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How to Sew Buttonholes by Hand Step-by-Step Full Guide of 2024

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how to sew buttonholes by handYou’ve got a garment that needs some hand-sewn buttonholes but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through this process step-by-step so you can feel confident making beautiful, sturdy buttonholes by hand.

First, we’ll go over how to properly mark and cut the buttonhole slit so it’s just the right size.

Then, we’ll demonstrate the buttonhole stitch itself and how to get those uniform, attractive edges that really make hand-sewn buttonholes stand out.

You’ll also learn little tips for reinforcing the fabric so your buttonholes last, along with how to orient them and attach the buttons for a perfect fit.

With some determination and practice, you’ll be sewing exquisite hand-worked buttonholes in no time that allow you to freely create and serve others through your sewing.

So grab those needles and let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Mark the buttonhole length precisely, adding the button thickness.
  • Anchor the thread well, keeping the stitches small and even when sewing.
  • Cut the slit cleanly along the marked line through both fabric layers.
  • Check the finished buttonholes to ensure proper garment fit before attaching buttons.

Mark the Buttonhole

Mark the Buttonhole
Before you begin sewing that buttonhole by hand, you need to properly mark the length and width. Take your time to accurately measure and draw lines for where to cut the slit and stitch around the opening.

Precision in marking will lead to a clean finish you’ll be proud to showcase on the outside of your garment.

Length and Width

After markin’ the length plus button thickness, draw a line between those marks to cut the slit for your buttonhole.

  • Use a fabric marker or chalk to precisely mark the buttonhole length.
  • Add the button thickness to the length for a perfect fit.
  • Draw a straight line connecting the two marks for a clean cut.
  • Mark light enough to remove, but dark enough to follow.

Make the width wide enough so the button slips through without resistance. Keep your lines straight and markings accurate for beautiful handwork. Take it slow and check as you go to ensure precision. With practice, you’ll have professional lookin’ buttonholes to showcase your skill.

Stitch Around Opening

Now working the runnin’ stitch around your marked opening helps define those edges and prevent frayin’ as you cut and craft this handiwork. Be sure to keep them stitches small and even, no more than 1/8 inch long. This gives a good foundation for your buttonhole and keeps everything together as you work.

Take it slow and steady, keeping tension nice and smooth. It’s a simple technique once you get the rhythm down.

With practice, you’ll have professional lookin’ buttonholes and quality handiwork to showcase your skill.

Hand Sewn Buttonhole Tips
Use single thread for even tension
Keep stitches uniform in length
Work carefully around corners

Cut the Slit

Cut the Slit
When the time comes to cut the slit, be certain your sharpest embroidery scissors are ready. Meticulously insert the tips through the cloth and snip the opening neatly, taking care not to clip any of the basting seams.

Precision with shears guarantees a tidy slit that will not fray as you work your buttonhole magic along the perimeters.

Sharp Scissors

Don’t cut those stitches! Use your sharpest embroidery scissors to carefully snip through the fabric slit you marked.

  1. Cut slowly and precisely along the marked line.
  2. Make clean cuts all the way through both fabric layers.
  3. Avoid accidentally snipping any of your basting or running stitches.

With a steady hand and your embroidery scissors, cleanly cut the buttonhole opening.

Don’t Cut Stitches

You’re threading the needle through an intricate dance as your sharp scissors hover over the fabric. With bated breath, you slide the blades along the marked line, cleanly slicing the slit for your buttonhole.

Precision guides your hands; don’t let those scissors nick your basting stitches! Smoothly cut both fabric layers, keeping fraying at bay. Take your time to avoid mistakes; this buttonhole will showcase your handiwork. Now you can stitch with care, bringing couture style to life with each pass of the needle.

Sew the Buttonhole Stitch

Sew the Buttonhole Stitch
Let’s stitch this up correctly the first time, shall we? Securely anchor your thread before bringing your needle up through the slit. Then, carefully wrap the thread around the cut edges, passing behind the needle tip on each tiny stitch.

Anchor Thread

After snipping the slit, anchor your thread from the basting seam to start buttonhole stitching.

  1. Grasp the doubled thread firmly in your fingers.
  2. Insert the needle outside the edge of the slit.
  3. Pass the tip behind the needle, pulling the thread through.

With the thread anchored, purl each stitch precisely along the cut edges. Keeping the doubled thread taut, begin hand sewing stitches outside the slit, poking the needle inside the farther end. Finesse the thread behind the needle then tug it through, looping the thread smoothly.

Work evenly around the entire opening until reaching the first stitch again. You’ll soon have exquisite handiwork to lovingly share.

Wrap Around Edges

Your heart’s devotion guides the needle to wrap around each edge. With care, purl the thread along the hollow punch of the opening. Blanket the raw edge in tidy stitches, sealing the margin from fray with finesse.

Let no stray thread escape the finespun seam as you reinforce the perimeter. Test your handiwork on scrap fabric first to perfect an impeccable finish. Finally, inspect with fray check; lovingly secure any neglected open edge. Your hand-sewn buttonhole becomes a patchwork treasure when wrapped in patient precision.

Finish Off Buttonhole

Finish Off Buttonhole
Before finishing the buttonhole, take a moment to secure those threads. On the backside, tie off your working thread in a tight knot, being sure to catch the last stitch. Then introduce new thread, locking it to the previous by overlapping a few stitches; this keeps everything neat and seamless.

Secure Threads

When finishing the buttonhole, knot your thread on the backside to lock the previous stitches before catching the final one. According to research, hand-sewn buttonholes take 10-15 minutes each. Make the final stitches secure by weaving the thread through prior loops and tying off.

