Machine Embroidered Buttonholes

Click here to download this article as a PDF for future reference.

Many of you wrote that buttonholes are a struggle when it comes to sewing. I agree! One of the worst parts about adding a buttonhole is it’s just about the last thing you do when making a garment. I begin to sweat thinking about marking the buttonholes, spacing them evenly, stitching them perfectly straight, even and parallel. How many times has the foot jammed against the seam allowance resulting in a shorter than planned buttonhole?

Hmm… I don’t think it’s the machine. In fact, most machines have the ability to make a very professional buttonhole. The problem is the operator, me. My sewing/tailoring skills do not equal my embroidery skills. It might have something to do with my attention span but that’s material for another blog! If you’re like me, you might consider using your embroidery machine to create buttonholes.

Why machine embroider your buttonholes? The number one reason for me is control. Machine embroidered buttonholes give me total control over the length of the buttonhole and the placement because I’m starting with a digital file that will stitch perfect duplicates since I don’t have to guide the fabric under the foot.

So let’s take a look at how to embroider buttonholes.

First, select the buttons. Measure the buttons and add a small amount (such as .10 of an inch) to the diameter. That measurement will be the length of the buttonhole. Click here for four buttonholes for you to download. You’ll find two 1” buttonholes (square and round) and two 2” buttonholes (square and round). Resize the length only of the designs to accommodate your button.

Naturally, you must make a test buttonhole on the same fabric as the final garment. The sample must include the sample interfacing, facing or lining. You can’t cheat here – it’s the only way to guarantee positive results and this is when you’ll tweak the length.

Crisp or lightweight tear-away stabilizer works beautifully on buttonholes because it tears cleanly. Once hooped, draw a straight line down the length of the hoop to use as an alignment mark.

Insert the metal frame of Magna-Hoop Jumbo. It’s not mandatory to use Magna-Hoop Jumbo but it sure does simplify the task.

Place the garment edge next to the drawn line and place Magna-Hoop Jumbo’s acrylic frame on top. Slide magnets into the slots to hold the garment firmly in the hoop.

Attach the hoop to the machine and select the tested (and tweaked) buttonhole design. Rotate the design so it runs perpendicular to the garment edge for horizontal buttonholes. Also, advance to the first stitch to see what end of the buttonhole will stitch first. You want to stitch the end closest to the edge first and sew away from the edge. The fabric will not bulge next to the seam if you do this (a frequent occurrence in manual buttonholes). Rotate or mirror image the design if necessary.

Measure the distance from the garment edge to the end of the buttonhole. For pleasing proportions, it’s best to leave a space between the end of the buttonhole and the garment edge that is half the diameter of the button. For the 2” buttonhole, move the end of the design 1” from the garment edge.

Stitch the buttonhole.

Reposition the design to the next marked position. You won’t have to measure the distance unless you’re changing button sizes. Here I’m stitching the 1” buttonhole.

Continue adding the buttonholes until you’ve finished the required quantity.

Remove from the hoop and tear away the stabilizer. Use a seam ripper or a chisel and wood block to open the buttonhole. If using the seam ripper method, insert a pin at one end of the stitch to avoid slicing beyond the buttonhole.

Or place the buttonhole over a wood block, and insert the chisel into the space between the satin stitching. Press down to cut the fabric.

Design Tips: Buttonhole Placement

It can be challenging to determine evenly-spaced buttonhole placement. For garments, mark the widest point of the bust and the top of the garment. Fold the garment, meeting the top mark to the bust mark. Place a third mark at the fold. You now have the positions for the top three buttons. Measure the distance between two buttons. Use that measurement to mark the remainder of the buttons below the bust point.

Fuzzy Fibers

Place a piece of fusible web (protective paper removed) over the buttonhole area. Stitch the buttonhole. Tear away the excess fusible web. Press the buttonhole with a hot steam iron to melt the fusible web into the satin stitches. Once cooled, cut open the buttonhole. The fusible web will tame the fuzzy fibers.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave us a comment about your favorite In the Hoop Project from the SewAZ Embroidery Designs website. Four readers will each receive a $25 gift certificate courtesty of SewAZ Embroidery Designs to the website.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Download our FREE digital edition of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. Give it a read and enjoy all of the interactivity, photo zooming abilities, videos and beautiful photography captured for each stunning project. Then, come back and leave us a comment on what you think about it – good or bad, we can take it. One lucky reader will win a gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery for $25!

