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color of buttonhole thread

Jonagold | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am just completing a red wool jacket.  I have vintage black buttons (and a lovely black/rhinestone brooch) that I plan to use/wear.  The red thread that I have been using matches perfectly.  I did not do bound buttonholes and it is too late to do that. 

I am wondering if I should use black thread for the buttonholes or the red thread.   I have done a sample of each and may prefer the black but certainly it isn’t a case of “that is the better choice.”  Are there any general rules for this decision?  I’m somewhat leaning toward the red because I know the buttonholes would have to be perfect if I used black…at least one end… and there are five!  I don’t have black accent in any other form on the jacket.

I think I will really enjoy wearing this jacket and I don’t want to reget the final step.

Thanks so much!



  1. starzoe | | #1

    Go for the red. Someday you may wish to change the buttons and you would be stuck with the black. I always try to make the buttonholes unobtrusive, attempt to match the fabric as close as possible.

  2. LindaG | | #2

    Hi there, Jonagold,My buttonholes are sort of a gamble every time. I don't seem to get them perfectly lined up or finished. I suppose if I had a computerized machine that this would not be a problem - but I don't. So I try for unobtrusive just in case I run into trouble.Linda

    1. Palady | | #4

      >> ... get them perfectly lined up or finished. I suppose if I had a computerized machine that this would not be a problem ... <<

      If I may add a thought on your thinking - a computerized machine is just that - a machine.  Markings and eye balling are as necessary with one of these as it is with a "ordinary" straight/zigzag machine.  Please understand my next is other than a aspersion.  Your buttonhole results might be human error. 

      To reduce your gamble, there are some things to consider - 

      baste small end lines as to where the buttonhole will start & end, or use the temporary marking pens now on the market  (testing these to be sure they'll be suitable) 

      check to be sure the lines, or marks, are in line with the one above & below.

      When you place the fabric under the presser foot to make the buttonhole is where the eyeballing comes in. MO if course.

      Try to locate some identifying spots on your machine bed which will help you be certain the fabric is appropriately aligned.    Depending on the weight of the fabric, it is easy for it to be askew.  Even a smidge will make a difference in the end result.  

      If the buttonhole is going to be made near a neckline with a collar, the doing takes on other cautions because of the collar fold and the thickness at this part.  Mo, it just takes practice to work with this technique.

      Maybe because I learned to do buttonholes using a seperate specific attachment, I became more aware of the aligning.  Though some thought these to be cumbersome, they had lines on the outside frame to help with this doing.  So, when I began using machines where buttonholes were done by settings on the machine, the need for aligning was ingrained.  

      Lastly making your sample with the same composition as that of the completed fashion is paramount. 

      Perhaps other members will offer you their experiences with accomplishing this phase of sewing.  It should be as pleasing as is the whole of the effort. 



      1. LindaG | | #5

        Palady,Thank you so much for all the advice. And yes indeed human error is definitely a factor here. You've hit on just about all the mistakes I've made. Any thoughts about how to keep the two sides of the buttonhole from overlapping?Thanks,

        1. Palady | | #7

          >> ... how to keep the two sides of the buttonhole from overlapping? <<

          Are you meaning the two "sides" of the buttonhole that are the longer?  This is indeed an issue because you must have a heck of a time cutting the button hole open.

          Off the top of my head, since I'm unable to see the process, I'd think your material is shifting somehow as the bar tack of the buttonhole is sewn.  My suggestion would be to be mindful of how the stitching proceeds after the bottom bartack is made. 

          How does your machine make a buttonhole?  

          With the New Home I have, it's a 3 step dial process.  It was bought mid 1990.  I a dial to start a bit below the upper mark on the long right side.  Stop at my bottom mark.  Set the dial to make the bar tack.  Making certain the needle is in the correct position and is up as I end.  Set again to work the opposite side to my mark.  Ascertaining the needle again.  Set the dial to make the top bar tack.  Another needle check.  Set the dial to complete a second go around accordingly.

          This sounds like a bother-of-dial-settings.  For me, the all allows me to be certain the buttonhole is proceeding as I planned.

          If the fabric I'm using has more layers, or is heavier such as a jacket, my machine has an optional foot that snaps on.  It's rectangular and has markings on it.  I find it reminiscent of the attachment I used way back when. 

          Having read there being newer machines offering automatic buttonholes as a desireable feature. I'm at a loss to offer you anything because of being unfamiliar with how this sort of machine works.  My guess is there's a setting to eliminate the changing-of-the-dial. 


  3. Josefly | | #3

    My thought is that your vintage buttons will show off better without the additional design element of contrasting (black) buttonholes. When you did your samples, did you actually cut the buttonhole, and set the button on top, and get away from it to see what most people will see? You can pin your sample onto your jacket, with the button pinned on too, stand back, and see what it looks like. Think, too, about what the black buttonholes will look like if you wear the jacket unbuttoned, fully or partially. If you like the black, and it enhances your buttons, go for it.

  4. sewelegant | | #6

    I would make the buttonholes red.  In my mind when you look at the jacket from a distance and the buttonholes were black it would change the look of the buttons from what you see in the button alone.  If that is the look you like, then that is another story altogether.  Another thing... later on if you decide to change the buttons for a new look there would be no color interference if you go with the jacket color.

  5. Teaf5 | | #8

    I agree--go with the red! 

    On coats and special pieces, I usually make machine buttonholes, use a chisel to open them, and then do a buttonhole stitch by hand over the machine stitching. (If white interfacing shows through at this point, I color it with a permanent marker to blend in with the fabric color.

    The machine stitching provides stability and a defined line, and the hand stitching gives an extra layer of elegance, especially if I use a silky embroidery thread in the exact same color.  The buttonhole hand stitch is easy and quick, especially because I don't have to worry about complete coverage with the machine stitching beneath it.

    1. Jonagold | | #9

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful answers.  I shall go with the red and practice the hand buttonhole stitch.  I'm excited to get it finished and hope to wear it on Sunday...for certain on Valentine's Day.

  6. User avater
    paddyscar | | #10

    >> ... how to keep the two sides of the buttonhole from overlapping? <<Like Palady, I learned to make button holes with a separate attachment, so all the lining up is a previously developed skill.I often use masking tape on the bed of my machine to help out with placements for individual projects such as buttonholes or hems.Using the step buttonholes - bottom bartack, side, top bartack, side - you can avoid going too close to the first long side by placing a piece of tape with a very small over-hang along the inside edge of the first long side. It will serve as a guideline for your eye to keep your second side from drifting over too close to the first side.You could also do the bottom tack and first side, stop the machine and use a temporary sewing marker to mark the width of the buttonhole and thereby keep your second side straight, by sewing along the edge of the marking.

    1. LindaG | | #11

      Thank you! I will try these tips out on the jacket hanging neglected due to buttonhole procrastination.

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