Buttonholes without a buttonhole foot?

Last week we talked about buttonholes and knit and hopefully made them less scary. But maybe you don't have a buttonhole option on your machine.  Does that mean you can't make buttonholes?  Absolutely not!  You are fully capable of making buttonholes on a sewing machine that doesn't have that option.  So First things first, what are we going to need?

  • ruler
  • button
  • some sort of writing instrument
  • scissors
  • fabric to practice on (yes, you will want to practice this first)
  • interfacing  

The first thing you are going to want to do is measure your button.  This will tell you how big your button hole will be.  My button for demonstration is .75 inches.  After you have ironed on your interfacing, you will draw a line for your buttonhole (and as a guide), you will want to add just the slightest bit of more length to your line so that the button hole can easily slip around your button, but not too much so the button falls out of it.  I am using a pen on mine so it's easier to see, but you'll want to use something like chalk or a pencil so it is less noticeable.

Now draw two lines perpendicular to the line you just made, creating an uppercase I.  This will help you when sewing your buttonhole.  This will be your starting and stopping point.

Starting on one of the short ends, you will want to place your line in the center of your presser foot.  You will change your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch and are going to fiddle around with the settings.  I sent my length to zero but then put my width on the widest option (7).  Stitch.

Now going up the sides of your button foot, you will want a very narrow zig zag.  I set my machine to a length of .3 and a width of 2.  You will want to play around and find what is best for you.  You will sew up the side of the mark you made, but not on the mark itself.  (eventually we will be cutting the mark you made). 

Once you've figured out what settings work best for you, you will sew down that first side stopping at the other short end.  With your needle still down, pick your presser foot up and turn your fabric so you will be sewing down the opposite way.  You then will repeat the first steps on the other two sides.

After that it's time to stand back and admire the work you just did!  You can see how I played with stitch lengths on either side of my buttonhole. 

Take your scissors and cut along your line (making sure to not cut any stitches you just created).  And now you have a buttonhole without using a buttonhole foot or stitch!



1 comment



Consider stitching your zigzag in reverse. Most of the computer machines I have used make a more reliable, denser line in reverse and are less likely to skip. Also consider lowering your thread tension by two (so if it is normally set at 5, lower it to 3). This keeps the bobbin thread on the bottom.

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