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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Technique Tuesday: How To Sew a Buttonhole With The Sewing Machine

Today we are going to tackle the buttonhole-dun dun dun.  When I first started sewing, buttonholes were very intimidating to me.  I couldn't understand how the silly sliding buttonhole foot worked, and I made a very simple process far too complicated. So, if  you have any anxiety about creating a buttonhole with your machine's buttonhole stitch and foot, today is the day to overcome your fears.

Some of the basic supplies that you'll need are:

Button to be attached
Buttonhole presser foot (should come with your machine)
Garment or project in need of the buttonhole
Seam Ripper
Marking pencil
Fray check

To begin, you will want to mark the buttonhole placement on your garment or project. You will want to mark just above and below the button.  This mark will act as a placement guide when creating the buttonhole.

This is your buttonhole foot, every sewing machine brand's will be slightly different, but with the same basic parts.  In the front you will see some green and red tic marks around the presser foot opening.  These will help you properly align your project under the presser foot.  The little metal part is the pin for attaching the foot to the sewing machine.  At the back there is a sliding button guide plate.  This will allow you to create the perfectly sized buttonhole.  Between the pin and the guide plate, are small marking measurements that make up the presser foot scale (hard to see in the picture).

Take the button to be attached, and place it in the button guide place. Extremely large buttons may now work with your presser foot.  Odd shaped buttons can be accommodated, and we'll talk about that later.

You can remove the button from the guide plate if you like, but I prefer to keep it in place as I create my buttonholes.  Doing so prevents the guide place from shifting as the garment is moved under the presser foot.  

Attach the presser foot pin to your sewing machine.

Lower the buttonhole lever.  It should sit right behind the front plastic tab on the buttonhole foot.

 Select your buttonhole stitch.  Some machines have several different buttonhole stitches.  This is the standard buttonhole stitch for my machine.  It works well for most fabrics, and has bar tacks that run along both ends of the buttonhole.

My buttonhole stitch is created by funning front to back.  Align the red markings on your buttonhole foot, with the front of the buttonhole markings that you placed on your material.

Once your machine is set up, all that you have left to do is create the buttonhole.  Apply consistent pressure to your foot pedal, and allow the stitch to run the programmed cycle.  DO NOT pull or tug on fabric to get it to feed through the machine. If you are having trouble with your machine feeding the material through, you may want to adjust your presser foot pressure.  Even stitches will be created as you let the feed dogs do their job.  The buttonhole stitch should have built in reinforcement stitches to begin and end the cycle.  When it is through creating the buttonhole, it will either beep or stop, depending on your machine.

 Cut the threads on your buttonhole. Place a pin on one end of your buttonhole, just before the bar tack. Using your seam ripper, slice through the center of the buttonhole, and avoid hitting the pin, or cutting through your stitching lines.

Apply fray check or block to the raw edges on the inside of the buttonhole.  Doing so will prevent fraying.

That's it.  A basic buttonhole.  Easy Peasy.

My machine has several additional buttonholes that can be used on various projects and materials.

I'm not going to go into detail on every type of buttonhole, but here are the basic uses:

1-Horizontal buttonholes with thin and medium weight fabrics.
2-Horizontal buttonholes on areas that are subject to strain.
3-Horizontal buttonholes on thick fabrics.
4-Buttonholes for stretch or knit fabrics.
5-Buttoholes for stretch fabrics.
6-Keyhole buttonholes for thick or plush fabrics.
7-Keyhole buttonholes for medium weight and thick fabrics.
8-Horizontal buttonhole for thick or plush fabrics.

 At times you'll have a thick or rounded button that won't securely sit in the guide plate.  In this case you can manually adjust the guide plate to the needed size. To do so, all you need to do is measure the height (minus shank if present), and the width of the button.  In the case of the brass button, it was 1.5 cm wide, and 1.0 cm tall.  So I adjusted my button presser foot to 25 mm.  You can't see them well on the buttonhole foot, but there are markings along the center section of the buttonhole foot.  On my buttonhole foot, each marking is 5 mm apart.  You can check your user manual for specifics on your particular foot.

Once my buttonhole foot was adjusted, I had the perfect sized buttonhole for my odd little button.

Now, you don't need a buttonhole foot or stitch to create a buttonhole, but it sure does make it much easier.  Using a narrow zig zag stitch, you can easily create your own buttonholes, it will just take a bit more work.  

1 comment:

Emily said...

Nice buttonholes! I will try the fray check- that's a great idea! PS I don't have a buttonhole foot but I should still practice. :)