Search the internet for button and you’re likely to end up with pictures of Jenson Button the Formula 1 racing driver, which is not an unpleasant view though not much help if you want to learn how to sew one onto a garment! Search for Buttonhole and you end up with a plethora of wedding sites!
I searched good old Wikipedia to learn a little more about the background of buttonholes and found out that:Buttonholes for fastening or closing clothing with buttons appeared first in Germany in the 13th century.However it is believed that ancient Persians used it first. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe.
Traditionally, men's clothing buttonholes are on the left side, and women's clothing buttonholes are on the right. The lore of this 'opposite' sides buttoning is that the practice came into being as 'women of means' had chamber maids who dressed them. So as not to confuse the poor chamber maids, the wealthy began having women's garments made with the buttons and holes 'switched'; the birth of the modern ladies' blouse.
So, enough of the background onto the real work. The Sewing Directory had asked for guest bloggers to help with tips and techniques and so (as I have been sewing plenty of buttonholes and buttons lately) I thought it might be helpful to pass on my technique and also some links to others who have great skills in creating them by hand also!
When I got my first machine last year I was overwhelmed with the multitude of attachments that arrived and so have been slowly learning the techniques required to make the best use of them. One particular attachment was a sliding buttonhole foot! I didn’t have a clue what to do with this but my instruction book was quite clear so if you have a foot that looks like picture 1 below here are my tutorial steps to help you both sew a buttonhole and a button.
Step 1 - First you will need to look for a setting that looks something like picture 2 below. Most modern machines will have some kind of setting that helps with buttonholes but don’t worry if yours doesn’t, just skip to the bottom of my post and there are some useful links for creating a buttonhole on a machine without a specific setting and also by hand.
Step 2 - Following your sewing machine instructions affix the sliding buttonhole foot and thread your machine as you would for usual sewing.
Step 3 - Measure your buttonhole on your fabric. I usually do this by putting my button on the fabric (next to where I want the buttonhole to be) and drawing an I shape
Step 4 – The sliding buttonhole foot should have some kind of markers on it to help you with sewing your buttonhole. As you can see from the picture below my markers are on the left of the foot and are red. Place your fabric under the buttonhole foot and slide the foot so that the top arrow is aligned with the top of your I and the bottom of your I is aligned with the bottom red marker
Step 6 – Set your stitch dial to the number 1 as per the above picture. Ensure your needle is in the left position and put the needle into the fabric (as per picture 3 below) then begin to sew slowly. You will sew a long row of quite tight zig zag stitches - make sure you stop when you reach the bottom red marker.
Step 7 – At the bottom of your first row of stitches lift your needle out of the fabric and move your stitch dial to the number 2/4 setting. Sew 5/6 stitches on this setting and this will be the bottom of the buttonhole.
Step 8 –Lift your needle out of the fabric, ensure that it is in the right hand position and move your stitch dial to the number 3 setting. As per step 6 begin to sew slowly creating the right hand side of the buttonhole. Stop when your arrow reaches the original red mark (as per picture 4 below).
Step 9 –Lift your needle out of the fabric and ensuring it is in the right position move your stitch dial to the number 2/4 setting. Sew 5/6 stitches on this setting and this will be the top of the buttonhole. Lift up your foot and remove your fabric (picture 5), cutting the threads so there is enough room to tie the threads together for a final bit of security.
That’s the hard part done!
Step 10 – Put a pin across the top of the buttonhole and insert your seam ripper in the bottom of the buttonhole (picture 6). Carefully slide your seam ripper up the buttonhole, using the pin to protect the top of the buttonhole and create your opening. Depending on your type of fabric you may have little frayed bits of fabric inside your buttonhole, carefully snip these away to make your buttonhole neat but ensuring you don’t catch any of the stitching.
You have now created your buttonhole! Below is a picture of the finished article which was for an apron I had been making along with a few of the projects I have been making recently using the above 10 easy steps, a dummy/pacifier clip complete with sparkly button, a cute little purse and a fab summer dress. The World is your oyster now as there are so many projects that can be finished professionally with a buttonhole.
As I promised above I have also included some links at the foot of this post for a number of other buttonhole related articles covering links such as how to create a buttonhole by hand and how to create a buttonhole on a machine that doesn’t have a specific setting. I hope these are useful and you find the steps above leave you feeling brave enough to have a go – good luck. If you would like to read a little more about my adventures in sewing and crafts you can visit my blog by clicking on the Bella Boutique picture below
Knitted buttonhole - http://www.learn2knit.co.uk/knitting/buttonholes.php
Bound Buttonhole - http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/2010/10/bound-buttonhole-tutorial.html
Normal Buttonhole and corded buttonhole - http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=846
Hand Sew a Buttonhole - http://www.colettepatterns.com/blog/tutorials-tips-tricks/handmade-buttonholes
Buttonhole on machine that has no buttonhole setting - http://untilwednesdaycalls.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-manual-machine-buttonholes.html