I diligently stitched two detached buttonhole filling samples on my doodle cloth – one using a single foundation thread for each row and the other using two.
Then Francesca made this comment on my previous post, which I’ve truncated a bit (thanks again, Francesca - your comment was not only fascinating, but also a huge help!):
I've studied and done a lot of detached buttonhole in historical reproduction embroidery and have never heard about two foundation threads. About the direction of the stitching, in some old embroideries the foundation thread can be a separate thread that goes from left to right and back right to left and the "working" thread, the one that makes the stitch, can be another thread so the stitching can go L to R and R to L.
I felt sure the words in my instructions said to use two foundation stitches and that the diagram showed that as well, so I pulled out all the instructions.
Oh dear… what was that saying about assumptions?
While the text instructions for this band say to work the detached buttonhole within - and attached to - a chain-stitched border (as Mary Corbet’s video tutorial shows and as Tricia Nguyen’s directions show as well), there is nothing at all there about any kind of foundation thread.
Okay, that’s fine – the directions are for stitching the sampler, not instructing me in the techniques for the various stitches used. However, the stitch diagrams included are quite generic (of course it makes perfect sense for a designer to be able to reuse stitch diagrams). But the one for detached buttonhole is apparently for executing the stitch without using any framing, whether chain stitch or back stitch or any other stitch. So yes, it really DOES say to use two foundation threads, but that’s only for the *first* row – subsequent rows are merely worked through the first row, and call for no foundation thread at all.
Yeah, I’m a turkey.
So let’s take a look at my stitched samples anyway, since I really did learn something from this exercise … uh, something more than reading twice before starting to stitch.
The upper sample uses ONE foundation thread on each row, and the direction of the detached buttonhole stitches is always left to right. The lower sample has those erroneous TWO foundation threads, and stitching direction alternates – left to right on the first row, then R to L, and so on.
I like the nice even look of the upper sample – see how the rows tend to slant back and forth a bit in the lower one? And while I like the stability and sturdiness that the two foundation threads gave, I think the lacier look is nicer for Lady Jane’s dress, and I'll be using the single foundation thread when I next pick up the sampler and start filling in a sleeve.
Another thing I learned is that – for me at least – it’s easy to pull the stitches too tight. While the stitches look nice and even for most of the top sample, you can see the bottom row looks rather wonky. That’s because it’s really working to pull the detached part down against the chain stitch outline and each individual stitch is taller than it ought to be as well as tighter. The high contrast of the blue border doesn't help that sample. The lower box is stitched in the color that actually outlines the dress.
In the lower sample, I added an extra row even though it looked like there was no room for it on the sides, and that allowed the rows to be more consistent in height and tension.