Buttonhole Stitch: Both Practical and Decorative!

Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 30, 2023
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The buttonhole is an opening in a garment that allows the button to go through for functional and decorative purposes Trusted Source Fashion archive: Buttons and beaux | Fashion | The Guardian Buttons are a mirror not only of fashion but also of social custom www.theguardian.com . The buttonhole stitch can be done by hand or using a machine. Some of the models present in the market make it more manageable for you to sew this type of stitch painlessly. Most of the sewing machines in the market incorporate this feature to appeal to the target demographic. When buying, ensure that you review all the features to guarantee that you buy the best sewing machine for buttonhole stitching.

If you get the blanket stitch right when handling your projects, then the buttonhole will not be a challenge for you. Most people confuse these two since they look the same, but the technique you use to get each is different. These two stitches share a purpose. Both are essential in any sewing project as they help secure the fabric edges.

What’s a buttonhole stitch

Buttonhole Stitch: Both Practical and Decorative!Traditionally, this is a stitch that seamstress used to finish the buttonhole to prevent fraying of the fabric, among other functions. The uses have evolved since. Currently, this stitch has a host of applications, and it plays a vital role in any garment construction process. The type of buttons you want to use for your project will determine certain aspects of this stitch, including but not limited to size. If you are working on a large project, ensure that the sewing machine you have can handle this type of stitch. Sewing by hand will take more time when compared to the machine.

How to stitch it?

You ought to familiarize yourself with the steps that you should follow to achieve the perfect buttonhole stitch. When using a sewing machine, confirm that it has this option. According to reviews, the Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine is one of the models that you can rely on to deliver the results you are after. This model has an assortment of desirable features that you will find useful when handling different projects. Here are the steps you have to follow to get the buttonhole stitch right.

Measure and mark the size of a button

The first thing you have to do is measure the size of the button you want to use. This will give you an idea of how long the buttonhole hole and by extension stitch should be. Mark on each side of the button to leave the measurements in place.

When using thicker buttons, remember to add an allowance to the overall width of the buttonhole. Once you have this locked down, you can move to the next step.

Mark the slit and stitch around it

Draw a line to join the two marks you made on each side of the button to guide you on making a slit in the fabric. Sew running stitches around the buttonhole space. This defines the buttonhole edges and plays a vital role in holding the stitches in place once you begin the buttonhole stitches. Do not cut the thread after sewing the running stitches.

Cut the opening

Once you have secured the edge, it is time to go in with scissors or any other tools you prefer and make the cut. Take caution not to cut through the markings you made earlier and the running stitches you have in place. Use sharp embroidery scissors. Start by snipping on one side, then carefully cut along the line.

Begin the stitch

Pick the needle with the thread still attached to the last running stitch you have in place. Pull the needle through the opening onto the top of the fabric. Start your buttonhole stitch by inserting the needle through the fabric slightly away from the running stitches. Bring the needle back up through the slit that you cut and pass the working thread behind the tip of the needle to secure the stitch you just made.

Continue with other stitches

The way you make the first stitch is how you handle the rest until you have covered the raw edges of the opening. Put the needle into the fabric away from the running stitch but not so far. Remember to keep the working thread behind the needle and pull through to complete a stitch. You can use your fingers to position the thread while pulling to ensure you get the stitch right. When using handheld sewing machines, this could be a challenge unless the model you have has an inbuilt buttonhole stitch.

Finishing touches

As you continue making buttonhole stitches, they form a pattern. Ensure that the threads lie close together to protect the edges for an extended period. Secure the thread once you are done using the various techniques available. Once this is done, you can fit your button and try out the buttonhole to see if it works perfectly.


The buttonhole stitch has a host of applications in the garment construction realm. Luckily, the sewing machines available in the market today can sew this stitch effortlessly. One of the popular models is the Bernette 38 SwissDesign Computerized Sewing Machine. It is recommended by many reviews from both experts and previous users. It is an inexpensive model with over 300 in-built patterns that you can explore. If it is your first time trying out the buttonhole stitch, do not try it on the cloth you are making. Try out your skills and practice on small swaths of fabric before you work on the garment. The best way to perfect your skills is by practicing using the many tutorials available. Ensure that you follow all the necessary steps to avoid removing the stitch, damaging the fabric with the buttonhole stitch.


Fashion archive: Buttons and beaux | Fashion | The Guardian
Buttons are a mirror not only of fashion but also of social custom
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