How to Sew a Buttonhole? Comprehensive Guide

15 min read

Sewing the old-fashioned way has nothing wrong with it. Sewing by hand hasn’t lost its allure despite the many advances in modern technology. In spite of the convenience of automated sewing machines, hand sewing provides a more meditative experience.

Buttonholes that are hand-stitched have a certain appeal. A nice needle, thread, a blanket stitch, and some time to yourself are all that is required. To ensure that the shirt, etc., looks its best, make sure that all of the areas are level.

Please continue reading this article for instructions on how to sew a buttonhole by hand. It provides all of the details you’re looking for. You might want to give it a go in a few minutes. With a little practice, the process becomes a lot less cumbersome.

Can You Sew a Buttonhole?

Buttonholes can be sewn by hand by any expert sewer who was born before the contemporary era of sewing machines. Everything gets easier with experience, even if the process is frustrating and time consuming at first.

Measurement is the key to producing good buttonholes. It is imperative that you measure carefully and accurately to ensure that the holes are uniformly spaced and not clustered at the end.

Then all you need is some quiet time, preferably a substantial chunk of it, and a place to sit. That’s just how things work. If you’re an expert hand seamstress, you should be familiar with a wide variety of stitch patterns for making beautiful buttonholes with the needle and thread alone.

Additionally, the holes themselves must be neither excessively big nor small.

How to Sew Buttonholes by Hand



Before the hole can be used, there are various actions and phases that need to be completed. Gathering and measuring your materials are the first steps in the process. Among the tools you’ll need are a needle and thread; scissors; buttons; two pins; chalk or marker; and a way to measure the finished product.

If you’re making a jacket, opt for a thicker thread like buttonhole or pearl cotton. The next step will be to carefully indicate where the holes will be and to take measurements.

Mark the locations of your top and bottom buttons, then measure the distance between them. Then, subtract 1. Then decide how many buttons you want and divide the first total by the second and that will be the space between your buttonholes.

Place a button on one of the marks and pin it in place with a 1/8-inch margin for added convenience. When you remove the button, draw a line connecting the two pins. Make a hole in the back by ironing on some interfacing and then cutting along the line.

Stitch two parallel lines of stitches on either side of the length of the hole, as near to the hole as possible. Buttonhole stitching is as simple as threading a second needle with your buttonhole thread and stitching a few rows. To keep the thread in place, you’ll need to do a few back stitches.

Make a fan stitch or bar tack stitch in the left corner, then continue with the blanket stitch down the other side. When you reach the opposite end, you have the option of sewing a keyhole or a straight bar. After you’ve finished, use the needle to secure the other stitches.

Just one method for making a buttonhole without using a machine is shown here.

How to Sew Buttonholes by Machine

Making a buttonhole couldn’t be easier than this. You still have to do some of the work when you make a hole by hand if you don’t have a one-step or four-step feature on your sewing machine.

To avoid cutting too much fabric, you still need to measure, pin, and cut the hole, but the pins help prevent mistakes like over-cutting. But you don’t have to sew to make it. Either use the same or a little darker shade of thread to match the color of the fabric you’re working with. Embroidery or cotton thread can be used for the project.

Then you sew on a sewing machine, keeping a close eye on your work. To use these instructions, you must have an older sewing machine that does not have a buttonhole feature. Sewing machines with four steps require your permission each time they stop at a corner. Until you do, it won’t go any farther

Once a hole is drilled with a one-step machine, it will continue drilling until it is finished. Before you begin sewing, insert the button into the holder on the foot and press the start button.

The 4 step sewing machines provide you more control than the one step sewing machines..

How to Sew a Buttonhole Without a Buttonhole Foot

If you don’t use the buttonhole foot on some of the latest sewing machines, you won’t be able to sew. You will have to check your owner’s manual to see if your model is one of those machines. If that’s the case, you can go forward to the next section.

Taking measurements of the shirt’s buttons is the first step in making a custom shirt. Then, add an additional 1/8th of an inch for convenience of use. Then, draw your top, bottom, and connector/cut line. Lines are now marked.

Once you’ve chosen your stitch pattern, you’ll need to determine whether or not your sewing machine offers unique buttonhole patterns. The bar tack stitch is the top and bottom design, while the side stitches appear like a cross between the lightning and zig-zag stitch.

