How to Sew a Buttonhole Using a Sewing Machine

Buttonholes are a daunting prospect of any making project, the foot alone looks complex enough with all it’s moving parts! However once you’ve had a few attempts they are incredibly easy to do.

Most sewing machines come with the ability to do buttonholes, they’ll either have the one-step or four-step system, both are very similar and equally easy to master, however the one-step buttonhole foot requires a little less effort on your part!

The one thing to remember when embarking on your buttonhole is to stitch the button on AFTER you have done the hole, just in case the positioning of the hole differs from what you’d originally planned. It’s always best to do a trial run of your button hole on a scrap piece of material, this will allow you to see if you have made the hole big enough for your button to fit through.


Four-Step Buttonhole Foot

The shorter of the two is known as a sliding buttonhole foot, it’s used for a four-step buttonhole where you alternate between horizontal and vertical stitches of the buttonhole using the stitch selector dial on your machine. To get the correct size hole you will need to measure the diameter of the button, you will then need to draw a horizontal line the length of the measurement, plus an additional 3 to 5 mm dependent on the size of your button, (you may need to add more than 5mm if you’re using a particularly large chunky button)  where you would like the buttonhole to be positioned using a pencil or a tailors chalk.

Attach the foot to the machine. Using the line as a guide stitch the buttonhole, always making sure that the needle is out of the bed of the machine when alternating  between stitches on your machine. Once complete insert a seam ripper centrally just above the base of the stitched horizontal line, then carefully rip the fabric until just before the top horizontal line, and hey presto you have yourself a buttonhole!


One-Step Buttonhole Foot

The second longer foot is called an automatic buttonhole foot (used for a one-step buttonhole). You simply select the buttonhole function on your machine, lower the presser foot, pull down the buttonhole lever and apply pressure to the foot pedal, and the machine does the rest! There is an adjustable gauge on the back of the foot which you put your button in. In turn this allows the sewing machine to determine the size of the buttonhole needed. I usually do two rounds of this process just to make sure that all the stitching is nice and secure, after this all you need to do is use the seam ripper to open up the hole in the same way you would if doing a four-step buttonhole.

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