Tag Archives: vintage buttonholer

The Famous Buttonhole Worker


Picture of Famous Buttonhole Worker with box and instructions

I have no idea at all why The Famous Buttonhole Worker was famous, nor do I know exactly when this fine example of it first saw the light of day.  I can though tell you that it was made by the Lenox Manufacturing Company of Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, and very nicely made too if you ask me.

This one is the latest addition to our collection of buttonholers and as yet we don’t really know much more about it than you do, apart from the fact that the instructions are jolly good.  It must have been a great relief to many to open them and read that “no special skill is required to use the Famous Buttonhole Worker”.

The design of it obviously has a lot in common with the later Singer non-template buttonholers as shown on our Accessories page, and well golly gosh there’s actually an exploded diagram of it in the 1938 Singer Fashion Aids parts book, where it’s referred to as the “Buttonholer 121704”.  But it says neither “Famous” nor “Singer” on the one in the book, which is a bit strange really considering how Singer usually made sure they had the firm’s name on any product they sold.  Perhaps the illustrator just forgot to draw it.

Be that as it may, what you see above is what we got.  What we didn’t get with ours is the little wooden-handled knife with the interchangeable blades for cutting your buttonhole once you’d Famoused it, but we’re not bothered because it seems that the knife wasn’t always included, and anyhow we’re not anal about such things.

So … we know that the FBW begat the Singer Buttonholer 121704, which begat the Singer Buttonhole Attachment 86662 (the black one with the wing nuts), which begat the Singer Buttonhole Attachment 86718 (the cream one with the red knobs), and there the begatting stopped.  At least I think it stopped.  But maybe it didn’t, because I’m certain I’ve seen this device, or something remarkably like it, on the internets recently billed as a Y.S.Star industrial buttonholer!

Whatever, there’s supposed to be another example of the Famous Buttonhole Worker on its way to us this week from the US of A, so no doubt there’ll be more about it in due course.  Maybe a video of Elsie test-driving the thing, and maybe even one for sale …

The Singer Buttonholer Attachment 86718


Picture of vintage Singer Buttonhole Attachment 86718

Another picture of Singer Buttonhole Attachment 86718

Picture of Singer Buttonholer 86718

I just added a Singer Buttonhole Attachment 86718 to the goodies for sale on the Accessories page, which until last week was called the Attachments page.  Hey, that’s progress for you!

This is one of the two vintage Singer non-template buttonholers i.e. the type on which the length, bight and spacing of your buttonhole is set by means of adjustments rather than by changing templates.  OK, you can’t do keyhole buttonholes with a non-template buttonholer, but if your buttonholer doesn’t use templates, that’s one less thing to disappear down a black hole at the back of a drawer as soon as you look the other way.

Like many of these vintage attachments, it seems a bit clunky and agricultural when you first start playing with one, but you soon realise how versatile the thing is – and it certainly makes a lovely buttonhole, particularly if you keep sewing and go round twice.

Here’s a brief video of this one on test on Elsie’s 201K Mk2 treadle machine earlier today …