How to sew a buttonhole

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You’ll need to know how to sew a buttonhole for the placket on your Little Camper Dress.  I’ve done as much of the hard work for you as I can – the fiddly annoying buttonhole placement, making sure they’re all spread evenly, not too bunched, not too far apart, balanced etc etc – and I’ve left the buttonholes open ended so you can use a variety of sizes depending on the buttons you want to use, the fabric you are using, etc.

The placket measures 1.9cm (.75″) wide, so you need to make sure your buttons are smaller than this, if they’re bigger the balance will be all wrong and you’ll end up with the buttons hanging over the edges of the plackets.  The best sizes are about 15mm-18mm buttons – you’ll likely have buttons this size kicking around in your stash somewhere.  (Ex teacher side note: a jar of buttons in your sewing space is a both a fun and educational way of keeping kiddos occupied while you get a bit of sewing done.  They can sort them by colour, by size, they can count them, they can do simple maths with them -“three buttons and two buttons makes five buttons”.  Obviously this is NOT a good activity for little kiddos with a fondness for eating every.single.thing that passes through their hands.)

The easiest way to learn how to sew a buttonhole is grabbing your machine’s manual and a stack of scraps, reading the former and using up the latter.  For real.  My machine has an automatic buttonhole foot and attachment – you clip the foot on, choose the buttonhole setting, and floor it til the needle stops, hey presto, buttonhole – and I STILL have to practice on a scrap piece first because I can never remember which way it is going to sew first. I do like to make your lives as easy as possible though, so let’s have a look at some options for sewing a button hole together. First step, is to mark where your buttonhole needs to be.  The lines showing you where they need to go on the placket piece for the Little Camper Dress are the shape of a T. button-hole-marking   If you do not have a buttonhole foot OR buttonhole settings on your machine you can sew a buttonhole with a very narrow zig zag stitch.   Place your button at the top of the T and redraw the top line if necessary. How to sew a buttonhole without a button hole foot   Now draw a line at the bottom of the button. how to sew buttonhole on a basic machine   Use a ruler to join these lines together, forming a narrow, skinny box, about 2mm in width and long enough for your button to pass through. how to mark a buttonhole   Sew a box around this line – we’ll use this as a guide. buttonhole for little camper dress   Using a very narrow and short stitch, sew a zig zag line down the left side of the box and repeat on the right side. sew a buttonhole without button hole foot   Then, with a wider stitch length and the shortest setting your machine will allow, sew a few zig zag stitches across the top and the bottom of the zig zag lines. heytherethreads buttonhole     For more advanced, yet still basic machines, you might have a button foot that looks like this: manual buttonhole foot for basic machines   And settings on your machine that look like this: manual buttonhole   Insert your button into the button hole foot and use the markings down the side to help you sew a buttonhole the correct length. how to sew a buttonhole on a basic machine   For more advanced/computerised machines, you’ll have a buttonhole setting on your machine and a buttonhole foot that looks like this: hey there threads buttonhole tute This one does everything for you.  Put a button in the end of the foot and it automatically adjusts itself to sew the correct length.   Now that we have a buttonhole sewn, use a seam ripper – and gentle hands with lots of patience! – to cut the slit open.   Insert it in the end of the buttonhole and gently slide it up towards the top.  If you go too fast or too rushed you risk tearing straight through the end of the buttonhole, and given that buttons are usually the last thing sewn on, ruining the entire garment.  I’ve read that some people like to use fray stop (?) on their buttonholes before they cut the slit but I wouldn’t know what fray stop looked like or how to use it if I tripped over it so….  I can’t help you with that one. use a seam ripper to create a buttonhole   To mark where to place the button lay the buttonhole directly  over where the button is going to go.  In the case of the Little Camper Dress, ensure the top and bottom of the placket are aligned – you might want to give it a quick press with the iron.  Insert a marking pen or tailors chalk into the buttonhole and draw a line on the back side of the placket to mark where the button is going to go. mark button through buttonhole     Move the top of the placket aside and move the button into position. line button over mark align button Sew the button in place, either by hand or using your button foot: button foot hey there threads   That’s it, you’re done!  Bet it takes you longer to read this blog post than it does to sew your first buttonhole!! Stay tuned, the Little Camper Dress is coming soon!  To be among the first to know (and to score a discount code for its release) make sure you are on the mailing list here. Love yas!

7 thoughts on “How to sew a buttonhole

  1. […] if you usually avoid buttons and buttonholes, this post will get you ready to go.  There’s no real secret to them, you just gotta give them a go!  The best thing you can do […]

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    2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I used to know how to do manual buttonholes and have been trying to remember how. My machine has the automatic setting, but doesn’t always do a great job.

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  4. Frey check comes in a bottle like eye drops. It’s a liquid and you put it on the raw edge of fabric and let it dry. Clear nail polish works too and is easier to apply.

  5. You have seriously jogged my memory. I was taught a slightly different method. Once the lines are drawn you can start with the wide stitch, do the narrow zig zag up one side, do the wider zig zag again, and then the narrow again. This worked best on a machine with a reverse switch, not a reverse button that has to be held, but I am sure it can be adapted to modern machines with some experimentation. This way you don’t have to waste time and thread.

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