4 steps or 2 steps, depending on your machine and expertise level, are all that is required to complete this task. Using a short stitch length is preferable than using a long one since it better secures the fabric. You’ll need a smaller stitch width for this.

To sew a buttonhole, place the zig-zag presser foot in the desired location and sew the first portion. Alternate between the two patterns until you are finished.

Once the buttonhole is finished, remove the needle from the cloth and snip the extra thread. Then, reattach the buttonhole to the fabric. Once you’ve finished, cut a hole in the fabric using an embroidery scissor.

Do this for all of the buttonholes on the shirt, dress, and so on. Repeat until you’re done. Make sure to practice buttonholes and check the buttons to see if the hole is the correct size before completing the real thing.

Which Direction to Sew Buttonholes



As a general rule, work your way up from the buttonhole’s leftmost corner. Once you’ve traversed the second corner and returned to the third, it’s time to return to the first corner.

In the absence of a sewing machine, buttonhole foot, or automatic feature, this is how it works. Check your owner’s manual to see if the buttonhole features on steps 1 and 4 are the same or different.

For example, some sewers ascend from the left, then traverse the bottom, then ascend from the right, and finally, traverse the top. Buttonhole stitches may be configured to run in different ways depending on how your machine is set up.

Stitch pattern 8 came in first, followed by stitch pattern 6, and stitch pattern 7 came in third for one sewer. It all depends on your computer.

How to Sew a Buttonhole On An Old Machine

There are buttonhole foot attachments for older machines, which is a wonderful thing. Make it easier to measure if you have one or can get one. If you don’t have one, you can use a conventional presser foot.

For the proper stitch style, reduce your stitch length to nearly 0. In the event that you have an older sewing machine that is capable of sewing a zig-zag stitch, you can also use it to produce a buttonhole.

Make your markings and align the fabric before you begin stitching. Once you’ve completed the left side, go back to the bottom and cross over to the right side. They don’t require a lot of stitches for the end caps. Whether or if you push all three buttons is up to you and how big your button is.

Make a Buttonhole in Knitting



A knit buttonhole can be made in at least five distinct methods. Using knitting shorthand, certain instructions will be given in yarn overs, which are the simplest to produce. You knit until you reach the desired location for your button, at which point you ‘k2tog, YO.’

If you want to keep track of your stitch count while making a perfectly round hole, this is the style for you. Aside from that, it’s going to be a little bit small. It’s also possible to use the double yarn over manner by k2tog, YO two times and SSK.

The buttonhole will remain intact if you knit 1 and purl 1 or if you purl 1 and knit 1. We’ll leave it at those two possibilities, and as you can see, making a knit buttonhole isn’t that difficult.

Also available are a buttonhole without a hole and a buttonhole for when you forgot to make a buttonhole in the first place, as well as a buttonhole with one row. Simple snipping of a stitch and sewing up of the ends are all that is required to create this look.

Make a Bound Buttonhole

In order to get good at making buttonholes, you’ll need to practice on a dummy first. It’s easy to make mistakes, but you can always figure out where you went wrong and fix it so the final product is excellent.

  • The first step is to make a buttonhole box. Adding 3/8 of an inch for convenience is a good idea.
  • Step 2: Cut your patch, which can be as small as 4 by 4 inches or as large as you want it to be. Overlap your basted boxes and secure with straight pins.
  • Stitching is the next step. Using a short stitch length, you begin on the long side of the box and work your way around it. To ensure that both ends have the same number of stitches, count the stitches at the end.
  • When cutting the hole, be sure to make a V-shape at both ends. When cutting, be sure to go through both layers. As far as the stitches are concerned, try not to cut them.
  • Step 5: Lay the patch flat before pressing it into place after bringing it through the aperture. In order to avoid having to cut the fabric any farther and come even closer to the stitching, make sure it rests flat.
  • Tie a bow around your hat’s neck by folding the patch in half, and then repeat for the bottom.
  • It’s time to finish the box by sewing in the two triangles on either side of the patch.
  • To complete the button set, go to Step 8 and remove the basting thread from the remainder of the buttons before continuing on to Step 9.

