I was thinking about calling this tutorial “bound buttonholes in just 20 easy steps,” but I thought that sounded a bit snarky.
Yep, there’s no getting around it, bound buttonholes are involved. They are just one of those things that always take a bit longer than you imagined going into it.
But for all the many steps in the process, they remain irresistible. They give any garment that extra tailored, polished look.
I’m going to show you how to create them, including a simple technique for finishing the inside (the facing). I’ll be showing the process on the Anise jacket, and the step by step is from The Anise Companion. But you can use these same steps on any other garment.
Remember, you almost always want to create your bound buttonholes before you stitch your garment together.
Now, there are several different ways to make bound buttonholes. I’ve chosen this one because I think it’s easy to understand and pretty straightforward. Since bound buttonholes can get a bit fiddly, straightforward is a good thing!
I’ll have you create some templates to make measuring and marking a bit more clear. You can certainly go without them if you prefer, but I find they actually speed things up.
Mark the buttonholes
First, we’ll create two templates. You can cut these from paper, but card stock or another sturdy paper is best. You can even use manila envelopes or old cereal boxes.
Both templates should be 1/4″ high.
Make the first template 3/8″ longer than your button and label this template 1.
Make the second template 1/4″ longer than your button and label this template 2.
For the jacket here, I’m using 1″ buttons. So for my example, template 1 is 1 3/8″ by 1/4″. Template 2 is 1 1/4″ by 1/4″.
Using template 1, mark the buttonholes carefully on the right side of your jacket. Draw a line down the center of each buttonhole lengthwise.
While you’re at it, draw the same boxes in exactly the same locations on the right side of the front facing piece that goes with this side of your jacket. We’ll get to the facing later, but it’s easiest to mark the buttonholes all at once.
Put aside the facing for now. We’ll come back to it later.
Create the buttonholes
Cut a rectangle of interfacing and apply it to the wrong side of your buttonhole on your front piece in order to reinforce the area.
Cut a rectangle of fabric on the bias for each buttonhole, about 2 ½” by 3”.
Press each rectangle, pulling it as you press to remove all stretch. Cutting these on the bias and then pressing to remove the stretch helps bulky fabrics to lay better.
Again using template 1, draw a buttonhole on the wrong side of each rectangle. Draw a line down the center of each.
With right sides together, pin the rectangle to the right side of your fabric, aligning the line with the buttonhole marking.
Stitch on top of the drawn rectangle. Start in the top center and stitch around the box, pivoting at the corners. When you get back to the top center, stitch directly over the first few stitches.
Slash the buttonhole through both layers, stopping 1/8” from each end. Clip diagonally toward each corner, taking care not to cut through the stitching.
Turn the rectangle through the slash to the wrong side and press.
To form the top lip, first fold the top down.
Then fold the lip back up so that half of the opening is covered.
Do the same for the bottom lip and press.
Fold the fabric back at one side, revealing the small triangle. Using a zipper foot, stitch the triangle to the buttonhole lips fabric, backstitching a few times to secure. Do this on each side.
With the zipper foot, stitch the seam allowance of the top lip to the seam allowance of the slashed opening, stitching directly over the first line of stitching. Do the same on the bottom lip.
Trim any excess fabric and press. Baste the lips closed with silk thread. Leave the silk basting in place to keep the lips closed while you sew the rest of the jacket.
Now, once the garment is completed, the wrong side of the buttonholes will be covered by the facing on the inside of the garment. So we need to create windows in the facing for the buttons to go through.
Cut a rectangle of fusible interfacing to cover each buttonhole, allowing at least an extra inch on each side. Be sure to choose an interfacing that won’t ravel or tear easily. Using template 2, draw a buttonhole on each piece of interfacing, on the adhesive side. Draw a line down the center of each buttonhole.
Pin to the right side of the facing, with the buttonholes aligned. The adhesive side of the interfacing should be facing up, toward you. The non-adhesive side should face the jacket. Because template 2 is slightly smaller than template 1, the buttonhole drawn on the interfacing should sit just inside the one drawn on the facing.
Starting at the center top of the buttonhole square, stitch around the box with a short stitch length (1.2 to 1.5), pivoting at each corner. When you reach the beginning, continue stitching over the first few stitches for about 1/4 inch.
Cut through the facing the same way you did when creating the buttonholes, slashing along the center and then diagonally toward each corner.
Turn the interfacing through the slash to the wrong side. Press to adhere the interfacing in place and finish the window.
Your buttonholes are now complete, and your facing has little windows to match up with them!
Once you’ve put your garment together and the facing is sewn in place, hand stitch the facing windows to each buttonhole so that your buttons will be able to slide through easily.