Bound buttonholes are a lovely way to add a couture finish to your fashion sewing projects. They are commonly found on heavier weight items like coats and jackets but also work beautifully on light-weight garments that have either a facing or a lining. Although they can seem fiddly at first and are a little time consuming bound buttonholes are worth the effort and can really make a difference to a project.
In this tutorial I will take you step by step through the making of a bound buttonhole, if you have any questions please leave a comment below or contact me via email.
What you will need:
A hard pencil such as 2H
A patternmaster or ruler
Super sharp embroidery scissors (these need to be sharp right to the tip of the blades)
Needle and thread
A bound buttonhole is made by stitching a patch of your fabric to your garment right sides together. This patch will form the welts of your buttonhole. The patch is most commonly made from the same fabric as your garment but can be a contrast fabric if you like. It is easier to work with if you cut the patch on the bias of the fabric.
Start by creating a paper pattern of your buttonhole patch. Measure the button you are using on your project.
On your tissue paper draw a buttonhole rectangle that is the length of your button and 6 mm wide. Draw a line lengthwise through the centre of your rectangle (this will be the bound buttonhole slit).
Add a 2cm seam allowance around your buttonhole to create your patch and draw on the bias grain of 45 degrees using a set square or Patternmaster. Cut out your patch pattern.
Place your paper pattern onto the wrong side of your fabric and cut out your patch. Keeping your tissue paper and fabric patch together place them on the right side of your garment, making sure that your slit line is positioned where you want your buttonhole to be. Baste your patch to your garment through this slit line but extending the entire length of the patch.
Using a very small machine stitch of around 1.5mm, stitch around the edge of the buttonhole rectangle following the markings on the tissue paper. Start in the middle of one of the long edges, pivoting at the corners and overlapping a few stitches when you are back to the beginning.
Remove your basting stitches and cut open your bound buttonhole down the slit line ending 5mm from each end and snipping diagonally into the corners. Make sure you snip right into the corners but be careful not to snip through your stitching.
Tear away your tissue paper and push your patch through the slit to the wrong side of the garment and press open.
Press your long seam allowances in towards the hole to form your buttonhole welts. Both welts should be equal and should just meet in the centre of your buttonhole.
If your welts seem to be too big and are overlapping trim a tiny bit away from your seam allowances until they fit comfortably. Once you have them positioned correctly baste the welts together using short diagonal stitches.
Using a small machine or hand stitch secure the small triangle to the welts; repeat this process at the other end.
Round off the corners of your patch and neaten-up the raw edges.
Press gently over your buttonhole using a pressing cloth. If you are working on a heavy fabric such as a wool coating you can secure your patch to your garment on the back of your work using a hand herringbone stitch being careful that your stitches don’t show through to the right side.
Once the lining or facing of your garment is in place you will need to make an opening in it that corresponds with your buttonhole. Start by sewing basting stiches a little way from the edge of your buttonhole. Place a pin through each end of your buttonhole slit, turn your work and snip carefully between these pins.
Remove the pins and turn under the edges of the opening fell stitching the folded edges to your buttonhole welts.
Remove the basting stitches and press with a pressing cloth and there you have it a nice neat bound buttonhole
If you are keen to add other little couture touches to your sewing projects I would highly recommend Clare B. Shaeffer’s book ‘Couture sewing techniques’.