Make Two Stitch Buttonhole

As a knitter, this should be a breeze for you to accomplish. Pull the yarn to the front, slip a purl, and return the yarn to the back to begin knitting the button hole.

This step might need to be repeated. You may need to repeat this step between 1 and 4 times depending on how many stitches you’ve slipped. Cast on 3 to 6 stitches with the right needle placed between the first and second stitches that are on the left needle, then turn and place the last stitch on the needle.

Then, make a loop and attach it to the left needle. In the range of two to five repetitions. Weave in all loose ends and finish with a final cast on and a yarn tail to finish.. Finish the row by working to the finish.

Sew Buttonholes in Fleece



To begin, any needle size between 11 and 16 can be used, and the needle does not need to be a specialty one. When sewing a buttonhole in fleece, it is possible to create a lettuce look if the stitches are too little. Stitching that is both long and wide is what you’re going for.

To keep the fabric in place, you’ll need to add a stabilizer. Interfacing can be slipped between two layers of fleece to get this effect.

Buttonhole patterns can be drawn with solvy material, if you have it. Stitches won’t be swallowed up by the fleece. Temporary fabric glue or pins can be used to hold it in place.

A contrasting color from another piece of fleece or imitation suede can be used around the buttonhole region if you want to be creative. The next step is to sew 1/8 of an inch away and around the specified buttonhole, as shown in the illustration.

Then, take your final tally. This type of buttonhole-making has many variations, but this offers you an idea of how to proceed. It’s possible to stitch the solvy in place if desired.

Sewing Buttonholes in Knit Fabric

Keep in mind that a buttonhole can make or break a sewing project when working with this type of cloth. You’ll need to plan meticulously and then leave the buttonhole marking till the end.

A corded buttonhole is a great way to spruce up a knit fabric, but the style is entirely up to you and the design you choose. Buttonholes can be made in either a vertical or a horizontal fashion, depending on the design of your sewing project.

Before you begin, consider yourself: Does this item require an exceptional button? Alternatively, should you place your attention on the buttons? To what extent should the buttons be employed as a visual element?

Your knit fabric buttons will look great if you can answer these questions. After that, you should contemplate a variety of issues pertaining to the button’s appearance.

First, does it matter whether the buttons are the same color as the garment? So, what kind of material should the button be made of? Finally, how should the button be stitched on? You’ll either have more work or less work depending on how it turns out.

Sewing Buttonholes in Velvet

It is important to reduce the number of seams in a sewing job while dealing with velvet. Because seams and buttons can add bulk, you should think carefully before adding any to a velvet garment.

Buttonholes may not be necessary when the velvet sewing job comes down to the buttons. That’s a tough one to pull off with this kind of material. When it comes to buttons, loops may be the way to go.

If you decide to use buttonholes, attempt to use a pick stitch wherever possible. It disappears into the mass of fabric, preserving the aesthetics of your buttonholes. Unless, of course, you’re sewing with a thread that’s an outlier in terms of hue.

Buttonholes can also be created by hand sewing. It is entirely up to you whether or if you want to have more control over the content, but you will.

Sewing Large Buttonholes


Sewing Large Buttonholes

Those sewing machines with automatic buttonhole makers (one or four steps) aren’t built to work with big buttons, which is one of their flaws. It’s going to take some work if you’re going to go big.

Additionally, if you’re working with knit fabrics, you’ll want to use a stabilizer. Once you’re ready, proceed as if you were making a smaller button by measuring, marking, and pinning.

If you possess a machine, there will be changes required, and these adjustments are dependent on the type of machine you own. Then, as you would with a regular buttonhole, begin stitching. Going up one side, across, and then back down the other side before closing the box off.

To cut your fabric, you’ll need to sew your stitches, which can be done in a zigzag pattern or with buttonhole stitch designs. Depending on the machine, you may need to work with a buttonhole sensor in order to complete your task.

Some final words

There’s a solid reason why buttonholes are best left until the end of the process. Because of their size, materials, and whether or not your sewing machine has a good buttonhole option, they might be tricky to sew.

Hand sewing isn’t necessarily a negative thing; in fact, it might be the ideal option in certain circumstances.



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