Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bound buttonhole tutorial

Making a bound buttonhole can seem like a daunting undertaking.  Trust me, I know. I avoided them for years thinking they were "too hard" and way beyond my sewing capabilities.

Pshaw!  Yes, they do require pre-planning and definitely take more time than a machine-sewn buttonhole, but they really are not that difficult.  As with anything practice, practice, practice!   It's a good idea to work one (or two) in some of your fabric scraps before making the buttonholes in your garment.

The one I made on my capelet was sewn using the patch method.

Mark your buttonhole placement on your garment.

If your garment does not call for interfacing, be sure to apply interfacing to the wrong side of the garment under each buttonhole marking. 

Cut a piece of fabric for your buttonhole that is about 2" wider and 1" longer than the buttonhole.  Here's a fun tip:  the fabric doesn't have to match your garment.  Contrast or coordinating fabric is a fun way to highlight your buttonholes.

Fold the fabric patch in half lengthwise and finger press. This marks the center of the patch.

With right sides together, center the fabric patch over the marked buttonhole on your garment. Pin in place.

Baste the fabric patch in place. Remove pins.   Notice in this photo how my fabric shifted? I wasn't careful when I basted and had undo the stitches and redo them.

On the wrong side of the garment, mark lines about 1/8"to 3/16" around the buttonhole line.  Mine are 3/16" because the fabric (cotton velvet) is on the bulkier side. I'd mark 1/8" if I was using a lightweight fabric.

Using a small stitch length, stitch around the buttonhole line following the markings. To make sure I ended up with the same size rectangle, on the short side I turned the handwheel of my sewing machine and counted out the stitches. 

Cut through the center of all layers - the fabric patch and the garment - very carefully.  Make diagonal cuts to the corners.  If you accidentally cut through the corners go back and restitch.

Turn the fabric patch to the wrong side of the garment through the opening.

This is what it will look like on the wrong side.   You end up with a little faced "window" in the fabric.

Now you're going to make the lips of the buttonhole.

Fold each long edge of the fabric patch over the opening.  Make sure the folded edges will meet in the center. Pin in place.

This is what it will look like from the right side.

Handbaste through the center of each fold. The folded edges should meet at the center.

On the right side, baste the folded edges together using a diagonal stitch.  Lightly press.

Place the garment on your sewing machine right side up.  Turn the garment edge back to expose that small triangle end of the buttonhole.  Stitch in place. Repeat for the other triangular end. I use a zipper foot so I can get close to that edge.

Fold the garment back so the long edge of the buttonhole is exposed.  Stitch in place.  Repeat for the other long edge.

Get rid of some of the bulk by trimming the fabric patch so it is only about 1/4" away from the stitches you just sewed. 

At this point you can add continue sewing your garment, adding your facings or lining.

My capelet is fully lined.  Once the lining was in I needed to finish the back side of the buttonhole so I could actually use it.

I finished the backside of my bound buttonhole with something called the oval method.

Baste around the buttonhole to secure the lining (or facing) to the garment fabric.

On the right side of the garment, place a pin at the end of each buttonhole.

On the wrong side of the garment, draw a line between the pins. Make sure the line is drawn exactly over the buttonhole opening. You can feel the opening with your fingertips as you draw the line.

Remove the pins.  Very carefully cut the lining (or facing) open along the marked line. You don't want this opening to be larger than the buttonhole opening.   If you slip a bit just stitch it up.  It might not look as pretty but it also won't be noticeable, except to you. {smile}

Roll the raw edge of the lining (or facing) under.  Stitch in place.   A slipstitch would look nice.  Which is not what I did.  You should probably do as I say and not as I do, LOL.

You're now done!  See? That wasn't so bad was it?

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  1. Nice job - When I went to college years ago we had to learn how to make these in Textile class - great tutorial!
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  2. You did a great job. I can't wait to try this!

  3. Great tutorial!! Thank you ^___^

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    1. Thanks Alice. Just checked out your blog - fun!

  4. Anonymous1:19 AM

    Thanks, I've never used exactly that method so very useful to see it step by step. Nice lining :-)

    1. Your welcome! I've only done this method. My plans are to try different variations so I'm comfortable with them all.

  5. Thank you for a perfect tutorial, Sharon. I will bookmark this page, I will read it over and over, And I will make a bound button hole. To be honest, they scare me half to death!

    1. I know exactly how you feel! They used to terrify me, LOL. You'll be surprised once you do a few that they really aren't as difficult as you think.

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  7. Anonymous11:40 AM

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  8. Thank you for sharing the process of making it.

  9. Anonymous1:02 AM

    Hi, I just received a vintage mail order pattern that I purchased on ebay. It is for a toddlers dress and it calls for bound buttonholes. I'm planning on using a reproduction print quilter's cotton. Is there anything you would do to modify this technique for the lighter weight fabric? I'm not sure how I feel about using an iron on interfacing. Do you think it would be sufficient to baste in a lightweight fabric like organdy? Thanks in advance.



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