Asola Lucida- a lightbulb goes on…

So I had another little moment of insight. Or maybe my thickheadedness deserted me briefly.

I was contemplating my lapel buttonholes last week, the by now infamous asola lucida ones, that is, and finding them just too chunky, especially when compared to some nicer ones like the Tom Ford. The thread I am using is just too heavy.

To wit



And theirs


Silk buttonhole twist is only available in two sizes these days, the finest being size 40, which is the one I use. But still, it is not nearly as fine as the thread used on the nicest lapel buttonholes. So I was wondering where I could find both buttonhole twist and a much finer thread but offered in the very same colors, something I have never seen before. Then I had my little idea.

Buttonhole twist is 3-ply- that is to say, it has three yarns (rather than the typical two) twisted together to form the thread. If I were to strip the twist down, I would have three very fine threads to use, solving my problem. Of course, such a fine thread would require three times as much work to cover the same space- I think it was Francesco Smalto who said that 140 stitches are required to execute the asola lucida. Using a thread this fine, I believe him. Compounding the difficulty, a thread which has been stripped can be difficult to work with. It’s just the sort of punishment I seem to enjoy inflicting upon myself in order to make a pretty buttonhole, and another detail over which to obsess for a while. So I started ripping apart the buttonholes on a few of my jackets, pulling apart silk twist, and reworking them over again.

Obsessive Buttonhole Disorder. I wonder if they make a pill for that…

15 Replies to “Asola Lucida- a lightbulb goes on…

  1. Great work.

    I'm having a hard time learning how to sewn a buttonhole correctly. The issue I am having is with the straight part of the hole and correctly using the gleam. Would it be possible to write a how-to?. I would greatly appreciate it.

  2. And the other thing you might check is whether the twist that you are using is S twist or Z twist – sometimes the thread will sew differently depending on the twist. I always try to find z twist, but not all buttonhole twist is the same…

  3. OBD is a new one for me but good luck with it. Your buttonhole is fabulous, I'd be thrilled with those on my clothing!

  4. Fascinating! Such a simple idea, yet good. I actually like the 'chunkiness' of the your buttonhole, but I can see what you mean through the bar at the end.
    Regardless, love your work.

  5. for my most recent one, i used bog standard gütermann pure silk hand sewing thread, the kind for consumers. a lot thicker, but worked out exceptionally well.

  6. Style damage- what do you mean by "the gleam"? There are plenty of instructions available all over the web, but like so many things, a buttonhole is 1% theory and 99% practice.

    Anonymous- that depends on where you live. It's not all that hard to find. Let me know where you are located and I can give you some sources.

    Oxxford too. In fact, probably everybody does that, it just took me a while to figure it out. Reinforces my point about having a teacher show you stuff and not trying to learn on your own because you just waste tons of time and effort…

  7. Hello, Your blog is very inspiring! I've always thought that the tailor's work is impressive and admirable, yet obscure and somewhat mysterious. I have tried to sew pants with acceptable results but to sew a jacket I have not yet dared me to. Through your blog, I start getting some insight into how it works and I'm soon ready to try my hand at sewing my first jacket. Your analysis has made me realize that there are more than one way to perform the work. Your descriptions have also inspired me to raise the requirements for myself and a sub-goal is to make a well-made three-piece suit as a professional and demanding tailor would approve. I look forward to reading more of what you will write and tell on your blog.

  8. 40 is about a size A/B in silk right, then have you thought about using size O or even OO machine silk? There is a Japanese company that has some uber fine longstaple silk that's a size 100, but then again isn't 100 and 00 about the same.

  9. Oh my gosh, I have finally managed to get my computer to work and watch your video.

    I have contacted the company in London, and hope that with practice, I can make a good job of the buttonholes on the chanel style jacket I am making for my daugther.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your blog and videos……..Huge respect

  10. Salve a tutti, e a te Jeffery, ultimamente per lavoro non mi sono fatta sentire….. ma oggi dovevo necessariamente scrivere sul tuo blog, perchè proprio questa mattina ho pensato a "Made by hand". Sono stata alla Brioni dove ho visto fare un'asola lucida su un rever di uno smoking da sera. L'asolaia era bravissima, ma devo dire che l'asola lucida non è fatta con la tua tecnica, ma diversa. Praticamente viene fatta con un filo di seta più sottile e con la tecnica dell'asola normale, solo che essendo il filo più sottile e girando il lavoro all'interno si vede solo la vergolina con il suo filo intorno. Beh spero che riuscirete a capire quello che ho scritto. Un carissimo saluto a tutti e buon lavoro. Franca

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