Menu
Handmade Wardrobe / Inspiration

That time I almost ruined my Matilda dress

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

I finally feel ready to post about this Matilda dress that I made during the sewalong, after a buttonhole disaster at the 11th hour. Is there anything worse than finishing a garment completely, then ruining it in the final step? Who wants to join my idiot club?

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric
Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

When it comes to cutting open buttonholes, i’ve never seen the use in buying a buttonhole cutter, and have always used my seam ripper. I was perfectly happy living on the edge, having imagined myself perfectly capable of avoiding cutting through the buttonhole. I was wrong. I sliced right through the buttonhole just below the waistband. I was gutted, and I didn’t take it well. There were tears.

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

On the plus side, I have now learnt to place a pin at the end of my buttonholes before slicing them to prevent this – which is one of those little tricks I can’t believe I never learnt before. Sigh.

I was so upset that I couldn’t bring myself to tackle fixing it for quite some time. I couldn’t cut a new placket because I had run out of fabric, and the fabric was from a Morrison sale and was all sold out. But if i’m 100% honest, even if i had leftover fabric, i don’t think i would want to, because it would be removing the collar stand too, and it just felt like a lot to unpick and possibly ruin in the process.

SO I posted about this slice job on Instagram to see if anyone had any ideas for how to fix it, and gosh did everyone deliver! I received so many thoughtful ideas for how to mend or cover a sliced buttonhole. The most common suggestion was to simply zig zag over the slice with thread that was a close match to the fabric. So that’s what i did. I also extended the buttonholes to try and mask it a bit. Below is what it looks like now.

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you i am 100%-over-the-moon-thrilled-to-bits with this fix, because i’m just not. But it will do. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone except me, so i’m trying my best to forget it’s there. One of the little things that still bugs me about this fix, is that I wasn’t able to completely unpick the buttonholes and resew them, as since i’d already sliced them open, trying to unpick them was making a giant mess – so instead i sewed longer buttonholes on top of the old ones. Which made the buttonholes very bulky.

The thing i find the most irritating, and please forgive me for being a whiner, is that I had saved this fabric to make myself an exact copy of the pattern sample. And I just feel disappointed that it isn’t perfect.

Which i think in itself is a good lesson – if you hold yourself to perfection as the standard, you’ll never be happy.

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric
Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

Having said all of that, and let all of my whining out – the more I wear it, the more I forget about the mended buttonhole, and just enjoy the dress. Which is good, because I had been dreaming of making this exact dress for such a long time, and it feels SO good to finally wear it and enjoy it.

I feel really good wearing it, and it has definitely become my current go to dress for any occasion where i want to feel a bit put together, and that my friends, is a win in my book!

So what do you think about this fix? Do you think it looks ok? Have you ever sliced through a buttonhole at the end of a project, and if so how did you fix it? It’s ok, we can cry together LOL.

Megan Nielsen Matilda dress in Rust brushed cotton // The buttonhole below the waistband was sliced through and damaged and has been fixed with a narrow zig zag stitch in same colour thread as fabric

XOXO

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nancy Morris
Nancy Morris
4 years ago

I find it much less stressful to aim for excellence rather than perfection. One is achievable and the other can never be attained.

Holly Sharp
4 years ago

I’ve never sliced through a buttonhole. But recently I was making a Farrow dress to wear to a wedding and got one of the back panels caught up in my serger when I was finishing the seam and cut two huge holes in it with the serger blade. I yelled, cried, and maybe uttered a four letter word (or two). Then I recut the panel, unpicked SO MUCH and fixed it. It still makes me tense up to think about it.

yogisewest
4 years ago

I have done it and it’s petrifying. I now own the button hole cutter. It’s worth my piece of mind. I love your dress. Thank you for the encouragement of not “holding myself to perfection.” Zig zagged???

Linda
Linda
4 years ago

Hi Megan,

Thank you So much for this post. I have not cut through a button hole, but I have had numerous sewing disasters. I usually sulk for a few days before I can even go into my sewing room again. Thank you for reminding us that if we seek perfection we will always be disappointed.

May
May
4 years ago

It’s a beautiful dress and who would know about the mishap (apart from you and the Internet)? My new motto, porrowed (permanently borrowed) from the wonderful Angela Walters: ‘Finished is better than perfect’

TrishKnits
4 years ago

I’ve had my fair share of disasters – just like everyone who owns a sewing machine or picked up a needle and thread! I like your fix – it has done the trick and has no doubt prevented it from fraying and is virtually invisible to others. And the more you wear your beautiful Matilda, the less noticeable it will be to you. :)

I’ve avoided buttonhole issues so far with this little tip: Using a seam ripper, and holding the garment on a flat surface with the buttonhole perpendicular to me, I insert the tip at end of the uncut buttonhole nearest to me and bring the tip up through the end of the buttonhole (if it’s a short buttonhole) or, if it’s a longer buttonhole, bring the tip up through the mid-length of the buttonhole. Then, holding the garment flat and steady with one hand, guide the ripper slowly in a smooth, steady movement to cut the buttonhole. For a longer buttonhole, make a second pass, this time, bringing the tip up at the end of the buttonhole. This method makes it impossible to cut through the bar stitching at the bottom of buttonhole. Of course, as with any technique, practice helps.

I’ve never used a buttonhole cutter because I worry I wouldn’t have the control I feel I have with my seam ripper. Of course, everyone has their own preference, but this is what works for me.

Ann T.
Ann T.
4 years ago

I haven’t experienced that particular sewing mishap, but I have had plenty of them. For example, I cut the back half of a pair of pants with the design upside down. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut it again properly, so I made them this way. I did not mention it to anyone, and no one has mentioned it to me. In fact, I don’t even think about it now. While it is admirable to strive for perfection, I think it is neurotic to require it of ourselves. Not only does problem solving an issue, such as your button hole, stretch one’s creativity, it also builds character.

Tamara
Tamara
4 years ago

I think you’ve done a beautiful job, and its actually quite a cute little addition that I hope you come to see fondly in time. This week I was finishing the seams on a pair of denim overalls (that I spent a looong time making because I was altering a pattern built for someone with a very different body shape to me) with my overlocker and cut a V in the crotch. I did a tiny panic and then, perhaps because I spend so much time mending the bums in my partner who cycles a lot’s pants, calmly cut a little patch, stitched it on, and then zig zagged over the V. I am a huge perfectionist, as I think most sewists are (how else would we have managed to make our own CLOTHES that STAY TOGETHER in PUBLIC), but I’m learning to let go a bit. At the beginning of my sewing journey I would cry and leave something for two weeks before trying to fix it/start again. Now if it’s late I leave it a day or two, but if its not late I’ll just get straight to fixing it. Asking if people can notice it is really helpful too – usually their exclamations about how impressed they are that I made it help smooth over my ego and let go of perfect :)

Colesworth
4 years ago

that’s a pretty good fix. I’m sure you are still a bit annoyed, but I enjoyed all the interaction that ensued on your instagram feed ;o)

Cynthia
4 years ago

The finished dress is truly lovely! i hope you’ll come to forget about the buttonhole after sometime :)
And it has nothing to do with the subject of the post, but I really like this last picture of yours, you have such a beautiful smile and gaze!

Kerstin Shadbolt
Kerstin Shadbolt
4 years ago

During my time as a foster carer a health professional once told me that I allowed my exhausting efforts to achieve ‘perfection’ got in the way of ‘good enough’. Applicable in many areas of life, I think. Even sewing!