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cycler1729 | Posted in General Discussion on

I’ve got 2 different buttonhole attachments and I’m still unable to get a decent looking buttonhole!

I did a practice on a scrap of the same fabric but one thickness and it came out ok but on the fabric and facing it only sewed one side before not moving and it isn’t really thick fabric.

Many years ago I had an attachment that was very big – it attached to the foot and extended out the back but I don’t remember what it was or if it will work on this machine (Brother).   Does anyone know what that was called or if there is anything else that will work?  (Not hand sewn!)

It is so tempting to buy a computerized machine just for the buttonholes!


My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library. —Peter Golkin


  1. User avater
    Sewista | | #1

    Don't do that! Computerized machines are notorious for less than desirable buttonholes. I choose to use my mechanical any day for BHs. On a computerized machine the minute the foot hits some unevenness, it will stop and cut short the BH on one side. I have been able to compensate for this somewhat by placeing a folded piece of post it notes under one side of my presser foot to keep it even. It works pretty good but not always.

    My personal suggestion would be to find an old heavy mechanical machine at a yard sale, cheap, and see if it does great BHs. They often do.

  2. sewchris703 | | #2

    Is this what you are looking for? http://sewing-machine-parts-store.com/list.asp?subcat=Buttonhole+Attachments+-Household

    I use my Featherweight buttonholer on my short shank Kenmore sewing machine.


    1. cycler1729 | | #4

      YES!  Thank you!  Now I just need to see which one of those will fit my machine!  (And a savings of about $200.00!)


      1. sewchris703 | | #10

        You're welcome. Make sure that your machine will drop the feed dogs or the buttonholer won't work properly. The main reason I bought my newest Kenmore is because it worked with the buttonholer. I hate bar tack buttonholes. My Kenmore also has a buttonhole attachment (I bought it separately; didn't come with the machine) that makes round end buttonholes. But it requires a lot more set up than just taking off the pressure foot and attaching the buttonholer.Chris

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #18

          I'm going to have to play.  A friend's MIL just gave me everything (except her machine) that was in her sewing room...she moved from a large home to a small apt., and can't sew anymore. In that mess, is a buttonhole attachment with lots of 'parts.'  Everything is there, and it is supposed to make keyhole buttons. I also got a box of attachments (everything from a ruffler to hem stitching feet...and they fit my old '75 Kenmore. My machine has been horrible for buttonholes.

          For the last 2 yrs. I've been so terribly jealous of everyone who has talking about their newer computerized machines.  Then I realized....I've been sewing with this same machine for 34 yrs.; it hasn't given me much trouble (knock on wood); and I've made everything from baby clothes, to patching DH's jeans, to wedding gowns on it.  Its a good enough machine. Even if I could get the machine of my dreams...a Janome...like my SIL has...I'd keep this one...and probably use it more....I know how to get it to do what I want it to.  With all the new 'toys' I've gotten for it, it will do just about everything except embroidery....it just takes a little longer...why should I be jealous!  I'm thankful for the one I've got!


          1. sewchris703 | | #19

            I love the old machines. Last night, I pulled out my 1951 Featherweight to hem a chiffon prom gown. it's narrow hemmer foot does a better job than my "new" Kenmore (6 years old). The Featherweight is my preferred machine for all things bridal and special occasion. In addition to the buttonhole attachment, I also have the ruffler, the blind hem attachment, and the zigzag attachment with several cams.Chris

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #20

            Oh Boy! A new box of toys to play with!"I know how to get it to do what I want it to. With all the new 'toys' I've gotten for it, it will do just about everything except embroidery....it just takes a little longer.."I am in the same boat as you are with an oldie but goodie who works just fine and has lots of different attachments, collected as needed. I have a couple of older machines, that I pull out for specific jobs that each machine has the knack of doing just a little bit better than another. That is just me being UBER PICKY. I have never minded much how the buttonholes looked when I made them. My machine made an acceptable one, and if I didn't like it, I just handsewed over it. UBER PICKY again. I figured a really good button hid the worst of it any how. I have a really good basic machine. It was the best in it's day, and has stood the test of time. Compared to the troubles that I keep hearing about with some of the computerized models.....as much as I would love to play with some of the newer features...I really cannot justify the cost of a new machine!I am starting to think that for what I do, an embroidery only model will be the next thing to add to the stable. I cannot justify another sewing machine, when I have several already, that work just fine. I cannot sew and embroider at the same time, so a dual purpose machine is probably more bells and whistles than I need, and would have to buy even more accessories for. Like you, I think I will be happy to work with what I have for now. I am doing just fine, thank you. :) Cathy