Check the length equals the button’s depth and purl stitches match the button’s diameter. Smooth any fabric distortion around the professionally finished, hand-worked buttonhole.

Knot New Thread

It’s time to dig deep and summon your inner artisan. That last stitch marks a rite of passage. Now knot fresh thread through the backside loop to lock it down. Carefully catch the final purl with this anchor and pull taught.

Weave back through prior stitches in a securing crisscross. Make the knotted finish invisible inside for a clean result.

Choose Orientation

Choose Orientation
You’ll want to follow the pattern’s recommendation for horizontal or vertical buttonhole orientation.

  • For horizontal buttonholes, keep the flat or curved ends on the inside of the garment.
  • Vertical buttonholes have the flat or curved ends on both the inside and outside.
  • Mark the number of buttonhole spaces needed. Measure from the inner edge of the garment placket using a tailor’s square and chalk marks.

Horizontal versus vertical orientation impacts the aesthetics and functionality. Follow the recommended layout unless you have a creative design reason to adjust it. Properly oriented, attractive buttonholes will elevate the entire look of your finished garment.

Reinforce the Fabric

Reinforce the Fabric
You’ll want to reinforce the buttonhole area to help it hold up over time. Interface the fabric and/or use a double layer to reduce stretch and stabilize the opening. Avoid harsh abrasion in the finished garment that could fray or rip hand-sewn buttonholes.


Reinforce buttonhole areas by interfacing. Cut pattern pieces from lightweight fusible interfacing and iron them onto the wrong side of your fabric. This stabilizes the area, preventing stretching and fraying during the hand sewing process.

For thicker fabrics like wool coats, consider a double layer by also lining the piece with a smooth lining fabric. The interfacing goes next to the outer fabric. Make a test sample first to check interfacing suitability.

If unfamiliar with using interfacing, follow along with a video tutorial. Proper stabilization now makes for professional buttonholes that withstand wear over time.

Reduce Stretch

Double the fabric in buttonhole areas to reduce stretch by up to 50% for sturdier openings that maintain their shape. Fold the fabric over and stitch through both layers where the buttonholes will be. The extra layer reinforces and minimizes stretching as you work the stitches. For lightweight fabrics, consider inserting a layer of interfacing between the two fabric pieces.

Keeping the area taut leads to buttonholes with straight, clean lines in the precise length and thickness desired.

Attach the Buttons

Attach the Buttons
Before attaching your buttons, first match them to the finished buttonholes to ensure the proper size. Then check the fit of your garment by slipping the buttons through the buttonholes to make certain there is enough ease without pulling.

Now you are ready to securely fasten the buttons using thread so they don’t pop off while wearing.

Match Buttons

Pick buttons that slip easily through the finished hand-worked buttonholes without pulling or gaping. Test by slipping buttons through the completed, reinforced buttonholes before attaching them. Avoid choosing buttons that are too large or have irregular edges that may catch on the hand stitching.

For a smooth finish, select buttons sized just slightly larger than the buttonhole opening.

Check Fit

You’d be stitching yourself up for failure if you didn’t check the fit through them buttonholes before attaching the buttons. Slip the buttons through each finished buttonhole on the garment, following the markings from that there pattern.

Make sure they glide on through without tugging or gaping. Them holes and buttons is partners in thread crime, so you gotta make sure they get along, nice and friendly like. If things ain’t smooth sailing, you gotta rethink your pairing before proceeding.

Don’t let your hard handiwork go to waste on buttons what don’t do right by your steadfast stitching.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best needle to use for hand sewing buttonholes?

When hand sewing buttonholes, choose a sharp needle with a small eye. A size 8-10 betweener needle lets you precisely pierce the fabric. Use quality thread and pull each stitch snug but not too tight. Taking your time ensures smooth, even tension for professional results.

How can I determine the proper buttonhole length for my buttons?

Measure the button’s diameter plus its thickness. Mark that measurement on your fabric for the buttonhole length. You’ll need a slit long enough so the button can pass through without resistance.

What stitch should I use to anchor the threads at the start and end of the buttonhole?

Anchor the buttonhole stitches with a few securing stitches at the start and finish. Run the needle under a few threads, tie a firm knot, and clip the threads close to avoid bulk before neatly hiding ends on the wrong side.

Is there an easy way to get symmetrical, evenly spaced buttonholes?

Use a ruler and fabric marker to mark small ticks where you want each buttonhole. Space the ticks evenly apart using the ruler as a guide. These ticks will serve as guides when cutting the slits for the buttonholes.

When cutting the buttonhole slits, use the marked ticks as a guide. Cut each slit right on the tick mark.

Finally, use the ticks again as a guide when stitching the buttonholes. Line up the buttonhole stitching precisely on each tick mark.

Following these steps with the evenly spaced tick marks as guides will result in symmetrical, evenly spaced buttonholes. The ruler and fabric marker create a simple way to accurately measure and mark where each buttonhole should go.

How do I fix a buttonhole if I make a mistake or it starts to unravel?

Don’t panic if your hand-sewn buttonhole starts to unravel – just act quickly! Carefully remove errant threads and restitch any loose areas by hand with tiny, precise stitches. For truly botched buttonholes, it’s best to cut your losses; simply snip open the old one and sew an entirely new buttonhole right beside it.


With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll be hand-stitching professional-looking buttonholes in no time. Focus on making uniform, evenly tensioned stitches and work slowly to check alignment as you go.

Be sure to reinforce the fabric and use quality materials for best results. Hand-sewn buttonholes add undeniable polish and really make your garment shine.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.