Monday, December 21, 2009

Bound Buttonhole Tutorial

Because I love tutorials.  Because Martha, my machine can only sew straight and forward.  Because multiple steps make me want to puke...  I bring you

The Bound Buttonhole Tutorial Spectacular!!!!

OK, so maybe I am overstating just a tad, but when I found this tutorial it made bound buttonholes so easy and fast that I simply must share.  Of course, I cannot find the original website to source.

And believe me, I have tried (Oh how I've tried!) to find it again with no luck. 

So, without further ado, here is the tute as I remember it, and have quite possibly tweaked to fit around my brain.

The garment I am using for this tutorial is my daughter's Christmas coat.  She's 6, so I only needed to use three buttons.  They are 7/8" wide.

First, you want to mark your fabric like so:

Using your button guide from your pattern, mark the center line making sure it's a little wider than the button.  For example, I made my center line 1" wide for these buttons.  Then you will make your top and bottom lines anywhere from 3/16" to 1/4" away from the center line.  I prefer a smaller bound buttonhole, so my top and bottom lines are only 3/16" making a finished bound buttonhole that is 1" wide by 3/8" high.

Next, stitch around the outside lines

Then you need to cut the center.  I start by piercing my fabric with a seam ripper...
then making my cuts with small embroidery scissors.  You want to start cutting to the corners about 1/4" from the sides 

Do this on both sides. 

You then will iron the four sides down against the wrong side of the fabric

The front looks like this

If your jacket has lining (and I sincerely hope it does, otherwise your bound buttonholes will be a gaping mess on the inside of your jacket), prepare it in the same way and stop here.

You will then need to prepare the lips of the bound buttonhole.  I'm sure they're not technically called lips, but they look like lips to me so that's all I can think to call them. 

To prepare the lips, cut fabric that's 3" long and at least 1/2" wider than your buttonhole.  In my case, that made my pieces 3"x1 1/2".  Cut two per buttonhole and mark the center of each with a line.

and stitch all of your lips together

Now, fold along the seam and press

The final part is stitching the lips to the ironed front of the jacket and slip stitching the lining.  Sew around all four ironed edges, making sure to keep the jacket free, and also make sure the seam of the lips is straight across the opening of the front of the bound buttonhole.  The picture on the left shows me sewing the first part of the lip down.  You do this in four separate steps, one for each side, and not one step around all sides.  This helps keep the lips lined up with the opening.  Unfortunately I didn't have any other usable shots but this one, so hopefully the photo on the right will shed more light on what I mean (click to enlarge). 

You see how each stitching line crosses over the other? Well, it's because I would stitch from one end of the lip to the other instead of just stitching around the ironed down pieces on the front of the jacket. Please let me know if I've confused you!! Repeat this step for all buttonholes and then trim the lips down.

Your bound buttonholes are almost done, and should look something like this

 All that's left is stitching the lining to the jacket, slip-stitching the other bound buttonhole openings to the back of the buttonhole, and removing the thread from the lips so your opening will actually allow a button to get through!
Bound buttonhole back with the lining slip-stitched down

PHEW!!  So, now that that's all said & done what do you think? I honestly think bound buttonholes are super easy, though they do take waaaaay longer to complete than regular buttonholes.  Still, the time is worth it when it comes to finishing off a jacket.  I figure if I'm going to take the time to make a lined coat, I just have to add some details.

Please let me know if I lost you anywhere along the way!


  1. Thanks! Now, I understand bound buttonholes - before I couldn't figure out the procedure spatially!!

  2. This is wonderful. You just saved my sanity. thank you

  3. Thank you for this tutorial! Super clear and it makes sense!

  4. My grandma showed me this exact method, but I couldn't remember how she did it, and now thanks to you I don't have to ask her to show me a second time! Thanks!!!!

  5. Thanks for this tutorial. I'm using it on a jacket.

  6. thank you so much. you helped me and my sister:)

  7. Neat!! Well illustrated..great camera...Made this project understandable...

  8. Thank you. My late mother use to make buttonholes like this and I remember her showing me when I was a teenager. I needed to do some revision now that I have taken up sewing again in my retirement.

  9. Great Tutorial. Looking forward to making beautiful buttonholes.


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