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How to sew Bound Buttonholes

WHAT IS IT?

Bound buttonholes are buttonholes made with fabric strips. Instead of thread stitched around the opening, the opening is bound with fabric strips. These strips form the opening for buttons to pass through. They’re durable, strong and give your sewing projects a professional look.

Garment with bound buttonholes (Simplicity 5928)

Garment with bound buttonholes (Simplicity 5928)

Bound buttonhole detail

Bound buttonhole detail

WHEN DO YOU USE IT?

Bound buttonholes work well for coats and outerwear and add an extra couture touch to blouses and dresses. I love how professional they look. You rarely see bound buttonholes on ready-to-wear clothing, unless it’s a heavy coat. I also like that bound buttonholes are made at the beginning of a project, so you have a chance to get them right midproject instead of when it’s all finished. (If the first attempt is not so great, you have an opportunity to recut the piece and start again!) Bound buttonholes are time-consuming but add a professional touch to your projects and have a great chance of success.

Regular buttonholes are done after the garment is complete, often the very last thing you do. Bound buttonholes are done before sewing the garment, as one of the first sewing steps.

Tips + Notes

  • Bound buttonholes work best when the back side is covered by a facing or another layer of fabric.
    Use contrast fabric for the buttonholes, or cut the strips on the bias for striped or plaid fabrics to create a diagonal effect.
  • When making several bound buttonholes, sew the first step on all of the buttonholes, then proceed to the second step. It’s more accurate and faster if you do it this way.

HOW TO SEW BOUND BUTTONHOLES

This is my favorite method of making bound buttonholes. I’ve sewn bound buttonholes a few different ways, and this way always turns out the flattest and the most even.

How to sew bound buttonholes (1)

Before you begin, reinforce the buttonhole area with fusible interfacing (page link), for strength, and so the cut edges don’t fray as you sew. Pink around the edges of the interfacing before applying, so the edges don’t show through to the right side. If your fabric is tightly woven, or if you have already fused interfacing to the entire piece, this may not be necessary.

How to sew bound buttonholes (2)

Make sure the buttonhole placement is marked on the right side of your fabric piece. Draw a line down the middle of the buttonhole, and mark the ends. Measure the length of your buttonhole. You’ll need to know how long the finished buttonhole should be so you can cut your bound buttonhole strips. In this example, the buttonhole length is 1¼” (3.2cm).

How to sew bound buttonholes (3)

On a piece of your buttonhole fabric, draw a straight line. This line should be either parallel to your selvages or at a right angle. If you have a striped fabric, choose whether you want the stripes going across the buttonhole or along the length of the strip.
Cut one strip for each half of the buttonhole, two strips per buttonhole. Here’s how to calculate the size of each strip :

  • For the length : Add 1″ (2.5cm) to the buttonhole length. If your finished buttonhole should be 1¼” (3.2cm), cut each strip 2¼” (5.7 cm) long.
  • For the width : Decide how wide you want the buttonhole welts to be when they’re finished. Take that measurement and multiply it by 4. If you want your welts to be ¼” (6mm), then cut the strips 1″ (2.5cm) wide.

How to sew bound buttonholes (4)

Take each strip and press it in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. If your fabric is resistant to pressing, baste along the raw edges to keep them folded.

How to sew bound buttonholes (5)

Line up the strip, centering it along the buttonhole placement line, raw edges in, and fold out. (This is very important! If you do it the other way around, you’ll have some unpicking to do.)

How to sew bound buttonholes (6)

Take the other strip and line it up along the buttonhole placement marking the same way, with raw edges inward. The raw edges should meet along the buttonhole marking line.

How to sew bound buttonholes (7)

Pin both fabric strips in place. Stitch right down the middle of each little strip. If it helps, mark the stitching line. Mark the starting and ending points as well. (Once you get it under your machine, it’s a lot harder to see what’s going on!)

Stitch from starting point to ending point, which is the length of your buttonhole as determined in step 2. There will be ½” (1.2cm) on either side of the stitching. Use a small stitch size for better accuracy. Basically you want to stop at the exact same spot on each side. Backstitch at both ends if you can do it without going farther than your start point. If you’re worried you will backstitch too far, stitch in place for a few stitches instead to secure the ends

How to sew bound buttonholes (8)

Here’s what it looks like on the opposite side. Check to see that both lines are the same length. If yours are a little off, go back in and make an extra stitch at the short end, so they match up.

