I’ve already posted a tutorial on bound buttonholes, but I’ve made a few refinements to my technique while sewing the buttonholes on my cape so I’ll share them with you here. There is a small amount of hand sewing involved, but it does reduce a layer of bulk around the buttonhole edges so it is worth it!
This time I machine tacked the buttonhole positioning – I tacked a horizontal line through the centre of each buttonhole, and vertical lines marking either end:
This gives an accurate guideline where to start and stop stitching. It is especially helpful when doing a line of buttonholes – it helps to keep that line straight, and to achieve parallel buttonholes of equal length at an equal distance from the front edge – I won’t skip this step next time!
Next cut a square for the buttonhole welts – I have decided it is better to cut a slight rectangle, or mark the top edge or something, to avoid this! I like to cut mine on the same grain as the front, so the buttonhole is less conspicuous. You can cut them across the grain so they contrast a little more, or cut them on the bias which is nice if you have stripes, or whatever – just cut them all the same way!
Cut width of welt = (finished width of welt + 1cm) x 4
I am working on the collar stand, which I have blockfused. This helps prevent a) a frayed disaster, and b) frayed nerves! I fused the welt too, but you don’t have to.
With right sides together and the square centred over the soon-to-be-buttonhole, tack it into position along the horizontal guideline:
Shorten your stitch length and stitch the top and bottom edges of the buttonhole. Start with the needle exactly on the vertical line, 3mm (1/8″) above the horizontal line (this is half a foot width for me):
Stitch parallel to the horizontal line, finishing with the needle exactly on the opposite vertical line:
Stitch again on the other side of the horizontal line:
You can remove the horizontal lines of tacking now as they are no longer needed, keep the vertical ones though:
When weaving in the thread ends, but be sure to weave the ends away from the soon-to-be-clipped area or you will cut them, and your buttonhole will start falling apart!
I usually do all my buttonholes to this stage, then check they are all the same size/shape/parallel/etc before the cutting stage.
Cut through the width of the buttonhole welt between the stitching lines:
I found it beneficial to press the welts (but not the ends) toward the buttonhole at this stage:
Now cut the buttonhole opening – cut to within 6mm of the ends:
…then clip into the corners. I found this is where those vertical guidelines are of real benefit as they mark the exact point to clip to!
Turn the welts through to the wrong side, taking care not to strain the corners:
Fold the welts around the edges you have just cut, so they ‘bind’ those raw edges:
The reverse will look like this:
It is tempting to press at this stage, but don’t! Instead stitch in the ditch to position the welt evenly 3mm all the way across:
I used a hand backstitch so my stitching was invisible, manipulating the layers between my fingers as I stitched to form a firm and even 3mm wide welt:
You could probably machine this part if you think your thread will be well disguised, like in a tweedy fabric for instance. Here is the reverse after stitching in the ditch by hand:
Now close the ends, by folding back the front edge, and stitching across the clipped triangle. Give the triangle a slight tug to square the corners:
Here the advantage of cutting your welts in one piece is revealed – make sure the cut ends of your welt line up for a really square end, like the picture above and not the picture below! I like to stitch across the triangle once just to check everything is square, then backtack across it to secure more fully – having to unpick backtacking at this point is no fun!
See how the seam allowances at the ends (the green bits) unfold to become a single layer – this reduces bulk at the ends so they are flatter. The finished buttonhole should be square at the corners:
I hand overcast the welts together for pressing. Sometimes the welts can look slightly wider in the centre than at the corners, and you can draw them in a teeny bit with hand overcasting to correct this before pressing – this improved the squareness of mine:
Alternatively you can trim 1mm off the inner raw edges before binding – this might be necessary for thicker cloths.
I gave mine a good press, then trimmed the reverse like so – you could pink the long edge if you like:
Well, almost – you will need to make holes in the facing to make the buttonhole operational. I made windows using an organza patch and slipstitched them to the inside – this method is demonstrated in this tutorial (scroll down to ‘Facing the Buttonhole’ near the end):
This is my favourite bound buttonhole method because it has produced my best results to date! It is a ‘true’ bound method where the raw edges really are bound, rather than turned out. I particularly like how flat the finished appearance is – both the buttonhole welts and the area around the buttonhole have a similar finished thickness. This equalising of bulk helps to reduce pressing impressions, and makes this method suitable for heavier weight fabrics.
Hope this helps for happier sewing!