          3. Sancin | | #21

            If you have a 35 yr old Kenmore from Sears, it is probably made by Elna, a wonderful machine at that time. Now Kenmores seem to be made by Janome. While I love my 5 yr old computerized Janome, I would still be sewing on my 40 yr old Elna had a repair man not ruined in while in for a tension checkup. I did not like the mechanical Janome that I bought immediately after in a hurry to repair some clothes. I also love my 1941 Singer Featherweight that I purchased for an arm and a leg several years ago. I had traded my original inherited Featherweight to buy my first Elna just so I could get a zig zag stitch! When purchasing a new machine or parts there are many things to consider, one of them one's age and the another is time - to learn how to use all that new stuff!!

            Edited 5/1/2009 4:44 pm ET by Sancin

  3. Crazy K | | #3

    I had one of those clunky things, too!  I think it was a Grietz or something like that.  It did work fine but that was back in the day..........  I now have TOL machines that do great buttonholes.  Janomes have a small attachment that you insert the button and it will make the right size........every time.  I loved that until I got my Designer SE.... 

    Maybe someone will jump in here with the correct name of the buttonhole gizmo.


    1. sewslow67 | | #5

      Hey Kay; what is a TOL machine?  Like you, I have two computerized machines (and have had computerized machines for years) and mine have always made perfect button holes, over and over ...all matching is size and perfection.  One is a Pfaff and the other is a Janome, and I love them both.  If I didn't have them, I would buy a new one just for the button holes.

      I know a number of people who have the Designer SE and just love it to bits.  The story is that one of these gals takes her to bed with her.  ;-)

      1. Crazy K | | #6

        TOL stands for Top of the Line..........but I guess now my lowly SE doesn't qualify since the Diamond came out.  The Diamond is a beautiful machine but large, expensive and only does a little more than my SE...........I couldn't justify the cost.  I had several Janomes.........Mastercraft 3500, 4000 and 9000.........all great machines but the service/classes just weren't there.........the Husq./Viking dealer is 2 miles away and offered classes for the machine AND the embroidery and software.  Made all the difference in the world.  I still have the 4000 (or maybe it's the 4300) and the 9000..........along with two Designer SEs..........yes, DH spoiled me!  I just can't seem to part with my Janomes tho'......the 9000 especially has some feet that I don't have for the Viking and the 4000 is going to DD someday when she has room.......she loves to sew but business and space hamper all of that right now.

        My one SE just came back from the 'spa'........now I love it more than ever.......I think it's even better than when it first came out of the box!  Maybe I'm dreamin'!! ha ha


        1. Tatsy | | #7

          I'm with you. I've got a Designer I and love it, but just can't bring myself to spring for the Diamond. My old Elna lasted 20 years before it needed to be replaced, but with the computerized equipment things change so fast that I can see myself replacing the machine every three years--at higher and higher costs. That was okay while I was working and needed something to spend money on to keep me going back to what had become a miserable job. Now I'm retired and can't see spending almost the cost of a car for a sewing machine. My sister did, but she had her own home dec business and needed the long arm for motel commissions. I'm just sewing for me, the grandkids. and some other family members.

          By the way, the Designer I does a great job on buttonholes unless the black wheel on back of the automatic foot kicks up. I too learned how to fiddle with that and have no complaints with the buttonholes it makes.

          One more thing, that old buttonhole attachment was called The Buttonhole Attachment. My old Kenmore had eight or so cams that made perfect buttonholes.

