How to sew bound buttonholes

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How to sew bound buttonholes

How to sew bound buttonholes in an easy and fail-proof way! Bound buttonholes are a gorgeous feature on any garment, but they can feel a bit intimidating to sew, especially since you have to cut through the fabric and there is no easy way to save a messed up bound buttonhole. As with a lot of sewing things it comes down to practice, plus accurate measuring and markings of course. But I would argue that some methods are more fail-proof than others, and in this tutorial, I will show you the method I think gives the most accurate results, especially if you are a beginner. Now, I’m not saying that this is the best method, but sometimes we just want to use a method that doesn’t make us feel like we are sewing klutz!

It is adapted from the now defunct German pattern magazine Neue Mode and has not seen this method in any of the sewing books that I own, hence why I wanted to share it with you. This is how I first learned to make bound buttonholes and also what I’m using for my tailored jacket.

 

How it works

This method uses narrow, folded strips instead of one single piece of fabric for the welts. The beauty of this method is that strips will make it very easy to sew and cut the buttonholes straight and even.

To sew bound buttonholes you’ll need

  • Fabric
  • Lightweight interfacing
  • A ruler
  • Marking Pen
  • Stick or basting glue (optional)

How to sew bound buttonholes

 

How to sew bound buttonholes

Cut a narrow strip for the welts. The strip should 4x time the width of the finished welt. So if each finished welt will be 5 mm (1/5 in) wide, the strip should be 2 cm (⅘ in).

 

How to sew bound buttonholes

Apply fusible interfacing. I prefer using a lightweight interfacing to make the welts less bulky. Just make sure the interfacing doesn’t stretch in the same direction as the welts, especially if you are working with fabrics that have some stretch.

Fold and press the strips. If you can’t get the folded strips to lie flat I recommend laying the folded and pressed strips underneath a wood block for a bit. You can also use stick or basting glue to keep the strips from opening up too much.

Cut the strips. Each strip should be the length of the finished buttonhole plus 2 cm (⅘ in).

Mark the opening of the garment. Make sure the line is straight and on the right side of the fabric. I think it is best to interface the garment fabric as well unless the fabric is very stable.

 

Place one welt on the fabric. The opening should be facing the line. Make sure it aligns exactly with the line and mark where the seam should begin and end, i.e. 1 cm (⅖ in) in on each side.

 

Sew the welt. Make sure you follow the markings and that you sew exactly 5 mm from the outer edge. I like to mark extra long lines on the fabric to make sure I start and stop at the exact spot. You can put needles outside the seam area to keep the welt in place.

 

Stitch the second welt on the fabric. The exact same way you did on the first. The beauty of this method is that you don’t need any additional markings since welt one will guide were welt two will be placed. Make sure the stitch is straight and on the middle of the welt.

 

Cut the opening. First, a straight line in the middle and then to the diagonal in each corner to create triangles at the ends.

 

Flip and turn the welts.

 

 

Sew over the triangles and the welts. This final step will secure the opening.

 

How the bound buttonhole should look on the inside.

 

The finished welt. Yes it involved some steps and I’m sure there are faster methods out there, but when it comes to accuracy and ease I think this is one of the best methods. But feel free to disagree, as I said at the beginning of this post, there are many methods for sewing bound buttonholes to choose from.

So what to do on the inside?

Obviously, we need to have an opening in the facing too. The most common methods when it comes to tailoring involves just cutting an opening in the facing and then fold the fabric inwards and hand-stitch it in place. Every sewing reference book I’ve seen shows instructions for different variations on this method, so I won’t try to do it here.

The inside opening: I used the simplest one of those methods, which involves just slashing a straight line and once it is hand-stitched it forms an oval. If the fabric is thin you could repeat the bound buttonhole on the facing,  I have an RTW jacket with this finish and it looks very neat.

 

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Chris Griffin
    April 4, 2018 at 2:58 am

    I love your posts like this, as I can almost hear your voice walking me through the steps. Same with your book!
    I always thought bound button holes seemed too hard, but this makes them just like mini-welts, which aren’t too bad!
    I’m glad you posted this 🙂

    • Reply
      Johanna
      April 4, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Thank you! And indeed they are just like a mini-welt pocket, but without the pocket! A lot of the methods that might seem intimidating are not that difficult once we try, which is always encouraging!

  • Reply
    Helen
    April 8, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I’ve never sewn bound buttonholes. Never sewn a coat, either – both about to change since moving to Tasmania so will definitely give this method a try. Thanks for all the really helpful photos.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      April 9, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Yöu are welcome! It really is easier than it would appear when seen finished garment so give it a shot for sure!

  • Reply
    Maggie
    April 14, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I’ve always been apprehensive about bound buttonholes -welt pockets too. But this looks really do-able. Thank you for taking the time to explain and photograph.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      April 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Yes, it is totally doable and looks impressive too, so a win-win 🙂

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