Technique: Creating a Buttonhole Using a Sewing Machine

Worn Wear

Worn Wear

Patagonia and iFixit are celebrating the stories we wear by collaborating to provide guides for Patagonia's most popular apparel repairs.

Follow these steps to create a buttonhole using a sewing machine.

Use this guide to create a buttonhole with your sewing machine. We’re using a Bernina 830, but the process should be similar for all sewing machines with a mechanical buttonhole dial. Since every sewing machine is different, refer to your sewing machine’s owner’s manual for specific information. In this guide we’re using contrasting thread for visibility. When it comes time for your actual project, you’ll want to use thread that matches the color of your fabric.

Edit Step 1 Creating a Buttonhole Using a Sewing Machine  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Thread the buttonhole foot by sliding the thread through the diagonal slit into the center hole.

Edit Step 1 Creating a Buttonhole Using a Sewing Machine  ¶ 

  • Select your buttonhole foot. Buttonhole feet can vary in appearance, so check you manual.

  • Thread the buttonhole foot by sliding the thread through the diagonal slit into the center hole.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

Image 1/2: You can measure your button if you aren't sure.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Mark where you would like the top and bottom of the buttonhole to be with tailor's chalk.

  • You can measure your button if you aren't sure.

  • Align the sewing machine at the upper left corner of the buttonhole.

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

Image 1/2:

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

Image 1/2:

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Set your stitch length dial to nearly zero, this will create a satin stitch. The usual stitch length is around the 2.5.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

Image 1/3: Every time you adjust this dial, your needle will move. That's okay; it's supposed to do that.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Set your button hole dial to one. If you have an electronic sewing machine, refer to your manual.

    • Every time you adjust this dial, your needle will move. That's okay; it's supposed to do that.

  • Start sewing. Sew to your second line.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Sew the [[Sewing Glossary#Section_Bar_Tack|bar tack]] at the bottom of the buttonhole.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Set your button hole dial to two.

  • Sew the bar tack at the bottom of the buttonhole.

    • Setting the button hole dial to two tells your sewing machine what to do, all you need to do is sew a few stitches to create the bar tack.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Sew up the second side of your buttonhole, stopping at your top mark.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Set your buttonhole dial to three.

  • Sew up the second side of your buttonhole, stopping at your top mark.

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Sew the top bar tack at the top of the buttonhole.

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Set your buttonhole dial to four.

  • Sew the top bar tack at the top of the buttonhole.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

Image 1/2: This setting [[Sewing Glossary#Section_Backstitch|backstitches]] to hold the thread in place. Sew a few more stitches, which will finish the buttonhole.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Set your buttonhole dial to five.

  • This setting backstitches to hold the thread in place. Sew a few more stitches, which will finish the buttonhole.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Clip any extra loose threads.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Clip the threads, freeing the fabric from the machine.

  • Clip any extra loose threads.

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

Image 1/2: Be careful not to cut through the stitching, you only want to cut the fabric between the rows of stitching.

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Use a hobby knife to cut open the buttonhole.

  • Be careful not to cut through the stitching, you only want to cut the fabric between the rows of stitching.

You're Done!

Now that you've finished, share your repair story with others.

Write a story

1 Comment

Add a comment

I got up to position (!) 2 ok, then when I tried to go back up on position 3 it didn't work and just chewed up my fabric. Is it supposed to go backwards, or are you supposed to turn the fabric around? Did I do something wrong?

Holly - Reply