          1. Crazy K | | #8

            I started with the Designer I and loved that too but when the SE came out it was love at first sight!  Now that the economy has tanked, I'm glad I have my machines.  We're retired too and spending that kind of money just doesn't appeal to me unless mine dies.........or they come out with something not even thought of at this point!  The SE is the D1 with a little more power, a better screen and landing strip lights!  It has more capabilities to customize on the screen, etc.  When the Diamond came out I went down the list of the 101 new things.......well, I already had most of them and couldn't ever see the need for the others........more stitches, etc.  I have more stitches now than I will ever use in my lifetime!

            Yes, I can make buttonholes that are just fine.  I don't do custom sewing........only family and friends and mine are 10 times better than many of the rtw garments!


  4. sewelegant | | #9

    "If your fabric doesn't feed evenly through the machine, try using a piece of nonwoven stabilizer or tissue paper underneath. If your fabric is very sheer or very fragile, try putting the tissue paper underneath and on top. It's easy to tear it away once the buttonholes are completed."

    This is a tip I keep in my files.  If all else fails can you revert back to making the machine buttonhole like we used to do without an attachment or built in?  I came across those direction just the other day, but I can't for the life of me find them now.  They must be under something other than buttonholes!

    It's quite easy:  draw a line as long as you want your buttonhole.  Start with a wide zig zag, preferably with the feed dogs down, but if you do not have that function, just move the stitch length to zero so you will be sewing in place.  Do about 3 or 4 stitches then lengthen the stitch back to a very short, narrow zig zag, re-engage the feed dogs and sew down one side of the line to the opposite end, stopping with the needle in the middle position.  Change the settings to make another wide tack at this end;  change back to the short narrow zig zag and sew down the other side of the marked line.  I'm sure you have done this yourself, but I am older than you and remember how exciting it was to acquire a zig zag sewing machine!

    In the meantime, I hope you find the buttonhole attachment you are looking for.

    1. cycler1729 | | #11

      Probably not that much older - I remember my first zig zag machine as well (a long time ago)!

      Somehow despite all of the years of sewing I never mastered the buttonhole using just the machine but that clunky thing worked well.

      But now I'm not sure that I am able to drop the feed dogs on this machine - I never noticed that option in my manual.


      1. cafms | | #14

        Mother had an attachment like that and it made such nice buttonholes.  Her machine wouldn't drop the feed dogs either and had a cover to screw on over them.  I think it came with the attachment - anyway it was kept in the box.  Maybe you could find one also or it might come with the attachment.

        1. sewchris703 | | #15

          I have the feed dog cover to the buttonholer but it only fits on my Featherweight. The covers are machine specific. They aren't interchangeable between machine companies or even between models.Chris

        2. cycler1729 | | #16

          had a cover to screw on over them

          So that's what that thing is!  LOL!  I never knew what it was used for!

          And those buttonholers are available for really low prices on Ebay - I'd just need to guess at the condition.

        3. sewingkmulkey | | #17

          Yes, mine also has a metal plate cover for the feed dogs.

  5. sewslow67 | | #12

    I have two computerized machines (one that was pricey and the other "regular") and both make absolutely perfect button holes every time.  Both can be easily programmed to make the same one over and over again ...and yes ...perfect.  Thus, I would say "go for it" and buy a new machine - even just for the professional looking button holes.

    My main machine is the Pfaff 2170 (which was TOL when I got it) and the other one, which I got last year for traveling, is a Janome Platinum 760.  And frankly, if something happened to the Pfaff, I would be more than happy with the Janome;  and the ticket price was $800 and if you shop around, you can get it for half that (which I did).

    BTW, I used one of those old button hole attachments over 50-years ago and I remember them well.  And I prefer the ones made on my machines today for several reasons.  For one, they can be "tweaked" to be very refined for delicate fabrics whereas those old attachments frequently wrecked fine silks by rubbing the fabric back and forth, causing nasty snags.  There are many other reasons but the list is too long to elaborate.  Just a thought.

  6. sewingkmulkey | | #13

    I have a big clunky buttonhole attachment for my Singer Touch 'n Sew from the early 60's.  I rarely use the sewing machine (it's my backup) but I make buttonholes on it regularly as they are so perfect and uniform.


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