If you haven’t made bound buttonholes before, sit down and make a few in a row, you will soon get the hang of them. They aren’t hard – you just need to be accurate. When stitching small areas like this, even an error of 1mm is noticeable – I try to be accurate to within 0.5mm. And of course 100% wool is more forgiving than the junk I am working with polyester/viscose/elastane.
I always make a sample buttonhole before beginning one on the actual garment, it is handy to check that you have cut the correct width of welt, determine how far you need to clip, pressing technique, and all those little reassuring things, you know, before you cut into the real thing…..
Your front panels should be blockfused.
Cut rectangles for buttonhole welts to the following measurements:
- finished buttonhole length + 2cm
- finished buttonhole width x 4, + cloth allowance, ie a little bit extra
Finished buttonhole length = button size + button thickness.
The width can be whatever you like – I like 3mm welts, so the width of my finished buttonholes is 6mm. I cut these welts 28mm wide (24mm + 4mm cloth allowance):
Mark the centre of the rectangle with a light press, then hard press the edges to the centre line so that the edges butt:
Stitching the welts:
Place welts, raw edges uppermost, on right side of garment and align button position markings exactly. Ensure welt is perpendicular to front edge.
Stitch along the centre of a welt, between the dots marking the finished buttonhole length. Check length is accurate and stitching is perpendicular to CF:
Stitch along the centre of the other welt between your dots, and once again check the length is accurate – stitching should start and finish even with first line of stitching (or to within 0.5mm) – it can be useful to count your stitches as you sew to achieve this. The two lines of stitching should also be parallel:
Have fun repeating this exercise in accuracy for all your other buttonholes 😉
Check again that all stitching is parallel, perpendicular to the CF, and equal in length. You can see I do a lot of checking! Accuracy is the secret, so now is the time to unpick and make it perfect – once you have cut it is too late…..
Making the cuts:
Without cutting the front, cut down the centre of the welt between the butted edges to separate them:
Now cut the actual buttonhole opening. I first fold it in half and nick the middle with the tip of my shears:
Then cut towards the corners, stopping 6mm short of the ends. Clip diagonally into the corners, clipping close enough that your corner will turn smoothly, without clipping past the corner. This is where you will be thankful that you did a test buttonhole – you did do a test buttonhole, didn’t you? 😉
Turn the welts through to the wrong side, being gentle with the corners:
They will look a bit random to begin with, but don’t worry – a light press and a wiggle will square them up:
The end is in sight:
To stitch down the ends of the buttonholes, first ensure the corner is sitting square:
Repeat for the other end, then trim and grade the ends of the welts to reduce bulk:
Facing the buttonhole:
Now you will need to make an opening in the front facing to make your buttonhole functional and cover the raw edges.
Placement of the opening on the front facing may differ to the placement of the buttonhole on the front, due to turn of cloth. Once the front facing is attached, buttonhole positioning can be offset 3-6mm, so I determine the exact placement once the front facing is on. To do this, place pins through the corners of the buttonhole to mark its exact position on the facing. Mark 3mm in from the ends with dots.
Cut rectangles of silk organza about the same size as the buttonhole welts, and using your dots as a guide, sew them to the right side of the front facing in a rectangle the same size as your finished buttonhole:
Clip the buttonhole opening as before, then turn the organza through to the wrong side and press:
Slipstitch the edges of this opening to the reverse of your buttonhole:
Now your buttonhole looks almost as good on the inside as the outside!