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How To Make Buttonholes in 4 easy steps With The Singer Buttonholer

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Sewing buttonholes may seem like a daunting task, but with my easy-to-follow tutorial, you’ll be sewing perfect buttonholes in no time! In fact, it’s so easy peasy when you get to use a singer buttonhole foot as I did. Here’s a simple and quick tutorial on how to make buttonholes, perfect for sewers of all levels!

How To Make Buttonholes

Tutorial on how to make button holes using a singer buttonhole foot

I admit, I failed at sewing buttonholes on my sewing machine oh, so many times! To the point of eventually giving up! I honestly thought I’d never get the hang of it, to me it was pure torture just thinking about it! That is until I took the time to actually thoroughly learn how to make button holes.

It was game changing! I am now addicted to sewing buttonholes with my machine! I can’t wait for an opportunity to come so I can put my skills into action. For the moment I just practiced a lot and I’m anxious to show you how to make button holes, the super easy way, so you can fall in love with buttonholes too!

I made buttonholes by hand, may times, particularly for my mom who’s been a sewer for almost 60 years but hated making buttonholes for her hole life. In all honesty, her buttonholes looked ridiculous and ugly! But then again she never really wanted to learn how to make button holes and also she did not have what it takes! And that would be a singer buttonhole foot, my friend!

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This foot is such an amazing tool and I’m so thankful to the people at Singer’s for sending me this little gem when I purchased my sewing machine! If you don’t know how to use a buttonhole foot, don’t worry, it’s insanely easy and I’ll show you how below, with step by step photos and written details. Although it’s pretty self explanatory once you take the time to study it a little.

sewing buttonholes

That was the key to my success and the reason I was able to make this tutorial on how to make button holes. I took the foot, study it, tested its features and experimented a lot with different buttons, the stitch length and thread tension. You may notice in the step by step photos that my stitch is a bit tight and bulky but the end photo is nice and clean and looks much prettier. That’s the result of experimenting!

When I started taking photos to show you how to make button holes with your sewing machine, I was convinced I finally got it all figured out but by the time the buttonhole was done, I thought, why not change it all up a bit more. So I played with my stitch length and tension a bit more and got what I think is the perfect stitch for my buttonholes which I’ll be using for future on all my buttonholes.

So my advice is take the time to experiment on scraps of fabric until you got the perfect settings for you. You cannot afford using this technique on an already sewn project, only to find out your failed buttonhole ruined it all! There’s nothing you can do at that point so better safe than sorry. Don’t start a project before you’re completely confident you are an ace at how to make button holes!

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I used a singer buttonholer but your machine may come with a slightly different buttonhole foot. No worries, the principle is pretty similar. Just check your manual, if the foot came with your machine as mine. If you don’t have one at all and want to purchase it, here’s one like mine.

I’m also using a “non fancy” sewing machine so it needs a bit of a manual help. It has a 4 step setting on the wheel, marked in red that you have to switch while making the buttonhole, so you stop during the process unlike the fancy machines where the setting for sewing a buttonhole is computerized and it doesn’t stop until the buttonhole is done. A really minor detail I don’t see as an inconvenience. I love my little machine, it’s done such a great job for me all these years!

How to set up your sewing machine for sewing buttonholes

  • Choose the buttonhole foot that came with your machine or purchase one like mine.
  • Thread your machine, using the top thread guide and the needle you usually use for sewing. Make sure it’s a new and sharp needle.
  • Fill your bobbin with the same thread you’re using on top.
  • Attach the buttonhole foot to your machine, making sure the lever is in the up position.
  • Set your sewing machine to the buttonhole stitch setting.
  • Sew a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric to test the tension and length. You want your stitch to be nice and tight with no loops on the back so adjust accordingly.

Tips and tricks for sewing beautiful buttonholes every time

  • Use a water soluble marker to mark your buttonholes. I like this one because it washes away easily with water and doesn’t leave any residue.
  • If your fabric is fraying a lot, you can use fray check or a similar product to prevent it.
  • Use a contrasting thread color so it’s easier to see your stitches.
  • Use your seam ripper instead of scissors to cut the buttonhole.
  • For thin fabrics or stretch/knit fabrics apply interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, before sewing the buttonhole.
  • Use a sharp needle, preferably a new one to sew the buttonholes,
  • Make sure your tension is set correctly. You want your stitches to be nice and tight with no loops on the back.
  • Before applying the technique to garments, experiment on scrap pieces of fabric until you find the perfect settings for you.
  • Take your time and don’t rush it. Buttonholes are not difficult to sew but they do require some patience.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t fret! Just unpick the stitches and start over.

What is the best stitch length for sewing buttonholes?

The best stitch length for sewing buttonholes is a matter of personal preference. I like to use a shorter stitch length (around 2-2.5 mm) because it results in a neater looking buttonhole.

making buttonholes

Can you sew a stretch buttonhole?

Yes, you can sew a stretch buttonhole, but it is not recommended as they are not as strong as regular buttonholes and are more likely to tear. To sew a stretch buttonhole decrease the stitch length.

What is the best thread to use for sewing buttonholes?

The best thread to use for sewing buttonholes is a strong, contrasting thread. This will make it easier to see your stitches and prevent them from blending in with the fabric.

What is the best needle to use for sewing buttonholes?

The best needle to use for sewing buttonholes is a sharp, new needle. This will help prevent skipped stitches and ensure that your buttonhole is nice and neat.

Why use a buttonhole foot?

