30 April 2015

How to Sew One-Step Buttonholes

How to sew one-step buttonholes


Ready to sew some buttonholes? Some people find buttonholes scary, but once you know how to do it I think they’re much simpler than sewing a zip closure. I’m going to walk you through how to sew one-step automatic buttonholes in this post, and offer some troubleshooting tips to help you have a stress-free button stitching experience.

Read up on making four-step buttonholes if your sewing machines makes this type instead. Your manual will tell you which kind you can sew on your machine.

Sewing machines do vary, so have a quick read through the buttonhole instructions in your manual too in case your machine works differently to mine. And no matter how many times you’ve sewn buttonholes before, it’s always a good idea to test a sample on a double scrap of interfaced fabric before attacking your real garment :)

Right, let’s do this!

How to sew one-step buttonholes

You machine should come with a buttonhole foot that looks something like this. Place one of the buttons you’re using for your project into the holder at the back of the buttonhole foot. Push the holder closed so it’s gripping the button tightly, making sure the button is lying flat. This will tell your machine the size of your buttons and thus how long to make each buttonhole. If your buttons are rounded or particularly thick, leave a little extra space as your buttonhole will need to be bigger (check exactly how much space you need by sewing a test buttonhole). Mark the buttonholes on the right opening of the garment in chalk pencil or washable pen.

How to sew one-step buttonholes

Attach the buttonhole foot to your sewing machine, with the button holder at the back. Position the fabric underneath the foot so the needle is just above the bottom end of the buttonhole marking. Pull the needle thread through the buttonhole foot and to the left – you can hold onto this thread for the first few seconds of sewing so it doesn’t get caught in the stitching. Once it’s in position, lower your presser foot. This bit is super important for one-step buttonholes: there’s a little lever to the left of the needle – pull this down as far as it will go.

How to sew one-step buttonholes

Turn your machine on and select the automatic buttonhole stitch (check your manual if you’re not sure which one this is). Start sewing, and the machine will automatically sew all four sides of the buttonhole and stop stitching when it’s done. Hurrah! Once your machine comes to a stop, you can move on to the next buttonhole.

How to sew one-step buttonholes

Occasionally automatic buttonholes like to go crazy and do their own thing, such as sewing much longer sides than you actually need. Troubleshooting tips:

1. Check that the button is lying flat and wedged tightly in the holder on the foot;

2. Check that the lever to the left of the needle is pulled down all the way;

3. Make sure you keep sewing until the end of each buttonhole sequence (when the machine stops stitching by itself) before starting the next one;

4. To be extra certain the machine knows you’re starting a new buttonhole, between each buttonhole you could reset the stitch type to another one and then back to the automatic buttonhole stitch. Or turn the machine off and on again ;)

How to sew one-step buttonholes

Open up each buttonhole by inserting a seam ripper into one end and carefully tearing to the middle. Then insert the seam ripper into the other end of the buttonhole and tear towards the middle until the whole thing is open. If you are worried about accidentally ripping through the side of the buttonhole, you could insert a pin into either end as a buffer. Trim the frays and you’re done!

Now you can sew lovely buttonholes on your Arielle skirt, Rosa shirt or dressMathilde blouse or Mimi blouse. Enjoy!

PS. If you’d like to watch a video lesson on making buttonholes, check out my online workshop, Sew Your Own Shirt or Shirt Dress.

16 comments:

  1. I so needed to read this.....I confess that I avoid buttonholes like the plague whenever I can. It's not even that difficult but because I do not do them frequently I forget the process. I think I am going to devote a couple of hours to brush up on my skills!
    Linda
    mysewwhatblog

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  2. One thing that used to confuse me about one-step-buttonholes, is that the machine starts at the bottom of the button hole (from the sewers point of view), and stitches backwards. I used to keep positioning my fabric in the wrong place, because I expected the machine to sew forwards on the first pass.

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  3. How neat and gorgeous are all the steps on this sew a long?
    Iam looking to upgrade my sewing machine and I need a one step button hole option so badly!

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  4. Thank you for posting this :) I have an older machine that does 4 step buttonholes but attended a sewing class in October that taught me how to do them on a slinky new machine. I remember being amazed that there weren't buttonholes in everything as the machine made them so easy to do!

    I tried to make some on my machine the other night and my foot wouldn't accept the button! It was too wide and smaller ones kept popping out. It took a while to research as I don't have the manual any more, but I found a video on YouTube by the manufacturer and it seems mine just travels the length you require instead of to the length of the button you've inserted in the foot. Bit of a shame but at least I can still do make buttonholes with a bit more practice!

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  5. I was having trouble with mine and realized that my fingers were blocking the little sensor. It took a while to realize what was going on but now I try really hard to keep my hands out of the way and let the machine to do its thing. xoxo

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  6. A tip for you:- If you put a pin in horizontal just before the end of the button hole opening you are cutting with your seam ripper you will have no accidents.

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  7. trimming the frays is not the best alternative if you only trim them.
    There's a special liquid kind of a glue that you can put all over, because no matter how good you are making the buttonholes the fabric frays if you don't use that glue once they are done.

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  8. I understood how to make the buttonholes with the foot but, was lost at how to mark fabric placement before stitching. There's also a line on the foot to aline at the start.

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  9. What gorgeous buttonholes your machine makes!!

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  10. I have the same machine as you and am having so much trouble with buttonholes - it only seems to want to sew the first bartack, what tension settings do you have the machine on?

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    1. Sorry to hear you're having trouble sewing buttonholes. I usually use regular tension settings, around 4. Have you pulled the little lever on the left down all the way? Also try resetting to a regular straight stitch, then resetting it back to the buttonhole function and try again. Good luck!

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    2. I had the same problem. I was not pulling the little lever all the way. Thank you so much.

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  11. I have just used a blue dressmaker pencil to mark the start of a buttonhole on my red Arielle skirt, but now the blue 'chalk' won't come off! Any tips on removing the chalk? I am never sure which is the best way to mark a buttonhole: tacking, erasable pen, or chalk, because once the buttonhole is sewn the mark/tacking is sewn over and cannot be accessed to remove it. Will any markings just come out in the wash, or will they spread into a nasty stain?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Susan - don't worry the chalk will come out when you wash the garment! Chalk pencils usually have a small amount of wax in them so the pigment adheres to the fabric, so warm water and detergent will get it out. I usually mark buttonholes with an erasable pen, just at the points where they begin and end. This way the markings are covered by the stitching!

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  12. Buttonholes on my Pfaff are super easy. My buttonhole foot plugs in. I select the size in mm on my machine and away it goes. I've never tried them on any other machine so when people say they don't like doing them I guess I'm just lucky to have my machine that does them like it does.

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    1. Lucky you! I agree, some machines seem to manage them easier than others.

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