Monday, 27 September 2010

Tutorial: simplified bound buttonholes

First of all, let’s go through some general basics about buttons and buttonholes. 
  1. The vertical buttonhole is the most common, and when the garment is buttoned up, the button will be at one of the edges of the buttonhole. This type of buttonhole should therefore start 3 mm (1/8") outside of centre front line (or whatever line you're aligning your buttons at). 
  2. The horizontal buttonhole is mostly used for shirt fronts buttoned up with many small buttons. Different rules apply for this one, but sometimes the buttonhole starts 3 mm (1/8") above the button marking. The top button in a shirt is often sewn in so it meets the top of the buttonhole. The rest of the buttons are lined at the middle of the buttonhole, with aligned holes. 
  3. The general rule for buttonhole length is that it should be equal to the button diameter plus the thickness plus 3 mm (1/8"), but for the bound buttonholes we skip the extra 3 mm (1/8").
A bound buttonhole should not be wider than 6 mm (1/4"), so each inset is 3 mm (1/8"). My book also tells me to sew all the buttonholes at once, finishing the same detail on each buttonhole before moving on to the next detail. Apparently that's the trick to get them identical! There's different ways of marking up the buttonhole, but I have to say the method I've used for my test was very convenient, marking both edges and the centre front with machine basting. This technique is of course dependent on your fabric, and you shouldn't use it if the stitches will show after you've pulled the thread out. Hand basting with silk thread will be better for fine fabrics.

[Click on read more for, eh, more...]

Now for the actual buttonhole! 
Cut a patch of fabric 5 cm (2") wider and 2.5 cm (1") longer than the buttonhole. Lay the patch, right sides together, on the top of the centre line of buttonhole. I would pre-crease the patch to get the centre line of this. 

Machine baste along the centre line. Then machine baste exactly 6 mm (1/4") on each side of the centre line.

Fold the patch along the 6 mm (1/4") machine baste marking and press with your fingers. Sew (without backtack, leaving the thread ends long enough to tie) exactly 3 mm (1/8") from the fold, starting and ending at the marks for buttonhole edges. Use small stitch length, and do not cross the marked buttonhole edges! Repeat on the other side.

Both sides forming the inset are now done! Press open. 

On the wrong side, you'll see 5 rows of stitches. Measure the distance between each row, controlling that there's 3 mm (1/8") between each row. If not, I would advise you to start over again... 

If you've been patient and accurate, you can now tie the threads, and remove the machine basting.

Slash along the centre line of the buttonhole from the wrong side, stopping 6 mm (1/4") from the corners, and then cut diagonally into the corners.  Be careful not to cut the stitching or the patch! 

Cut across each ends of the patch, forming two individual strips on each side of the buttonhole.

Fold the strips through the opening towards the wrong side and baste the folds together avoiding the outsides of the buttonhole (oops, I didn't do this! I would make sure to do this though, as this helps the garment keeping the grain).

The wrong side should now look like this:

Place the garment with right side up and fold over the buttonhole so the triangle at the short side of the buttonhole shows. Stitch along the edge over the triangle fastening this to the strips. Repeat on the other side.

Trim ends to 6 mm (1/4")

If you're using facing, you should pin or baste the facing around the buttonhole, then place pins through all four corners of each buttonhole. Mark the corners of the buttonholes on the right side of the facing. Remove the pins, and stitch with a short stitch length between the markings. This should form a rectangle the same size as the bound buttonhole. Cut through the facing and clip diagonally into the corners. The raw edges should then be turned in along the stitching, pressed, and sewn to the buttonhole.

All that remains now, is my true project, and not only test patches...


Signe said...

Hi Helene!

Very informative tutorial indeed It´s been many years since I last did buttonholes like this, so it was very nice to get a fresh take on it.
Will try it your way the next time.

Lots of love, Signe

Stephanie said...

Thanks for this tutorial! I love finding new and better ways of doing bound buttonholes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I will definitely be using this in the near future.