A buttonhole foot is a specialized foot that helps to sew perfect buttonholes every time. It is not necessary to use a buttonhole foot, but it can make the sewing process easier and produce better results.

What are the benefits of sewing buttonholes with a sewing machine?

Sewing buttonholes with a sewing machine is faster and more accurate than sewing a manual buttonhole. It also produces a neater and more professional looking finish.

Plus you don’t need to tie a knot at the beginning or the end or for the thread which can save a lot of time!

Can you sew a buttonholes through a few layers of fabric?

Yes, you can sew a buttonholes through several layers of fabric but it is not recommended as it can cause the fabric to pucker and the buttonhole to be less secure. If you need to sew a buttonhole through multiple layers of fabric, it is best to use a heavier thread and needle.

How do you make a buttonhole bigger or smaller?

To make a buttonhole bigger or smaller, you will need to adjust the settings on your sewing machine. Consult your sewing machine manual for specific instructions on how to do this. Generally, you will need to change the stitch length and width to achieve the desired results.

How to troubleshoot common buttonhole sewing problems?

  1. If your buttonhole is too small, try increasing the stitch length.
  2. If your buttonhole is too large, try decreasing the stitch length.
  3. When a buttonhole is not symmetrical, try sewing it slowly and carefully.
  4. If your buttonhole is not lying flat, try using a presser foot with a guide.
  5. If your buttonhole is puckering, try using a different needle. A sharp needle will help to prevent skipped stitches and fabric puckering.

How to customize your buttonholes for different projects?

Buttonholes can be customized to suit different projects. For example, you can sew a longer buttonhole for a coat or jacket, or a shorter buttonhole for a shirt or blouse. You can also sew different shaped buttonholes, such as oval or triangular, to add interest to your project.

What are some creative ways to use buttonholes?

Buttonholes can be used for more than just fastening buttons! They can also be used as decorative elements. Try sewing buttonholes in different shapes, sizes, and colors to add interest to your project. You can also sew them in a random pattern or use them to spell out words or phrases.

Horizontal buttonholes are also useful for projects like bags and purses where you need to thread a strap through.

Vertical buttonholes can be used for projects like curtains where you need to thread a rod through.

With a little bit of practice, you’ll be sewing perfect buttonholes in no time! Just remember to take your time, use a sharp needle, and experiment with different settings until you find what works best for you. Sewing buttonholes is a great way to add interest and detail to your projects. So have fun and get creative!


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How to sew buttonholes

how to use a buttonhole foot

Supplies needed for sewing buttonholes

How do you sew a buttonhole step by step?

Preparing for sewing the buttonhole

  • Take your button and place it where you want the buttonhole to be.
  • Place a ruler at the top and one at the bottom and mark with a dot, using your chalk pencil.

singer buttonholer

  • Add 1/8″ to the bottom dot for ease.
  • Draw a 1/8″ parallel line across the top and bottom dots.

how to make a button hole

  • Then connect the top and the bottom line with a line of chalk pencil drawn right through the center of these lines. This line will have to stay in the middle of the buttonhole, so it will be our guidance when you place the fabric under the buttonhole foot.

  • This line will have to match perfectly the tiny little dot at the front of the buttonhole foot.

  • The top and bottom lines will have to fit inside the buttonhole foot, marking the start and finish of your buttonhole.
  • Prepare the settings on your machine as desired. My perfect buttonhole was sewn with a stitch length of 0.2 and a thread tension of 0.5.
  • Attach your buttonhole foot to your machine, thread your machine and slide fabric under the foot, following the guidance I just talked about above.

Sewing the buttonhole

  • You will start sewing from the top, using the first setting marked in red, if you’re using a similar machine as mine (if not, you’ll need to check your sewing machine for instructions on how to sew buttonholes).

  • Sew down the right side of the buttonhole, which will automatically go downwards. When you reach the end, the buttonhole foot will prevent the needle from going over the mark above, it will keep sewing in the same spot so you need to sew slow and keep an eye on the needle to stop when it reaches the end of the line.
  • Switch to the second red setting which will help you sew the bottom of the buttonhole. You only need to do 3-4 stitches in this area to avoid bulkiness.

  • Move to the third red setting. This will sew the left hand side of the buttonhole, so it will automatically sew upwards. You need to keep an eye on the needle and the marking lines as the needle won’t stop at the top as it did for the bottom, so sew slow. Stop when the needle reaches the top mark.

  • Switch back to the setting number two which now will convert to number 4. Sew down the top of the buttonhole.

Finishing the buttonhole

  • Once that’s done, lift the foot, release the fabric and clip the extra threads, front and back.
  • Place a pin across the top line of stitching. This is to prevent the seam ripper to go through the stitch.

  • Looking at the middle line of the buttonhole, pierce it through the bottom with your seam ripper, then slowly rip out upwards until you reach the pin.

  • That’s pretty much it, you’ve made it! You now know how to sew buttonholes with your buttonhole foot on a sewing machine! Just remember to practice a lot before proceeding to an actual sewing project.

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How to make buttonholes with a sewing machine

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about petro


Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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  1. Do you have have printout of using a buttonhole maker as you have published here? I have an old Singer machine 301A & have an old buttonhole maker, but it doesn’t make neat holes anymore. thanks for whatever you can do/send.

    Ruth mrkcy14@yahoo.com

  2. Thank you for this. I have been intimidated about trying to sew a button hole, you make it sound straight forward. I’m going to try it later this week! Awesome!

  3. I’m thrilled to bits… thank you for that step by step guide, I was scared of doing my first ever button home today and your guide has made it simple.