Tag Archives: Vintage buttonholers

The Ruby Buttonholer and the Vanguard Buttonholer


This post was going to be titled “The Ruby Buttonholer and the Vanguard Buttonholer and how to tell them apart”, but in fact there’s only one way to tell them apart.  You see what it says on the box.  If you haven’t got the box or the instructions, you’re basically stuffed.  Oh yes …

Picture of two Ruby buttonholers and a Vanguard buttonholer

From the left we have here the big Ruby buttonholer, the Ruby Buttonholer Type RB, and the Vanguard Buttonholer.  The big Ruby’s the odd one  out, so if we ignore that and concentrate on the other two, what differences do we see?

The first difference is body colour, but that’s actually no help at all if you’re trying to tell them apart, because we’ve seen both of them in all kinds of blue-grey and grey-grey, as well as one or other of them in a sort of buttermilk/pale cream.  I have a feeling we’ve also seen a black one, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

The other visible difference between those two is that little doohickey sticking out towards the front of the Vanguard, to which this red arrow is pointing …

Detail shot of Vanguard Buttonholer

That’s a setting screw which varies the width of the stitch from narrow to wide, and it’s not to be confused with the control which varies the width of the buttonhole.  Buttonhole width is the one which you can see on the side of the body with the 1-2-3 markings.

But alas, the presence of that stitch width wotsit does not mean it’s a Vanguard!  Nope, there are Vanguards with and without that, and the same goes for the Ruby.

It really is the case that if you haven’t got the box or the instructions, you can’t tell them apart, because they are indeed one and the same thing.

So, if you see a Vanguard Buttonholer for sale, it’ll look like either of those two with the plastic body but it may be a different colour, and it may or may not have variable stitch width.

If you see a Ruby Buttonholer for sale, it could be that contraption on the left in the team photo, but it’s more likely to be the plastic-bodied one.

If you see a Ruby Buttonholer Type RB for sale, it’s definitely the plastic-bodied one.  It may or may not have variable stitch width, and it may or may not have with it Part Number 17, which is the means by which a Ruby RB can allegedly be fitted to an industrial machine – as if anyone would want to do that.

We have nice examples of all three for sale on the Bits ‘n’ Bobs page, where you’ll also find snaps showing the boxes and instructions.

Vintage buttonholers


We were in a bit of a silly mood earlier today, and at one point Elsie said “Why don’t you do a team photo of the buttonholers?”.  I couldn’t think of any reason why not, so here you go …

Picture of 12 Vintage buttonholers for Singer sewing machines

Top row left to right is a Green’s from the land of the Vegemite sandwich, Precision (the one that comes in the maroon tin), Greist, Greist Rotary, Singer 489500 (the one which is usually seen in the green “Jetson” case), and the bigger of the two Ruby buttonholers.

Bottom row left to right is a Y.S.Star buttonholer, the common or garden Ruby type RB, Singer 86718 (the red plastic case one), Famous Buttonhole Maker, Singer 86662 (the usual one in the card box) and a Singer USA 160506 (the dark green plastic case one).

I know we have examples of most of these for sale, even if I haven’t got round to putting them on the “Bits ‘n’ Bobs” page yet, and I’ve just now realised that we missed out the Vanguard one from this picture.  No biggie though – a Vanguard’s just a Ruby RB with a different coloured shell.

Hmmm … I guess we need to do the same for zigzaggers next.