You can use that $25 to buy anything on our website including a 1 year subscription to our print magazine offered at the special price of $24.97 for a limited time only.

And the winner is…“I like the magazine in print form, and I was pleased to receive this digital copy. I love the navigation features and the ability to enlarge and reduce print and pictures to my needs. Thank you for providing this information-packed resource that embroiderers of all skill levels can utilize! Now I can carry the information with me in my jump drive wherever I go…woo hoo!.” – Sandy S.

Congratulations Sandy!

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40 Comments on Machine Embroidered Buttonholes

  1. Paule-Marie
    May 15, 2013 at 9:43 am (2 years ago)

    I had fun looking at SewAZ Embroidery. So many things to choose from. But I guess it has to be the wine coasters (i’m from wine country)

  2. Leanna Chideste
    May 15, 2013 at 10:17 am (2 years ago)

    Wow…so many wonderful designs at SEWAZ…but my favorite would have to be the adorable gingerbread house! Thanks for the chance to win.
    And that for the buttonhole tutorial:)

  3. Linda Lester
    May 15, 2013 at 10:19 am (2 years ago)

    #961 His N Hers eReader Covers
    This ITH design is perfect for my husband’s reader and mine! He doesn’t l ike “fru-fru”, so being able to make something more “manly” is just the ticket!

  4. Patty Happel
    May 15, 2013 at 10:27 am (2 years ago)

    I like the 3 zipper bag in every size. So useful!

  5. julie michael
    May 15, 2013 at 10:33 am (2 years ago)

    The zipper pouch is the best. They make a great purse for square dancing. Make them out of the same fabric as your skirt and use ribbon for the straps that fit on your belt.

  6. kbo
    May 15, 2013 at 11:23 am (2 years ago)

    How fun to stitch and send “Occasion Cards Print n Stitch”! They would be well liked by any recipient.

  7. Kathy
    May 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm (2 years ago)

    I love to make key fobs in the hoop. Great way to personalize them with the name and it makes a great gift

  8. Dana
    May 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm (2 years ago)

    My favorite In The Hoop project at Sewaz is the Snowflake Coasters. I made them as gifts for Christmas and everyone loved them.

  9. Beth R
    May 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm (2 years ago)

    I love the ITH luggage tag set. That is a great idea, and definitely stands out!

  10. Marlena
    May 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm (2 years ago)

    I love the binky bibs.

  11. Mary Haggenmaker
    May 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm (2 years ago)

    I really really like those zipper purses, the ones with the straps. I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t like lugging a big purse around all the time. I am in the process of ordering the 3 pocket version.

  12. Rachel D
    May 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm (2 years ago)

    I LOVE Linda’s Tote Play sets, I have several but my grand daughter loves the doll house & her custom doll that looks like her! My great nephews love their Old MacDonald & the Race Way totes! Keeps them busy for hours. I just realized she has some new totes, so I better go shopping again. lol

  13. Kathy
    May 16, 2013 at 3:12 am (2 years ago)

    Favorite in the Hoop Project from the SewAZ Embroidery Designs website is The Tote Doll House and next would be Gingerbread Man Bowl.

  14. le floch, anne
    May 16, 2013 at 3:55 am (2 years ago)

    I love the bat towel topper! Thanks for letting us discover this new site (new to me at least).Anne

  15. Jane
    May 16, 2013 at 5:35 am (2 years ago)

    Oh, my, how the great are they! I am partial to houses – so I would say the in hoop house block. Thanks for the chance.

  16. Cindy Amend
    May 16, 2013 at 6:35 am (2 years ago)

    I think that the 5 x 7 face zipper purse is my favorite. It does take two hoopings, but it is completely done in the hoop and would be great to wear around the neck when traveling as it will easily hold a passport and the very few things you need while shopping so that your hands are free.

  17. Patty Sack
    May 16, 2013 at 8:32 am (2 years ago)

    I like the baby and wedding keepsake books!

  18. Kathy M.
    May 16, 2013 at 11:12 am (2 years ago)

    My favorite are the zipper bags. I have made tons of these! Last year for Christmas, I made one for each of the ladies on my bowling league. They loved them!

  19. Donna F
    May 16, 2013 at 11:23 am (2 years ago)

    I loved checking out there website. There are a lot of projects there that I would like to do. I think my favorite ITH project is the simply fabric bowls. I have some great fabrics in my stash and I think these bowls would make some quick presents for family, friends, and myself!

