

The width of the Eyelet varies depending on the setting chosen from narrow to wide. This is also the size of the eye of the Keyhole buttonholes, which likewise depends on the width chosen.

Greist often included a bonus in the form of a plastic pouch containing a set of the four additional templates — usually in grey plastic — not normally included with the buttonholer, viz sizes:- 3/8" (10mm) Straight, 1/2" (13mm) Straight, 15/16" (24mm) Straight, and a 5/8" (16mm) Keyhole. However, Greist continued to sell the Eyelet — made of metal alloy — individually, as well as selling templates in a Five-Pack of metal alloy inclusive of the eyelet; and in later years sold an Eight-Pack of templates — that included an Eyelet template — but only ever made of a black plastic fibre composite, or included them with the purchase of a Greist Buttonholer.

The three new additional sizes offered were:- 1" (25mm) straight, 7/8" (22mm) straight, and 7/8" (22mm) keyhole.

**The Simanco numbers of the Clamshell (Jetson) buttonholers 489500 (Slant) and 489510 (Straight) are very often confused. This is because these numbers are not stamped on the attachments or on their Clamshell (Jetson) Cases, and the 'one size fits all' user manual simply says 'For 489500 or 489510'. The only differences between the two models are:- 1.) The shank Adaptor is stamped 'STRAIGHT' on the low-shank model but 'SLANT' on the slant-shank model, and 2.) The Clamshell (Jetson) Case is green for the low-shank model but pink for the slant-shank model. (In later years, after singer had given up the Clamshell (Jetson) Case, these two model numbers were sold in red & white cardboard boxes, marked at one end 'Part No. 489500 SLANT', or 'For VERTICAL Needle Sewing Machines Part No. 489510'). (See note above on Singer's later use of the word ‘Vertical’).

White buttonholers[edit]

Greist Mfg Co. produced a buttonholer adapted to fit White Sewing Machine Company models, and which is internally identical to ones it produced as the Singer 160506 and 160743, or later 489500 and 489510 template-driven buttonholers. Under contract to White, the attachment was branded the ‘White Magic Key Buttonhole Worker’.

YS Star buttonholers[edit]

YS Star is a Japanese brand of sewing accessories made by the Yoshikoshi Manufacturing Company since 1945.[3] The YS-4454 and YS-4455 look very similar to the Famous Buttonhole Worker 121704 and 36935, which were patented in 1916 [5].[4] Three different models are offered, two of which have been cloned by Chinese manufacturers. The Japanese Yoshikoshi buttonholer shows "YS STAR", the star trademark, and "Made in Japan" in various locations.[5]

For shank type YS Star part number Clone part number Body Description
low YS-7004 ? grey plastic over chromed metal intended for home use
low and high YS-4454 FBA-20 chromed metal intended for home or industrial use*
high YS-4455 IBA-10 chromed metal intended for industrial use*

On all models, adjustment wheels or winged screws set the buttonhole length, ‘bight’ (zigzag stitch width), and stitch length.

*The ‘YS-445x" model settings are controlled by slotted screws because the settings are not expected to be changed often.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yarndiva (2011-07-05). "Sew Old - Sew New: The "Famous" Buttonhole Worker". Sew Old - Sew New. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  2. ^ "Singer Buttonholers". International Sewing Machine Collectors Society. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  3. ^ "Yoshikoshi Catalog". Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  4. ^ Yarndiva (2011-07-05). "Sew Old - Sew New: The "Famous" Buttonhole Worker". Sew Old - Sew New. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  5. ^ "Genuine YS Star". Retrieved 2014-11-17.