Bound Buttonhole Tutorial

August 7, 2012 · 21 comments


bound button hole

A bound button hole

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:

Tissue paper
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
Sewing machine
Garment fabric

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.

Wrong side


Right side

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.

With your project right side up fold back one end to reveal the small triangle and the ends of your welts.

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’.

Happy sewing!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Karenn December 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I am enjoying your website! Welcome to I haven’t tried this tutorial of yours but I can say that the pictures look excellent and when I’m ready to try, I’m headed back here.
Cheers, Karen


amelialowden February 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Thanks Karen! So glad you’re enjoying the blog! 😮
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Erin February 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm

What a great tutorial and such awesome photos. Totally bookmarking your site its incredible!


amelialowden February 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Aw thanks Erin! 😮
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Stacy February 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Thank you for posting this excellent tutorial! I am using it for my Sencha blouse right now and just have the facings to sew down and open up.


Ami February 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

Thanks Stacey!
Glad you are using my tutorial! How is your sencha turning out?
I love that blouse pattern!
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Shayne Jelavic February 23, 2013 at 2:36 am

This is one of the best, clearest tutes I’ve seen for bound buttonholes! Your photos are wonderful. Your blog is fabulous!


Ami February 27, 2013 at 11:53 am

Aw thanks! So glad to hear that! xx
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Gillian February 24, 2013 at 12:45 am

Great tutorial, I’m new to sewing and this made a lot of sense to me thank you.


Ami February 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

Thank you Gillian! So glad it’s helpful! xx
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Danielle April 24, 2013 at 10:14 am

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I made a complete hash of my first attempt at these and have been putting off my next project because of it. Now I’m feeling confident enough to give them another try!


Ami May 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

There is definitely an knack to them! But they are totally worth the practice time, they look so cute on garments. Hope the tutorial helps! 🙂
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Ann Sinclair May 23, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hi Ami, just using your bound buttonhole tutorial for my first attempt ever at this type of buttonhole. I have the Clare Schaeffer book but it all looked a bit scary. The tutorial is just great and I am getting along fine. Difficult choice of fabric for my first attempt – a very fine silk voile lined with habutai silk and I cut the patches on the bias which might not have been so clever, but all in all I’m happy! Will probably never machine a buttonhole again! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Ann S.


Ami May 28, 2013 at 11:12 am

Wow- that is most definitely a difficult fabric choice!! Glad you are happy with the results!
Yep once you have done bound buttonholes and hand worked buttonholes the machine ones start to become far less visually appealing!
Happy sewing Ann! 🙂
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Kristy May 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Thank you for this tutorial! You did such a great job explaining how to do each step, and I tried it out and the results are so much neater than a different way I was taught!


amelialowden June 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Ah so happy to hear that Kristy! 🙂
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Sally James November 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

Dear Ami, thank you so much for the tutorials on your website. They are very well put together and I’m spending way too much time here! I have so much to learn still about sewing and some of the tutorials here seem (seam? haha) a little daunting, but there’s a lot of fun in trying and learning 🙂


Diana Williams April 13, 2014 at 2:46 am

Really like your tutorials! Thanks for all the good detailed information and recommendations.


Alison L May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Hi Amelia
This is such a useful tutorial. I have always struggled with bound buttonholes – and since I’m a bit of a jacket addict that has always been a problem! I had never thought to cut the patch on the bias – which I suppose is pretty dim of me, but I’ll be doing it properly from now on!
Many thanks


liz T October 25, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I’ve read a few before and they seem to make the whole process very confusing. I do still have a bit of an issue to work through. I was told to look at bound buttonholes but what I actually want to do is a ‘slit/buttonhole’ in a blouse that is a wraparound. The example I was shown has a wide ‘slit’ which allows one wrap on one side to be fed through. It sounds easy to just do a half of your tutorial which is what I was starting to think I could do but having tried an example it doesn’t quite work. Do you have an answer to this problem?


Ana Rosa July 1, 2016 at 1:54 am

Este tutorial es realmente maravilloso lo intentaré a ver como me va me ayudas muchísimo abrazos y gracias desde México!


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