How to sew bound buttonholes (9)

This shows what’s going to happen when you finish off this buttonhole. The welts that were facing outward are going to turn inward and fill in the hole. They’ll meet in the middle because you sewed each strip exactly in half.

How to sew bound buttonholes (10)

To turn the strips right side out, you’ll need to cut the marked buttonhole. If you have a buttonhole knife and mini cutting mat, that’s the best! Or you can fold the buttonhole in half and make a small snip, then use small scissors to cut the rest. I use the buttonhole slicer only to start the cutting, and I cut the rest with scissors.

How to sew bound buttonholes (11)

Cut a Y shape into the corners between the two stitched lines. Use small scissors if you have them. Be careful not to cut the welts on the opposite side. You just want to cut through the bottom layer.

How to sew bound buttonholes (12)

Turn the buttonhole welts to the inside. One at a time, turn each side of the buttonhole through the hole.

How to sew bound buttonholes (13)

On the inside, arrange the buttonhole welts so they’re flat and the little triangle from the Y cut is turned to line up with the buttonhole welts.

Before continuing, double-check that :

  • The buttonhole welts are lined up with each other, and don’t cross over each other.
  • They meet in the middle of the opening.
  • The triangle is turned to the inside.
  • The triangle is centered over the place where the welts meet.
  • The triangle is turned as far as it can go, so that the buttonhole forms a nice, clean rectangle.

How to sew bound buttonholes (14)

Stitch down the triangles to form the shape of the buttonhole. Sewing these little triangles is the most important step in the bound buttonhole. It makes all the difference, so take your time! Stitch it down once, without backstitching. Be careful not to catch any of the garment fabric, just the triangle and the welt ends.

How to sew bound buttonholes (15)

Check your work. Flip over your garment and check the right side of the buttonhole. Check to be sure it looks even, the corners are square to the edges of the buttonhole and there are no puckers at the corners.

If you’re pleased with the appearance, run it under the machine back and forth about five times. That triangle’s never coming undone. Repeat with the other side of the buttonhole, stitching down the triangle once, checking its position and stitching it securely.

How to sew bound buttonholes (16)

Voila! A pretty little bound buttonhole. Repeat with the rest of your buttonholes.

CHECKLIST FOR BOUND BUTTONHOLES

Keep this list in mind as you sew your bound buttonholes, and check the list again when your buttonholes are complete.

  • Buttonholes are straight, either parallel or at perfect right angles to nearby garment edges.
  • Buttonhole welts are equal thickness on both sides.
  • The buttonhole mouth stays closed and doesn’t gape open.
  • There are no puckers at the corners.

HOW TO FINISH THE FACING SIDE OF A BOUND BUTTONHOLE

For the facing, you’ll create little windows that will go around your bound buttonholes. This will cover the back of your buttonholes neatly and create an opening for the button to pass through.

You’ll need fusible interfacing and the facing piece, interfaced and cut. Cut a square from the interfacing on the straight grain, approximately 1″ (2.5cm) larger than the length of your buttonhole. In this example, the facing will be 2¼” (5.7cm) square. You can also use a piece of lining fabric, cut on the bias, in place of fusible interfacing.

How to finish the facing side of A bound buttonhole (1)

To mark the facing placement, line up the buttonhole with the facing and poke pins through the four corners of the buttonhole on the right side of the garment. Draw a rectangle on the facing connecting these four points.

How to finish the facing side of A bound buttonhole (2)

Place the fusible interfacing over the markings, sticky side up, and sew around the rectangle.

How to finish the facing side of A bound buttonhole (3)

Cut in the middle of the rectangle, and cut outward in a Y shape toward the corners like you did with the bound buttonhole opening.

How to finish the facing side of A bound buttonhole (4)

Turn the interfacing to the inside. Press to secure interfacing to the wrong side of the facing and the window is formed.
When the garment is nearly finished, slipstitch (page link) around each facing window to secure the facing to the garment.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine