How to Hand-Sew a Buttonhole

comments (0) March 3rd, 2009     

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CalPatch cal patch, contributor
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I love the handmade look of these buttonholes! They have a lot more character than machine-made ones.
I used a 1-inch hem as my facing, but you may not need to do this if your piece already has two layers to it.
Mark the placement of your buttonholes.
I love the handmade look of these buttonholes! They have a lot more character than machine-made ones.

I love the handmade look of these buttonholes! They have a lot more character than machine-made ones.

Photo: Cal Patch
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Technology in sewing buttonholes by machine is incredibly advanced these days: Pop a button into the special foot, press a button, and a perfectly sized buttonhole is done in a moment. But there are many reasons why you might want to sew a buttonhole by hand, and most people don't even realize it's possible! If you don't have access to a machine, or yours doesn't make particularly nice buttonholes (it happens), or you're making something delicate that might not survive the heavy needling of a machine-made hole, or you just want a handmade one for aesthetic reasons, a hand-stitched buttonhole could be the solution. You might just never go back!

All you'll need is some heavy-duty buttonhole or quilting thread (or embroidery floss), a needle, something to mark the placement with, and a ruler if you need to plan out the placement of several holes.

Buttonholes should always be stitched through a minimum of two layers of fabric, so if you only have one layer where you want the hole(s), you'll need to do a fold-back facing (essentially a wide hem) or a separate one. If your fabric is very thin, insert a layer of interfacing in between. I began by stitching a 1-inch hem, which will be my facing.


I used a 1-inch hem as my facing, but you may not need to do this if your piece already has two layers to it.

1. Mark your placement. Use tailor's chalk or another temporary marking tool to indicate the size and placement of the hole(s). They should be centered and evenly spaced. You might find it helpful to mark the center point of each hole for the next step.


Mark the placement of your buttonholes.

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posted in: , embroidery, buttons, hand sewing, buttonhole, blanket stitch