How To Make A Buttonhole On A Sewing Machine

Preparing to Sew the buttonhole

When it comes to sewing buttonholes, having the right equipment and materials is essential for a successful task. To prepare for making a buttonhole, start by choosing a buttonhole foot for your sewing machine. Be sure that the foot is appropriate for your model of sewing machine and the weight of the fabric that you are using. It is also important to have thread to match the fabric and a sharp pair of scissors.
Marking the fabric is the next step before beginning the process. Mark accurately and precisely where you would like to place the buttonhole, keeping in mind that this must correspond with the button’s placement once it is sewn. Finally, it is important to know the size button that you are using for the fabric, for this will tell you how long the buttonhole should be.

Sew Buttonhole

Once the necessary preparations have been made and the fabric is ready to be worked with, you must begin to operate the sewing machine. Start by attaching the correct buttonhole foot to the machine, and then placing the fabric beneath it.
The most important step is to begin setting the machine for an appropriate buttonhole width. This is done by “locking-in” the stitch that will determine the buttonhole length. Many machines have a mount selector option and adjustable positioning knob, allowing the user to determine a precise, given width for the buttonhole.
Once a width is determined and the “lock-in” has been secured, begin to sew the buttonhole. Start at the topmost section and be sure to sew the fabric slowly and methodically, allowing the machine to guide your thread. After you have finished the top section, proceed to sew the sides and the bottom carefully, allowing the width of the created buttonhole to correspond to the size of the button.

Securing the Ends of Buttonhole

Securing the ends of the buttonhole is critical to ensure that the finished product will not unravel. A variety of techniques can be utilized to secure the buttonhole such as backstitching, tying off the threads, or using the sewing machine’s reverse switch.
One of the most popular and successful methods for finishing a buttonhole is called the “bar tack”. This is achieved by creating a series of horizontal stitches at the end of the buttonhole, allowing the beginnings and endings of a thread to overlap each other. Make sure to sew over the ends of the thread several times, being careful to avoid pulling the thread too tight and consequentially distorting the width.

Cutting the Buttonhole Open

Cutting the buttonhole open is perhaps the trickiest part of the process. This will allow you to insert the button through the material and is therefore a necessary step. To cut the buttonhole open, it is recommended using a sharp pair of scissors. Cut along the middle portion where the stitches were not made, between the held threads on each side.
For extra accuracy, first mark with tailor’s chalk or tailor’s wax pencil the line along which you would like to cut the buttonhole. This is beneficial as any mistake made can be fixed before actually cutting – often, it is easier and quicker to merely chalk the line than to mend a messed up buttonhole.

Applying a Strong Finish

Adding an extra clear finish is an excellent way to fortify a buttonhole for use in garments or items that are frequently laundered. This finish is usually seen as a half circle in the top of the buttonhole, which is created using a similar process utilized to produce the bar tack.
To apply the finish, thread the needle with a durable and strong thread and bring it up through the left side. Tie the thread off to the in-seam end securely, as tightly as possible. Make sure that the thread runs across the top portion of the buttonhole. Lastly, proceed to make a line of stitches that run across the top portion, allowing the thread to overlap the repeat of the stitches. Finally, fasten off the thread at the inseam end, trim the extra thread that is showing, and the buttonhole is complete.

Pro Tips For Sewing Buttonholes

When it comes to sewing a buttonhole, there are a few pro tips that can help you make this task much easier and efficient. Firstly, it is essential to use a good quality and sharp pair of scissors when cutting the buttonhole open. This will ensure a clean cut and diminish the chance that the edges will fray.
When marking the buttonhole on the fabric, do not simply use a pencil or a pen, as these may not be easily removed from the fabric. Instead, it is best to employ a tailor’s wax pencil or tailor’s chalk.
Finally, make sure to measure the size of the button that you are using to determine how long the buttonhole should be. Not properly measuring can lead to having a buttonhole far too large, making the effort required to sew it all void.

Aftercare for a Buttonhole

When it comes to taking care of a newly-sewn buttonhole, it is essential to be gentle. This is because the fabric fibers may be weak around the area, which can cause the buttonhole to be tampered and distorted with each use.
Avoid pulling the button-thread through the buttonhole, as this will stretch the fabric and consequently, the shape of the buttonhole. It is also recommended to place a stabilizer on the area of the buttonhole prior to each wash. This will provide an extra layer of protection and prevent the fabric from unraveling.

Alternative Methods for Sewing Buttonholes

In recent years, a variety of methods have been developed to help sew buttonholes without the use of a sewing machine. Many offer a much faster and arguably easier process than the machine buttonhole technique. These methods include the buttonhole crochet, hand sewn, and buttonhole stretch methods, which are popular and convenient alternatives.
The buttonhole crotchet involves crotching a series of loops horizontally and vertically where the buttonhole would be, creating a box-like structure. The hand-sewn method is a popular choice, as it allows the user to create a neat, accurate, and strong variety of shapes of buttonholes quickly and easily. Finally, the buttonhole stretch method incorporates a special stretchable thread that is woven through the buttonhole’s slits in order to provide elasticity and strength.

Effects of using the Wrong Buttonhole Foot on a Sewing Machine

When sewing a buttonhole, it is important to use the right buttonhole foot when using a sewing machine. Utilizing the wrong foot can cause the stitches to be too closely spaced, resulting in a weak and poor-quality buttonhole. This could mean having to redo the entire process, which is a huge hassle.
On the other hand, using a buttonhole foot that is too wide will also lead to problems. An overly wide buttonhole foot risks compromising the accuracy of the stitches and can distort their shape, leading to huge margin for errors. Therefore, it is essential to use the correct foot when sewing a buttonhole in order to ensure a successful task.

Different Types of Buttonholes

Button holes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are used for a variety of purposes. The most common are round and elongated button holes, and these are usually used for garments and accessories. Another popular type of buttonhole is the key-hole shaped, which is typically utilized for leather items and any other material that can withstand a thicker thread.
The bartack type of buttonhole is also becoming increasingly popular, and is characterized by its increased thickness and sturdiness. This type of buttonhole is perfect for clothing that is subject to wear, especially kids clothing and outerwear. Finally, the double-stitch button hole is unique, as it incorporates two rows of stitching that are intertwined with each other.

Maintenance and Care of Buttonholes

When it comes to buttonholes, there are some simple maintenance and care steps to follow in order to ensure a long life of the item. For example, when washing items that contain a buttonhole, it is advisable to first secure the area with a stabilizer or buttonhole tape. This extra layer will prevent the fabric from unraveling from the strands of the buttonhole.
It is also important to take note of the type of material that has been used for the buttonhole and to accordingly follow the fabric’s care instructions. Generally speaking, garments and accessories with buttonholes should be washed in a delicates bag or hand washed with a gentle detergent and cool water. Non-matching thread colors should also be avoided when sewing or repairing buttonholes as this can compromise their overall look.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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