What I Do: Practice My Buttonholes

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I’m no Pollyanna. I’ve only ever made one muslin before and it was so off putting that I still haven’t made the actual dress. However, button holes are one of the few things I do actually practice.

I find inserting fasteners (zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks and eyes etc) to be the most difficult part of completing any piece of sewing. They often require hand sewing and they always require accuracy and a lot of time. Before I start sewing button holes I always practice them on a scrap of the same material that I’m using for the actual garment. For example when I was making my Vintagey Blouse I practiced stitching the button holes many, many times.


And lucky I did because the first fifteen were all awful. Do you practice before you sew?

Don’t forget: if you’re in Auckland in the weekend of 27-28 April were having a Sewing Meet Up. There’s already a great group of people interested in this inaugural event – are you? Let me know!


19 thoughts on “What I Do: Practice My Buttonholes”

  1. Tip: Always do a couple of practice buttonholes on a scrap of the fabric you will be using. Some fabrics, like knits or flannel, are kind of spongy and don’t feed as easily. You may need a longer stitch length on these. If your fabric is stretchy or slippery, you can stabilize it with a little fusible interfacing on the wrong side before stitching your buttonhole. Once you’ve done a practice one, cut it open and make sure that your button goes through easily.


  2. I certainly practice my buttonholes! Excessively. I have a buttonhole foot, too, and a special setting, but found that even within that, results are really variable – thread tension and mini-stitch length make a huge difference! And considering that buttonholes can be quite visible, I see it as time well spent 🙂


  3. It is very good to practice before making up the garment. Your buttonholes look very good. So precise. What type of thread did you use? I find silk buttonhole twist is sometimes too thick. If I use the regular poly/cotton thread by Gutterman the buttonholes seem to lack something in the way they look.


  4. Yes, I always practice my buttonholes, whether they are machine made or handmade bound ones. When they go right, they are fun to do, but sometimes the fabric makes them tedious and then it’s no fun at all!


  5. I always practice my button holes 2 or 3 times on the scrap fabric before doing the final buttonhole and even then I say a little prayer that I hope it comes out well! Button holes are always a huge pain to me!

    -Amy (www.thatssewamy.com)


  6. Wise to practice especially when working with difficult fabrics. Buttonholes used to be a problem for me until I bought a machine that had a buttonhole attachment. Having that makes all the difference. I agree that closures can be difficult… don’t much care for lining up snaps and hooks either… can be very tedious work.


  7. Ah, you must have a Pfaff too? That’s what pretty much every one of my (Pfaff’s) buttonholes look like, and it is a source of constant irritation for me. If you can get your hands on one of those vintage Singers with the attachment, no matter how expensive, buy that sucker. You won’t regret it. 😉 Either that or a mechanical with a four step buttonhole–I’ve never had any trouble with one of those either (unless I’m not paying attention or run out of bobbin).


    1. I have a Janome which serves me well 99% of the time. Yes I sometimes tune out when I’m doing button holes as they’re on auto-pilot if you know what I mean. It’s not a good practice :-/


  8. i always test out buttonholes on scrap fabric. my machine has an automatic buttonhole setting which makes my life much easier. i also use a tear away stabalizer to get cleaner/smoother stitches


    1. Ooh that stabiliser sounds like an interesting idea. I really needed something to steady my fabric when making this blouse! Yes I have a button setting and button foot. I think I’d avoid all buttons if it wasn’t for them!


  9. I find button holes tricky. If I am honest I find myself avoiding patterns that used excessive amounts of buttons purely because I worry they will turn out awful. Practice makes perfect though am I will certainly be brushing up on this skill. xXx


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