Essential Skills Library
Simply Sewing|Issue 27

Master essential sewing and dressmaking techniques with our cut-out-and-keep guides. This issue, we take you through how to work a perfect buttonhole by hand or machine.

When you’ve spent a lot of time making a piece of clothing, it’s worth paying special attention to the finishing touches. A well made buttonhole will really set off your finished project. There are various different types and styles of buttonhole which can be worked by hand or by machine – they simply require a little practice. It’s best to always make a sample first to be sure it fits properly and looks neat.

POSITIONING BUTTONHOLES

First, you need to decide in which direction to place your buttonholes. On a pattern, these will usually be marked by short lines. You don’t have to follow this and it may be better to change the direction and placement depending on the fit and style.

Buttonholes on a fabric band, such as on a blouse, or on lightweight fabrics are usually vertical as they take up less room. However, they’re more likely to come undone under strain than horizontal buttonholes.

Try your finished garment on to check the buttonhole positioning. Make sure that you have one placed exactly level with your full bust point and waist then space the others evenly apart from this point. Make sure that the button doesn’t extend over the edge of the garment when closed.

To work out the finished size of your buttonhole, measure the length of the button, add the depth to this and then add 3mm ( ⁄ in). This works for most fabrics, but you may need to add a more on heavier weights. Once you’ve worked out your positioning and spacing, mark the top and bottom of each buttonhole on the right side of your fabric then join these with a pencil line. Keep in mind that women’s clothing traditionally buttons up right over left and men’s clothing buttons up the opposite way.

BUTTONHOLE STYLES

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