Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Greist Automatic Buttonholer arrives!

It’s like Christmas!!! I had to stop myself from jumping up and down when my husband walked in the door with the mail; on top of the pile was a small brown paper parcel, roughly assembled, but intact. My Greist buttonholer, all the way from the UK!

While sewing my jeans last November/December in Jennifer Stern’s Blue Jeans class on PR (by the way it’s on again now, starting this week) I thought it would be nice to make a keyhole buttonhole on them, but my Bernina 910 only has the plain 5 step buttonholer. One day, as I was perusing on PR, I stumbled upon a blog post that was all about automatic buttonhole attachments. Eventually I began to search on eBay, OK it was about a month ago, and found a style #1 Greist (apparently this style/model is compatible with most imported sewing machines, like Bernina) in the UK starting at BP 2.99. What a bargain, I thought, so why is nobody else bidding on this? Maybe the shipping costs, but who cares! It was the only one of this particular style at the time.

At first I was a little hesitant because it didn’t include the instruction manual, but I needn't have worried as after just a little searching online I found this page for Greist buttonhole attachment instructions.

This is it, as it came in the box (left) and once I’d dismantled it (right):

2011-04-11 001  2011-04-11 006

It wouldn’t work at first, totally seized up. Of course I only discovered that after I’d attached it to my machine, and had to remove the plastic cover; I remembered another Bernina user had the same problem.

2011-04-11 003

There was one part in particular that would not budge at all. In the pic below, the arm by the red arrow wouldn’t move and so it couldn’t turn the ratcheted wheel to its right, which moves the adjustment lever positioned in the cam…it’s easier to see it than explain it! And there was a lot of white flaky stuff around many parts, which I guessed must be just old oil/grease and decades of dust. A lot of little oil over every part I could imagine that might move (the instructions in the link above include how/where to do this), and it started to shift again.

2011-04-11 002

The instruction page at the link above mentions that you don’t really need to put the Greist cover plate on, and in fact it doesn’t even fit on the Bernina. As long as the feed-dogs are lowered it’s fine. This is the first test run, front and back, and I’m really happy with it so far:

2011-04-11 004  2011-04-11 005

As I was doing all this I watched Brian’s videos Exploring Buttonhole attachments, which are great. It sure is a lot faster if you can see something in action. In his part 1 video he mentions that the Greist was available with 5, 7 or 9 cams, but mine only came with 4, the smallest is missing I suppose. I wonder if cams in different sizes from other models are interchangeable?

Now I might just finish my jeans before making the alterations on my first muslin in Sherry’s RTW Tailoring Sewalong. They’ve been waiting a long time.


  1. How did you manage to fit the buttoholer to the Bernina? I have a buttonholer for black cast iron Singer, but it's low shank with a fastening screw. My Bernina has this lever like thing that flip back when I need to change the pressure foot.

    1. The foot lever does get in the way of the buttonholer case, but I was able to ~just~ squeeze it in; the lever however does not go down all the way, but the foot hangs on. I've not had any trouble using it, but I remember it was fiddly at first.