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How to Sew a Medieval Buttonhole Tutorial Full Guide of 2023

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tutorialshow to sew a buttonholeYou’re going to learn how to sew an authentic medieval buttonhole by hand – it’s easier than you think! We’ll walk through everything you need to make neat, durable buttonholes for your costume or reproduction garment.

The focus will be on determining the perfect size for your unique buttons, marking and cutting the slit, and stitching techniques to finish those buttonholes smoothly. I’ll share tips to get evenly spaced, professional looking results every time. With a little practice, you’ll be sewing buttonholes in just a few minutes each.

This practical skill allows you to contribute to your local historical reenactment group and serves your desire for belonging. Follow along to gain a deeper understanding of historical sewing methods that have stood the test of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Mark the buttonhole length and width precisely before sewing. Be sure to measure the actual button you’ll be using.
  • Use a sharp needle and sturdy thread for strength. Opt for thicker threads like topstitching thread.
  • Sew tightly spaced, even stitches in a spiral shape to form the buttonhole. Work from the inside out, around the marked lines.
  • Test the buttonhole size with the actual button for proper fit. The button should slide through smoothly without forcing or extra room.

Materials and Tools for Buttonholes

Materials and Tools for Buttonholes
You’ll need sturdy fabric like silk or linen, snips, an embroidery needle, and floss to start practicing hand-sewing buttonholes. Choose a fabric with some structure that won’t distort under the tension of stitching.

Prepare your tools by wiping any oil from your snips and unwinding your floss to prevent tangling.

Select an embroidery needle with a sharp point to pierce the fabric cleanly. Make sure you have enough floss to complete your buttonhole without running out mid-stitch.

When placing your buttonhole on the project, align it to the final button position for proper closure.

With quality materials ready, you’re set to begin mastering this useful stitching technique.

How to Determine Buttonhole Size

How to Determine Buttonhole Size
When sizing a buttonhole, measure the button’s diameter and add a bit of ease for smooth fastening. For a tailored jacket, add 1/8 inch beyond the button’s width. For a coat, allow 1/4 inch of ease. The extra room lets the button slip through the opening without binding or resistance.

Crafting buttonholes slightly larger than the button prevents catching or struggling to fasten the garment. Following this simple formula results in properly sized buttonholes for effortless fastening.

Tips and Tricks for Sizing

When determining buttonhole size, carefully measure the button’s diameter and add 1/8 inch ease for a tailored fit.

  1. Measure diameter across center of button, not the edge.
  2. Add 1/16 inch ease for thick fabrics like coat wool.
  3. Allow extra length for thick layered fabrics.
  4. Test buttonhole on scrap same fabric first.

Custom sizing your buttonholes shows care and creates a personal touch. Regional style variations or changing fashions over time influence size. Yet certain standards persist for smooth function. Essentially, the goal remains a slim edge without strain on button or hole.

With practice, you’ll develop a feel for sizes that serve both style and purpose.

Simple Vertical Buttonhole

With bated breath, cut through the sturdy fabric like a hot knife through butter to form the slit that’ll become your simple vertical medieval buttonhole. Make sure to evenly space the buttons by first marking where each’ll fall. Practice consistent stitch length and quick knots.

With dedicated practice, you’ll swiftly complete rows of tidy buttonholes, ready to serve others through your craft. Patiently align each cast-on at the precise spacing that complements the garment and flatters the wearer.

Handle the yarn gently, allowing it to guide you. In time, your hands will move as effortlessly as flowing water, sewing buttonholes with an intuitive rhythm.

Mark and Cut the Buttonhole Slit

Mark and Cut the Buttonhole Slit
Heart pounding, mark the buttonhole slit with care, for a single snip too deep ruins the garment.

  1. Measure button diameter with tape.
  2. Mark horizontal line on fabric this length.
  3. Mark vertical lines at each end, same distance apart as button thickness.

With bated breath, cut the horizontal slit using sharp snips. Check alignment of vertical lines. Adjust if needed. Test with button insertion through slit. Too tight? Re-cut slightly longer.

The buttonhole slit preparation sets the stage for later stitches. Precise initial marking prevents disasters – gaping buttonholes from too-long slits or stuck buttons in overly tight ones.

Stitch the Buttonhole

Stitch the Buttonhole
Slide the needle through the fabric, spiraling upwards to form the buttonhole.

  • Keep your stitches tight and even, no more than 1/16th of an inch apart.
  • Knot the thread on the back periodically to secure your work.
  • Double your thread and wax it for strength and ease of movement.
  • Compare the lengths of your stitches and re-sew any spirals that look irregular.

    With practice, you’ll be sewing perfect buttonholes that complement your handiwork and stand up to years of wear. This tutorial shows that with time and care, traditional skills create beautiful and functional pieces.

Finishing Touches for a Durable Buttonhole

Finishing Touches for a Durable Buttonhole
You’ve finished stitching the buttonhole slit using a consistent stitch length and neat knots.

Match button size to buttonhole. Flat buttons are easier to sew through. Thicker buttons need more tension.

Choose a needle sharp enough to pierce your selected fabric. Test button tension by slipping the button through the slit.

Embroidery floss comes in endless colors. Coordinate with your fabric or go bold. With practice, you’ll be sewing buttonholes confidently. Your handmade garments will last longer thanks to securely sewn closures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

Dear friend, embroider with care using sturdy pearl cotton thread. Its brilliance glistens like dewdrops, fortifying the fabric with strength. Stitch swiftly as cascading water, weaving whimsy with each pass. Soon, your buttonholes will bloom like flowers.

This everlasting thread nurtures creations meant to be cherished for generations.

How can I reinforce the buttonholes to prevent tearing?

To reinforce buttonholes and prevent tearing, anchor the thread well at both ends. Buttonhole stitch around a strand of doubled thread for strength. Blanket stitch along the edges with sturdy embroidery floss, pulling threads taut as you work.

What is the easiest way to mark the buttonhole placement?

Carefully measure and mark buttonhole placement with a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk. Avoid guessing. Precision placement ensures proper alignment and function. Test on a scrap first.

How many stitches per inch should I aim for?

Aim for 8-10 small, even stitches per inch. Keeping them tiny and uniform makes a neat, professional-looking buttonhole that holds up over time.

What tricks can help me sew straight, evenly spaced buttonhole stitches?

Use a hoop or stabilizer to keep the fabric taut. Mark the stitch spacing with a fabric marker. Take your time; don’t rush. Practice on scrap material first. Check the spacing frequently as you sew. Use bright thread to see the stitches clearly. Relax your grip and let the needle do the work.

Breathe steadily to stay focused and calm. Sew slowly; speed will come with experience.


Packing is the essence of sewing. You’ve sewn your way to durable, beautiful buttonholes by following careful measurements, tidy stitches, and practicing often. Your garment’s historical style now boasts hand-sewn buttonholes, extending the life and showcasing your dedication.

Review the tutorial as needed when sewing the perfect buttonhole adorning your next project.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

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.