Hand-sewing Buttonholes?

I’ve never been a big fan of machine-made buttonholes, and given the time and choice, I would rather do something with a better finish, like a bound buttonhole. I’ve had a garment go bad one too many times at the buttonhole stage, and it’s not an experience I relish after putting hours into a garment. Recently, I was finishing up a final project for a patternmaking class and time didn’t allow for anything but a machine-made buttonhole..


A little hand-sewing neatened up this buttonhole.


My final project is done!

I dragged out my sewing machine manual and buttonhole foot and set out to make several test buttonholes on the fabric. When I was satisified that I could repeat a successful outcome, I carefully marked the buttonhole placement on the jacket, and set about to oh-so-carefully stitch the jacket.

I had chosen some vintage wooden buttons from my step-mother’s mom’s collection. (I am the recipient of all vintage sewing supplies in my family, but that’s another story.)

Yet again, I discovered why I don’t like machine-made buttonholes. As I carefully slipped the seam ripper in to cut the buttonhole open, I discovered that the weft of the denim was white and ready to unravel at a touch. There would have been a time when I would have thrown my hands up in despair. That was before I learned that buttonholes were hand-stitched, long before someone figured out how to make a machine make them. Hence, the buttonhole stitch.

Rather than just abandoning myself to a buttonhole with frayed white threads, I took up my needle and thread and set to patiently snipping stray threads and sewing a new buttonhole stitch around the perimeter of the buttonhole. Soon I had a neat blue buttonhole that wasn’t frayed around the edges.

This is yet another reason why I love hand-sewing. There is nothing you can do on a machine that you can’t do with a needle and thread. Granted, some things are more expedient on a machine, but with a needle and thread you have more control over the result.

For some great projects where you can try out your hand-sewing skills, check out the Craft Tree Teacher Gifts, just in time to make an end-of-the-year present for "Teach."

Do you have projects where you like to jump in with a needle and thread and do some hand-sewing? I would love to know.

Happy stitching!

 

 

 

 

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Buttonholes
Amber

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and SewDaily.com. She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and SewDaily.com. She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

8 thoughts on “Hand-sewing Buttonholes?

  1. I am not fond of sewing machine buttonholes – unless you have a professional machine, then you may achive great result. I was glad I had possibility of making buttonholes on my new sewing machine – but – I don’t like them so much.
    As I LOVE hand sewing I am hand sewing/stitching as much as possible.
    I have made hand stitched buttonholes in my French jacket.
    You may see them in my posts:
    http://wp.me/p2yS5n-1pr
    http://wp.me/p2yS5n-1m7

  2. I too learned to sew by hand many, many years ago (about six + decades ago) long before I was allowed to use the sewing machine and love the control it gives over projects. I made my husband a three piece suit while sitting in a motel room so that he could go job-hunting. It may not fit but it is still in the closet after nearly four decades.
    I sewed my mom a lovely top several years ago while travelling cross-country on the train! many miles, many hours, many many stitches.
    I am much better at machine-made buttonholes than i used to be, but still will take a turn at handsewn when I am concerned about the fabric.
    A needle and thread are a great connection to the sewers of long ago.
    Enjoy the pleasure of hand-stitched!

  3. When I hand sew button holes I use button hole twist but it’s been so long since I last did any button holes at all.

    I like to sew small patchwork projects by hand. Hand sewn patchwork potholders are a nice hostess gift when visiting some one or a hand sewn patchwork eyeglass case.

  4. When I hand sew button holes I use button hole twist but it’s been so long since I last did any button holes at all.

    I like to sew small patchwork projects by hand. Hand sewn patchwork potholders are a nice hostess gift when visiting some one or a hand sewn patchwork eyeglass case.

  5. I, too, hate machining buttonholes. My fave are still the machine buttonholes I learned to do on Mom’s (now mine) Singer featherweight. Had to attach a little gadget with cams in it. At least I knew WHERE the buttonhole would be when I started sewing! Half the battle today is getting the buttonholer on the machine foot area, then testing several times, then figuring where to place it to start it, and it invariably goes a little crooked on me. At least with the featherweight I could start/stop, sew around it twice, all under MY control.

    And, I also have to re-sew by hand to cover any loose or skipped areas. I’m thinking maybe I should make a separate placket with buttonholes-then, if I don’t like it, I don’t have to sew it on to the item I’m making.

  6. I, too, hate machining buttonholes. My fave are still the machine buttonholes I learned to do on Mom’s (now mine) Singer featherweight. Had to attach a little gadget with cams in it. At least I knew WHERE the buttonhole would be when I started sewing! Half the battle today is getting the buttonholer on the machine foot area, then testing several times, then figuring where to place it to start it, and it invariably goes a little crooked on me. At least with the featherweight I could start/stop, sew around it twice, all under MY control.

    And, I also have to re-sew by hand to cover any loose or skipped areas. I’m thinking maybe I should make a separate placket with buttonholes-then, if I don’t like it, I don’t have to sew it on to the item I’m making.

  7. My fist buttonholes were hand sewn because I couldn’t figure out how to use the buttonhole attachment on my new machine ! I have since figured it out, and I have to say, in some items I would still use the handsewn version. First of all, it’s actually faster, and using the actual “buttonhole stitch” makes a delicate and precise buttonhole. It is also much easier to pull out if you make a mistake. I tend to use the handstitch on very delicate fabrics and very heavy fabrics. It was especially useful on a flannel blouse, when I had to stitch through two layers of flannel and a layer of interfacing. I would say: keep both kinds of buttonholes in your repitoire !

  8. My fist buttonholes were hand sewn because I couldn’t figure out how to use the buttonhole attachment on my new machine ! I have since figured it out, and I have to say, in some items I would still use the handsewn version. First of all, it’s actually faster, and using the actual “buttonhole stitch” makes a delicate and precise buttonhole. It is also much easier to pull out if you make a mistake. I tend to use the handstitch on very delicate fabrics and very heavy fabrics. It was especially useful on a flannel blouse, when I had to stitch through two layers of flannel and a layer of interfacing. I would say: keep both kinds of buttonholes in your repitoire !

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