How to make a perfect {Hand sewn buttonhole}

Simple way to sew buttonholes by hand

hand made buttonhole

A true couturier will vouch for the beauty of hand stitched buttonholes. True that it is convenient to pop the cloth onto the machine and  get those nicely done buttonholes out. But the buttonhole will always look assembly made. The perfection of a handworked buttonhole is something else.

Buttonhole stitches are basically blanket stitches which are worked really close together. (Checkout the tutorial to know about 11 variations of Blanket stitches with which you can decorate your clothes). Your patience is going to be overworked when making those neat buttonhole stitches. The first time I made a hand stiched buttonhole I think I cursed the whole hand sewing thing and almost threw the towel in – But I didn’t . And believe me it gets better with practice. Let us see how to get it done the right way. You need the listed things to start with. 

  • Sharp scissors
  • Two pins
  • Chalk or pencil
  • Thin and small hand sewing needle 
  • Buttonhole thread or pearl cotton thread
  • Your garment ofcourse
  • A thick thread if you are sewing for  jacket 

Step 1
Keep the button in place and mark its length by placing two pins on top and bottom . Remove the button.

hand sewn buttonhole

Draw a line connecting the two pins.sewing buttonholes by hand

Step 2
Make two parallel stitching lines with your sewing machine or simple running stitches with your needle and thread on the left and right of the line you have drawn. Make sure that two stitching lines are very close to the marked line. You donot want those lines to be visible later. 


Step 3
Thread the needle with a thick thread suitable for sewing the buttonhole, about 25″ in length. The buttonhole thread you get will be slightly thicker than the normal sewing thread.I use pearl cotton thread. 


Step 4

Start sewing by Bringing up the needle from the back of the cloth near the right edge. Make some back stitches to anchor the thread. The buttonhole stitch used here is worked usually from right to left.

hand stitched buttonhole stitching buttonhole by hand

The width of the buttonhole stitches will depend on the fabric you are sewing it on. If you have an easily fraying cloth you should be making wider stitches otherwise the fabric will wear out near the middle cut. But at the same time not too wide that the stitches will look very thinned out.

Continue making close buttonhole stitches till you reach the pin on one end. Remove the pin.

If you are making  a tailored garment or you wish the button hole to be a design feature, you would want the buttonhole to hold its shape at all times. This is possible by using a firm thread underneath the buttonhole stitches . This thread is placed along the hole and as you work the buttonhole stitches this thread is enclosed inside giving your buttonhole a nice structure. Checkout this tutorial for more details.

Step 4
When you reach the left corner you can either make a fan shaped stitch or a bar tack stitch . In the bar stitch 2-3 stitches are made one on top of the other, ensuring that the width is equal to or smaller than the buttonhole.

Step 5
Continue with the buttonhole stitch to the other end. Here also you have a choice of making a keyhole shape ( Fan shape) or a straight bar.Another option is to just fan out the stitches.

When you have finished, bring the needle to the back and weave the needle through the stitches on the back to anchor the thread. 

hand sewn buttonhole