Industrial Sewing Machine

Sewing Vintage Style

Nicole Make it. Fix it. Do it Yourself.

Most of the sewing machines here in Cambodia can be manually operated as well as motorised. This is because many of the buildings don’t always have electricity for one reason or another. However come rain or shine work has to be done in order to pay the bills…

Today I took a step back in time and  learnt to make buttonholes by sewing vintage style – MANUALLY! Using a fairly old industrial looking Janome sewing machine it took a lot of coordination working the foot pedal and the balance wheel.

Industrial Jamone Machine

The trick was to get the two parts of the machine working in opposite directions. I found the technique  similar to using a spinning wheel.

Co-ordinating the Balance Wheel and Foot Pedal

Once I got all my limbs coordinated the rest was quite straight forward. By turning the stitch dial you create a different part of the buttonhole.

Position 1

1. Dial is turned to 1.
2. The machine will start sewing the first vertical line.
3. The Result – What the stitch looks like.

Position 2

1. Dial is turned to 2.
2. The machine will sew the first horizontal line.
3. The Result – What the stitch looks like.

Position 3

1. Dial is turned to 3.
2. The machine will sew the second vertical line.
3. The Result – What the stitch looks like.

Back to Position 2

1. Dial is turned back to 2.
2. The machine will sew the second horizontal line.
3. The Result – What the Buttonhole should look like.

Using a seam ripper I finished the buttonhole.

Completed Buttonhole

The next trick was to make sure the presser foot was in the correct position before you started the next buttonhole, otherwise the buttonholes would be wonky. Not a problem if that’s the look you going for… Which in all honesty would always be incorporated in my design if I had to work with this machine. I found the process quite challenging, extremely time-consuming and a little frustrating. I certainly take my hat off to all the ladies in Cambodia who make all the shirts around town.

I’ve definitely found a new appreciation for my automatic buttonhole function on my sewing machine 🙂

Fun to learn something new but not so much fun for production even in small batches… I have a new appreciation for button holes!

Like it? Share it!

About This Author


Google+ Instagram

Nicole Kerrigan is a fibre artist and environmentalist who’s on a mission to keep bad stuff out the ground. Through her one-of-a-kind creations, blog posts and workshops she’s here to shake up the way you treat, buy and love your stuff. And when she’s not making art out of trash you can find her exploring natural spaces and exotic places. Making friends with local wildlife. Occasionally rotting her brain on animated sitcoms like South Park :-) Or lighting it up on documentaries like Planet Earth Meet Nicole and get ready to save the planet one stitch at a time at