doing things the victorian way

Tag Archives: buttons

Handmade buttonholes are time consuming, I’ll admit, but I always find them much more secure than those made my machine. Before I begin the tutorial I should note that it’s best to stitch buttonholes through at least two layers of fabric or a layer of fabric and interfacing. This ensures that the buttonhole will remain strong and resist stretching. As to the type of thread to use, in this tutorial I use a double layer of 3owt. cotton but almost anything will do, including embroidery floss and even crochet thread. So, let’s get started.

First, determine the length you would like your buttonhole to be by measuring the button you plan on using. Buttonhole size should be determined by adding the diameter plus the thickness of the button. I prefer a tighter buttonhole as they tend to stretch eventually but if you’d like a little wiggle room, add two millimeters to overall measurement. Mark fabric.


Next, using a simple backstitch, stitch along the outline of your marking.


Stitch two rows of backstitches. This will help secure the fabric once it has been cut and as you work the buttonhole stitch.


Next, carefully pierce the fabric through which the button will eventually pass. You can use an awl or simply a small, sharp pair of scissors. Pierce near the corner where you wish to start working the buttonhole stitch.


Enlarge the hole just slightly with a pair of scissors. I prefer to cut as I stitch as opposed to cutting the whole buttonhole all at once. I find this works better as it eliminates fraying and slipping of the backstitches. Bring needle and thread up through the fabric on the outside of the backstitches near a corner to begin buttonhole stitch.


Begin the buttonhole stitch by passing the needle and thread through the buttonhole opening. Do not pull taut. Instead, bring up the needle directly left of where the thread originally emerges. Take that thread and bring behind the needle, wrapping it around the front of the needle and hold taut as you pull the needle through.



Continue stitching around, carefully clipping the fabric as you go.


To finish off, bring needle and thread through the fabric to the back directly next to last stitch made. Run needle and thread through a series of stitches along the back and simple trim.


And now you’ve got a buttonhole!