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How to Machine-Sew a Custom-Sized Buttonhole | Video

Skip the automatic buttonhole function and take control of your machine-stitched buttonholes.


Most modern sewing machines have an automatic buttonhole-sewing feature, which makes it easy to stitch many identical buttonholes in a row. However, sometimes you need to make a buttonhole that’s larger than what your machine can sew automatically, or you want to fine-tune the satin-stitch width for a bolder or more delicate buttonhole. In that case, try sewing a custom-sized buttonhole by manually controlling the size and placement of the machine’s zigzag stitch.

This tutorial shows you first how to mark the buttonhole. A FriXion marker is recommended.

Then find out which stitch settings to use. You will need to take into account the type of fabric you are using and your preference. These settings also will change as you sew the buttonhole, as demonstrated.

This tutorial provides recommended stitch lengths and widths for a standard buttonhole, but you may need to adjust those settings based on your project. The suggested width and lengths are as follows:

•. For the straight stitch that follows the marked buttonhole, use a small straight stitch about 1.6 mm long.

•. For the zigzag stitch used on each side of the buttonhole—which will cover the small straight stitch—set the stitch to 0.4 mm long by 2.0 mm wide.

•. For the bar tack on each end of the buttonhole, change the stitch to 0.4 mm ling by 5.0 mm wide.

Next, learn how to position the needle and presser foot. This enables the the various buttonhole components—the two sides and two bar tacks—to align perfectly for an attractive result.

This video is part of the Threads Essential Techniques series.

For Threads Insider members, watch Make a Vertical Buttonhole with Louise Cutting.

Previous: Repairs for Common Buttonhole Sewing Mistakes


  1. jansid | | #1

    What a brilliant video. Even though I have a machine with automatic buttonhole I occasionally need to do one manually and although I am quite an advanced sewer I found this video very informative. Well done Threads

  2. twinssun | | #2

    I had a larger button that my auto buttonhole foot wouldn't do. I looked thru so many videos I just about gave up until I found this one. Thank you so much for a well done, easy-to-understand tutorial!

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