To kick off Sew Skillfully, I decided to learn how to sew bound buttonholes. Exciting!! : ) The book I’m using (Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing) details several methods for making the buttonhole and finishing the facing on the inside of the garment. For my first attempt, I chose the following:
- Buttonhole: Two-piece piped method
- Facing: Windowpane method
To be honest, I chose these methods because they seemed to be on the intricate end of the spectrum, and I wanted to get the best finish possible. Call me a sucker for detailed procedures! I actually really enjoy sewing complicated things sometimes, and pushing myself to learn these more advanced techniques is exactly what Sew Skillfully is all about. No shortcuts, at least for now!
I made 2 buttonholes using this method. I’ll show you my second one first, because it came out better. Not surprising. 🙂 Ok, let’s dive in!
The two-piece piped method involves the following general steps:
1. Transfer the markings for your buttonhole to the wrong side of the main fabric.
2. Create a finished “windowpane” in the main fabric using one of the facing scraps.
3. Machine baste the two buttonhole lips together down the center and press open.
4. Center the windowpane opening over the lips, and sew to secure.
5. Make an identical windowpane in the facing, exactly opposite the buttonhole in the main fabric.
6. Hand sew the facing to the main fabric, finishing the buttonhole.
And voila, a bound buttonhole! That only took forever…
Things I liked about this method:
- You have a lot of control throughout the entire process. No guessing, no worrying.
- Basting the lips together before inserting them into the buttonhole guarantees they match up perfectly and don’t overlap.
- The book recommends hand basting at various steps throughout the process, which I found to be really helpful. It was nice to have the added security, and using fewer pins allows the presser foot to access everything you need to. It only takes a few minutes to hand baste, and I thought it was worth the effort.
Things I didn’t like:
- Overall, it was time-consuming. Each buttonhole took me about 2 hours from start to finish! Maybe my timing will improve with more practice?
- The finished buttonhole is pretty thick, since there are so many layers of fabric sandwiched in between. I can imagine using this method on a wool coating would produce a VERY thick buttonhole…. maybe too thick.
- You have to be really careful not to let the facings show through to the outside, especially if you’re not using your main fabric for the facings. See below for my advice on getting a good finish here.
- When sewing the little triangles of the main fabric to the buttonhole lips (Step 4), you want to sew just inside the original row of stitching (from when you created the windowpane in the main fabric). Sewing just inside the original stitching ensures that the facing fabric doesn’t show on the outside of the buttonhole.
- Use scraps of the main fabric for the facings, or a lightweight fabric that is the exact same color as the main fabric. You really don’t want the facings to be noticeable on the outside, particularly on the front!
- Since there are so many layers involved, I think this technique would work best on medium and lightweight fabrics.
Below is my first buttonhole, where I used a lighter color fabric for the facing and didn’t do a great job of fully turning it to the inside. I definitely think the second buttonhole came out better in this respect.
- Sherry at Pattern Scissors Cloth shared a wonderfully detailed tutorial (lots of pictures, but limited text) on this exact method. Check out her post for a true step-by-step approach.
- Bry at Belle Clara tried out 5 different bound buttonhole methods (this woman is my hero!) in this tutorial. Her “piped method” is the most similar to the two-piece piped method I used here, but not exactly the same. The main feature is that the two buttonhole lips are sewn to each other before being inserted into the windowpane in the main fabric.
I had so much fun sewing these buttonholes! It’s really exciting and satisfying to move out of your comfort zone and learn a new technique, even if the results aren’t quite perfect. I can feel my brain expanding. 🙂
With that said, the two-piece piped method was a little involved, and I wonder how much of a pain it would be to make several of these at once on a real garment. I’ll be curious to try out other methods and see if I can find a good balance between manageable technique and professional results.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my first Sew Skillfully post! If you have any suggestions for improvement, please don’t hesitate to chime in. Have you ever sewn a bound buttonhole using this method? What tried and true methods would you recommend?