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Teach Yourself to Sew

Unconventional Buttonholes

Dec 22, 2010
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In a past, I showed you how to make Anne Kendall’s classic bound buttonhole. In the photo above there are five bound buttonhole versions that would jazz up any garment. The two on the right were designed by Lois Ericson, who is a beloved teacher and has been inspiring sewers for decades. Review Anne’s methods to get back into bound buttonhole mode and then try Lois’s unconventional versions. You can learn how to make both of her buttonholes right here. In the second from the right she sews one long bound buttonhole and uses it for multiple buttons. On the far right she makes whimsical, faced-shape buttonholes. These are a perfect frame for unusually shaped buttons.

Easy route to multiple buttonholes
This method doesn’t require a basted ladder and makes one long slit buttonhole, whose facing becomes the lips, and which is then divided into multiple buttonholes with bar tacks or another means.

1. Prepare lip fabric: Cut a rectangle of fabric for the button lips that’s the length of the button series plus 2 in., and twice desired width of the window plus 2 in.

2. Interface WS of garment where the window will be. Mark the window on WS of lip fabric, and position the lip fabric and garment RSs together.

3. Make lips: Stitch window; clip as shown; turn to WS, folding triangles away from the window but leaving the long seam allowances inside the window as filler and guide to form the lips; and press in place.

4. Anchor lips:
Fold back garment and stitch through interfaced triangles. With garment RS up, fold back to reveal tiny, the triangular seam allowances from making the window. Machine-stitch through the triangles, organza, and lips on all four sides.

5. Establish individual buttonholes: Bar-tack, topstitch, or otherwise divide lips on RS (and surrounding area if desired, as shown in photo of these buttonholes at top of page).

Faced shapes as buttonholes
This method gives new dimension and shape to bound buttonholes.

1. Create faced opening: Cut a generous facing piece for each buttonhole. Pin the facing to the garment, RSs together, and stitch the desired window shape (you can use almost any uncomplicated shape). Trim away the shape’s interior, leaving a slight seam allowance. clip any curved edges; turn facing to WS of garment; and press.

2. Make lips: Cut two rectangles of straight (or bias) fabric for each buttonhole 2 in. wide by the length needed to fill the window size.

3. Attach the lips: Place the lip fabrics face to face, and machine-baste through the center, then press open on the stitching. Place lips behind the faced window. Topstitch, or lift the garment and stitch the lips to the facing. Remove basting.

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  1. rosb December 30th

    Wow Such inspiration for my the garments I make in 2011, Thank you

  2. User avater clothingeng December 31st

    I love interesting buttonholes...I'll be trying some new shapes!

  3. Moonbeams December 31st

    I've been sewing for more than 50 years. Don't ask why, but buttonholes have always been a major dread. I usually make my own -- usually by hand. I will be trying these. It's something I can do even on my doll clothes.


  4. User avater triangles December 31st

    Creative and inspiring for 2011! Thanks for continuing to provide garment making ideas!

  5. MzSweetpea December 31st

    WOW!...Thanks for this little tutorial....I think I'd like to incorporate some of these buttonhole ideas on custom handbags that I make.....Don't ya just love to sew!
    Thank you!

  6. User avater Jetmuis January 1st

    wooow this is a great idea, really awesome and great tute too.
    well done, love it !!! happy new year;-D
    and thank you very much for the sharing as well;-D

  7. cathycreations May 31st

    I too have major anxiety attacks if I need to do button holes. I can do them know....Thanx for another alternative. I just designed a great vest and I wasn't sure how I was going to close it.
    NOW I KNOW!!! thank you thank you thank you

  8. User avater juanbell March 27th

    Very creative work.. Really good

  9. User avater earlcollins March 31st

    Thumbs up for the work

  10. User avater Buffet_Catering January 7th

    Wow, that looks pretty.... I love Lois Ericson designs not least because of the fact he's been around the block for decades but also inspired many as a beloved teacher..

  11. keithlopez5 January 14th

    I appreciate your work

  12. Carldiaz5 January 23rd

    Gud job buddy

  13. User avater howardcharl2 February 12th

    This is great one!!

  14. mandieanaya56 September 24th

    I appreciate to work

  15. User avater Jami Watson August 29th

    One of the best

  16. Ellis Kari September 12th

    amazing work mate

  17. Jarod Foley September 25th

    I really love it

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