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How to Sew a Buttonhole By Hand

Learn how to hand sew a buttonhole for those delicate pieces or if you don't have a machine.

Updated May 15, 2019
How to Sew a Buttonhole By Hand

If you are sewing a new garment or adding buttons to any fabric piece, you need to know how to make buttonholes. If you don't have a machine or prefer to do it by hand, then you need to learn how to make buttonholes by hand.

It's not as simple as cutting a slit into the fabric but it is fairly straightforward when you understand the steps and how to correctly create the hole so it lasts. Always do a test run on a scrap piece of fabric of the same type you will be using before making a buttonhole on your final piece.

Messing up this hole can ruin a garment, so it is vital you get it right.

When it comes to buttonholes, it is important that the hole fits the size of the button you are using. It is also important that it doesn't widen with use. That's why slitting open a strip won't work. Once you start moving the button in and out, it will start to fray and eventually open too far to hold the button. We will teach you everything you need to know with this How to Sew a Buttonhole By Hand tutorial.

There are several different methods to hand sewing a buttonhole. In the tutorial below, we are doing the simplest method, which is perfect for beginners. If you are experienced, you can still follow along but feel free to use the buttonhole stitch or another fancier stitch to finish your buttonhole.

With this tutorial, you will learn how to make a buttonhole like a pro. This is beneficial if you are making a new shirt, coat, or purse or if you want to add buttons to already made projects that didn't feature them before.

Watch the How to Make a Buttonhole video tutorial that's at the bottom of the page to show you how to make a buttonhole on a sewing machine or keep going to follow along with our step-by-step directions and pictures for how to make a buttonhole by hand.

Project TypeLearn a Technique

Time to CompleteUnder an hour

Sewn byHand

Beginner

Materials List

  • Needle
  • Strong thread
  • Button
  • Fabric pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors/utility knife
  • Quilting pins

How to Sew a Buttonhole by Hand

General Notes:

  • As long as you are using your button as a measurement device, your holes should be the correct size. You can also use the ruler to make precise measurements. Remember the hole needs to be slightly bigger so that the button can be pushed through.
     
  • If you are creating a buttonhole for an odd-sized button, measure the widest diameter. If your button is thicker than the average button, you may need to make the hole opening wider by cutting away an extra strip of fabric.

Instructions:

  1. Mark your buttonhole using your button and fabric pencil. Place the button over the area of the fabric where the buttonhole will be made. Draw a line on either side of the button. Pick up the button and draw a perpendicular line that connects the two lines you drew first. Use a ruler or straightedge to make the line straight.

  2. Place the quilting pins through the two edge lines to prevent you from cutting through the desired buttonhole length.

  3. Cut through the buttonhole line using scissors or a utility knife. Be sure that if you are using the utility knife that you have a self-healing mat or something for protection underneath. Remove the pins.

    Note: As mentioned previously, if your button is thick, you may need to cut out more fabric in your slit. Measure the button and then the fabric and cut as needed.

  4. Thread your needle. Stitch around the entire buttonhole opening. You want to use a strong and tight stitching method. Some of the best easy stitches for this sewing project are the blanket stitch, the straight stitch, or the stem stitch.

    Note: Use strong thread or double the string so that it is stronger. Always use a color of thread that matches your fabric or a color that you want to see as it will be visible.

  5. Lock your end stitch when finished and cut off excess thread.


This video tutorial by Angel Peterson on How to Make a Buttonhole Using a Sewing Machine is super helpful if you use a machine to sew. Master both by hand and machine and you will be ready for any buttons!

Read on for more beginner tutorials and projects >>
Have you ever sewn your own buttonhole?

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Buttonholes aren't the easiest sewing project but it's helpful to know how to do it when needed!

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