    • Donna F
      May 16, 2013 at 11:24 am (2 years ago)

      I hate when I read one of my posts and see spelling errors in it, especially in the first sentence! I in fact did love checking out their website.

  20. Candace Dubrof
    May 16, 2013 at 11:25 am (2 years ago)

    I love the sign danglers! I’ve just made the Uncle Sam, Hair Dresser Dangler and Drop Your Drawers/Knickers. They make great gifts. They are easy to make and require minimal assembly. Thanks SEWAZ!

  21. Nancy Owens
    May 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm (2 years ago)

    I love the idea of making quilt blocks on the hoop. I also really need to make the luggage tags. I love Designs in Machine Embroidery and everything I have learned from Eileen!

  22. Anne Marie Reilly
    May 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm (2 years ago)

    My favorites are the keepsake books.

  23. Colleen Bell
    May 16, 2013 at 6:20 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh, I am absolutely amazed with those tote and play sets. I can’t imagine the time it took to design them. They are all so wonderful. I plan on purchasing many as with nine children, I hope to have lots of grandchildren. My first purchase would be the McDonald’s Farm, but Noah’s Ark and the Church, sure come in close.

    Eileen, I love this idea!! You are wonderful and are so creative. I’m personally glad you prefer machine embroidery as it pushes you on. Thank you so much.

  24. Bonnie Gray
    May 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm (2 years ago)

    I love the nursery rhymes books and the tote & play sets. What a great gift those will make!

  25. Vicky Isliefson
    May 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm (2 years ago)

    My favorite ITH project would have to be the luggage tag set, especially the “Not your Face” ones! I am planning a trip and could definately use these.

  26. Cheryl Lindemann
    May 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm (2 years ago)

    What a fun website! They have such wonderful designs. My favorite INH Project was “Bella Me Village Store.” I will be shopping there in the future. Thanks!!

  27. gayle
    May 16, 2013 at 11:05 pm (2 years ago)

    I love making in the hoop projects especially things for my grands kids.

  28. Lorel Maple
    May 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm (2 years ago)

    Those 3 pocket zipper purses are just what the doctor ordered for a great gift. Easily personalized and room to tuck something else that is embroidered inside! Merry Christmas to all my girlfriends!

  29. Brenda Howard
    May 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm (2 years ago)

    I am a snowman freak and I love the ITH Dangler #707 The Snowflakes Dangler. I live in Houston, TX area so I never get snow so I live through my snowmen.

  30. Denice
    May 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm (2 years ago)

    I especially enjoyed all off SewAZ’s 3 dimentional designs for children. They offer lots of creative play away from TV and other electronic gagets. To narrow it down to one I would have to say Old McDonalds Farm simply because it works for boys and girls. Close runner up is the Gingerbread house, which could easily become a fun family tradition of setting up each year.

  31. Jody Penrod
    May 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm (2 years ago)

    I love the steampunk designs, especially the owl. I am putting him on a t shirt-now that I know how from your craftsy class!

  32. K Howard
    June 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm (2 years ago)

    My favorite is the Tote and Play Sets. There are a variety sets for girls and boys. My goal is to have all the sets. Thanks for the creativity and to make children happy.

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2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Machine Embroidered Buttonholes

  1. […] If you have an embroidery machine, Eileen’s Machine Embroidery suggests using it to make buttonholes on your garment.  She cites the better control over length and placement as the number one reason to do this.  There’s also the fact that each buttonhole will be the exact same size.  She includes a link to download an embroidery file for a standard buttonhole in 2 sizes (1″ and 2″) and 2 shapes (square and round).  You can resize the length to get the exact size you need.  Go to Eileen’s Machine Embroidery blog for the tutorial and the free buttonhole file. […]

  2. […] If you have an embroidery machine, Eileen’s Machine Embroidery suggests using it to make buttonholes on your garment.  She cites the better control over length and placement as the number one reason to do this.  There’s also the fact that each buttonhole will be the exact same size.  She includes a link to download an embroidery file for a standard buttonhole in 2 sizes (1″ and 2″) and 2 shapes (square and round).  You can resize the length to get the exact size you need.  Go to Eileen’s Machine Embroidery blog for the tutorial and the free buttonhole file. […]

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