Notions: Machine Button Holes

It’s confession time: I love, love, love Buttons & Button Holes! I am fortunate to have a Machine (aah Pfaff, you are wonderful!), which eats Button Holes for breakfast. Having worked on many Machines- new & old- which don’t do such great Button Holes I appreciate how wonderful this is.

I collect & use Vintage buttons where possible & here I have used some Vintage Linen Covered buttons, which I think are so beautifully utilitarian. This mini tutorial is from my Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial however; I get asked how to make Button Holes all the time so thought I’d post this little snippet again.

My best advice when contemplating Button Holes is to do many practice runs. This is even a good idea when more experienced sewers as it highlights issues with the Machines tension, thickness of fabric- if the fabric is too thin some backing or interfacing may be required & even the sewer themselves as it is very tempting to pull the fabric when making a Button Hole which creates uneven stitches.

Firstly, Buttons need to be chosen (woop!), then Button Holes need to be marked & made.


Measure the chosen Button, & add .5cm for ease to calculate the measurement of the Button Hole. For mine, I stitched 2cm Button Holes

Place the Buttons on the garment to decide where the best placement is. If you have been using a commercial pattern, there will be a Button guide printed & included however; I like to have a bit of a play with this. If using small buttons sometimes they look nice grouped in twos  or threes’ for example. When you have decided use the Buttons to mark where the Button Holes will start- Button measurement + .5cm for ease- & end as below.

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Above, left illustrates laying the Buttons out to arrange where they should be placed. Above, right illustrates the proper marking of a Button Hole with a line across & a line at each end showing where to stop stitching. 

Once the Button Holes are marked, the Button Hole Foot will need to be attached to the Sewing Machine. Without it Button Holes are worked by hand (which I shall cover in another post) or Rouleau Loops, Hooks & Eyes, Slide Bars or other fasteners can be used.

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With the Button Hole Foot attached, follow the Sewing Machines instructions to stitch the Button Hole. Mine starts at the bottom, then stitches the left hand side backwards, goes across the top, then back towards me to finish the right. A few practices should be made so that, when the final Button Holes are attempted, they are as neat as possible. The markings on any Button Hole Foot can also be used, as well as the markings drawn on the fabric, to ensure the Button Hole is stitched to the correct length. 

Cut the Button Hole open- carefully!- with Snips, Small Scissors or a Quick Unpick. It will fray a little however; with use this will stop. Match up the Waistband at the top again, and pin together. Use a pencil to mark the right hand side of the Button Hole through to the bottom layer, un-pin & place pins over the markings to make sure they aren’t lost. Sew the Buttons on over the markings, a tutorial for this can be found here.

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Illustrated above is the proper marking of the Buttons, highlighting the markings & the finished Buttons & Button Holes. 

There, easy peasy when you know how, right? Watch out for my next Zine which is all about Seams, and beginning to Sew and will have all sorts of interesting snippets of information for the beginner sewer!

Happy stitching!


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