How to Use a Buttonhole Stitch

Buttonhole Stitch


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The buttonhole stitch is the strongest stitch for creating the edges of buttonholes. If part of the stitch is worn away or cut, the rest of the stitching will stay intact. This is due to knots created at the top of each stitch. The knots should be on the inside of the sewn buttonhole.

Why use a buttonhole stitch? You can just cut a slit in the fabric and fit a button through it, but that system won't last for long. The stitching around a buttonhole is integral to the buttoning piece. With the buttonholestitching in place, the ends of the fabric slit will have the strength and support needed to sustain lots of buttonings in the future.

  • 01 of 04

    Anchor the Stitch

    Anchor the sittch before you begin
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    Insert the needle into the wrong side of the fabric and pull all the way through. Stitch back into the fabric and out again in the same spot. This will ‘anchor’ your thread to create a strong start. You always want to anchor your thread with this little stitch to prevent unraveling later. End with your thread coming out of the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric.

  • 02 of 04

    Begin the Stitch

    Starting the buttonhold stitch
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    Turn your needle toward the fabric. Insert the needle in the wrong side of the fabric and pull out 1/4” from the edge. This will be the length of your buttonhole stitching, so decide how large your stitching should be. For the purposes of this tutorial, we're going with 1/4” because it is easy to see, but buttonholes usually use 1/8” length or smaller.

  • 03 of 04

    Secure It

    Pull the stitch tight to create a knot at the hole
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    Now let's secure it.

    1. Loop the thread under the tip of your needle where it is emerging into the ‘right side’ of the fabric.
    2. Pull the needle through the fabric and over the thread.
    3. Pull that stitch tight so that the looped thread creates a knot at the top of the fabric.
  • 04 of 04

    Repeat and Finish

    Buttonhole Stitch Tutorial
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    Repeat, inserting the needle into the wrong side of the fabric, emerging on the right side, and looping the thread under the tip of the needle before pulling through. The stitches should be very close together to create a wall of protective stitching around the buttonhole.

    Finish a buttonhole by satin stitching the top and bottom edges of the hole after you have applied the buttonhole stitches to the edges. This is one of the many stitches and techniques you can use in hand sewing.

    Now, are you wondering what size button should you use? Make sure that the button you choose for your piece does not rub against the edges of the buttonhole. With too much friction, the button will wear away the stitching that you so carefully put into place.