Monday, January 23, 2012

LTTSA: Just a Little Buttonholin'

January is flying by! Have you started on your projects yet? If you are doing the bear carrier like me, at least it's a fairly quick sew. And if you are like me, you tend to let finishing touches like buttons and buttonholes linger on these little projects far longer than they need to. Why? I don't know.

Since you are all such good seamsters, you probably know your way around a buttonhole. But maybe there are a few of you out there who have been avoiding them. I thought I'd show you how very easy they are, just so you know :)

I did not pre-mark my pieces as called for. I'm a bit of a hoodlum that way. But it's very ok in this case because it's the nature of the project that the button and hole don't have to be in exactly the right places, not like a shirt placket or something. Anyway, I've never really found a marking tool I was crazy about until I bought this chalk retractable pencil. Totally worth it. So the first step is to mark your line at the appropriate angle, about as long as your button.

Now find your buttonhole foot. This shouldn't be too hard- it's the one that's REALLY long. There is an adjustable bit in the back where you clamp your button in place. This will tell your machine exactly how long to make the hole to fit that button. Magic! Or simple mechanics, whichever.

So place your fabric under with the front of the line you drew under the needle. There should be little red lines on the foot or something similar so you can make sure things are centered. Then you lower the buttonhole lever, as I'm doing on the left there, and make sure it rests behind the latch on the foot. 

At this point, you should probably (definitely) make sure you have chosen the correct buttonhole stitch. You want the one with bar tacks at both ends. Consult your manual.

Now is the fun part- just gun it. The machine does the whole thing, reinforces it, and just stops when it's done. 

Repeat on the other side and you have two beautiful buttonholes. Except, you still have to give them the hole part.

Put a pin thru the top bar tack and use your seam ripper to make the hole from bottom to top. (Point sharp object away from yourself.)

Of course, every machine does things slightly differently, but most computerized ones will probably be similar to this. So read up in your manual. Mine also has a foot just for sewing on the buttons, which is fun since you know I like to avoid even the tiniest amount of handwork. But you really don't need a foot, you can also try dropping the feed dogs and setting a zig zag stitch on zero length and 3.5-ish width. (Width will vary with the button of course.)

So we still have a week to finish up, actually two weeks to join the link party at the end of the month since I always give a little grace time. And don't forget about this month's fantastic prize from Liesl Gibson. Have you thought about what digital pattern you would pick?? I would definitely go for the jumprope dress if I could win!


  1. hey i think we have the same sewing machine! good tips, jessica. i still definitely procrastinate buttonholing. so nerve-wracking that it's the last step in the process and it's so easy to mess it up!

  2. I just finished up mine tonight. I procrastinating on the velcro!

  3. I've had my pieces cut out for the bear carrier for more than a week and can't seem to find the motivation to sit down at the sewing machine! My last experience with buttonholes was not great, so I'm also avoiding that too.
    I'm excited to get back into the sew-along mode and see everyone's projects again!

  4. What a fancy buttonhole foot! I'm envious.

    Though I shudder at the thought of using a seam ripper to open a buttonhole. I'm a buttonhole cutter sort of gal. Having never used a seam ripper, I can't really say why it's better; it's simply the way I was taught and the way I've always done it.

  5. makes me feel SO much better seeing that I'm not the only one with this thing done except for the closures. haha. I've had that baby stitched up for a week now except for those buttonholes. And they're not hard...I think I'm just lazy. I'm getting evil looks from my youngest though, so I really better finish up her carrier!

  6. Thanks for the buttonhole advice! I need to do that pin thing over the bar tack. I can't wait to see everyones projects!

  7. Looks great... can't wait to see the whole thing. I can't remember if I have to post in a certain place to say that I want in on this... so hope this will get it done by mentioning here, but I want to join the sew-along. I've got it all cut out - hoping for some time tonight after the kiddos go to bed.

  8. I've actually never used my buttonhole foot. I will try to correct that, on the double! Thanks for sharing, Jessica!

  9. crap. i forgot i was going to play along! i suck... better get to work! p.s. i got the fabric yesterday! i totally cracked up at your note!!!! i love exclamation points too!!!!! ;)

  10. okay, I did a project, not the bear carrier, but another LTTS project. I don't know how or where to upload the picture. Do not laugh at my computer illiteracy. Normally, I would hide this shameful fact and ask my live in tech support (my lovely husband) to help me, but he's not home. Help!

  11. So, I sew. You know, like people who can make rice can say they cook. :) I seriously did NOT know what that thing was that came with my sewing machine (I inherited it from my mom), you know, that's sorta like a ruler? Um...that you said was for buttonholes!! And I've been putting off finishing a cute cute cute dress fro my little girl...because it has buttons. And I wasn't sure who to ask. So, THANK YOU!!!


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