Aah, the bibs. The bibs that were meant to be so quick and easy. Hah!
(I still haven't found the neck with the blue buttons, grumble)
Persuaded by Millie and RB, I persevered with the buttonhole idea. I didn't have any stitch&tear embroidery stuff so I used normal tissue paper and after about 10 trial runs (honestly!) and fiddling with various adjustments on the Lidl sewing machine, I managed to get a semi-decent buttonhole. Pinning the tissue on the towelling side and having that face down in the machine seemed to work best.
Sewing the buttonholes on the actual bibs turned out to be a bit variable - every so often the machine failed to catch the threads so I had to go back afterwards (with the Elna) and re-do the zigzag in a few places. I think out of 18 buttonholes, perhaps 5 came out perfect first time.
But I'm glad I stuck with it. I really think buttons and button holes were the right thing to do here. They look pretty, you can't really see the (crappy) buttonhole stitching, and I'll be able to move the buttons as Young Avalanche gets bigger.
But I have learnt a few lessons. Firstly, don't buy a sewing machine from Lidl, and if you do, don't expect it to cope with anything other than summer cottons (although to give it it's due, I did sew a bag with it (when I first got it) that had seams of 6 -8 layers in some places - but that's another post...).
Also, think twice about buttonholes in towelling. This might work fine with an industrial machine (or perhaps even a modern, good brand of domestic) but otherwise it's a pain in the arse. In theory, the Lidl machine makes decent buttonholes but the zigzag is very narrow and not adjustable, so where you need a wider stitched button hole (say with large looped towelling) you're out of luck.
The mad thing about all of this is that I could have gone to Tesco or somewhere and bought multipacks of bibs for silly money, but I suppose this is what crafting people do: sew because they can, and because they want to, and because they want something nicer than you can buy in the shops. So all in all, I am happy that I made them, and will be happier still when I can afford a new sewing machine to superseded the Lidl one.