Buttonhole Foot is my favorite of all Sewing Machine Feet. Both novice and experienced sewers will be terrified by the Buttonhole Foot, a sewing machine foot.

There is nothing to be afraid of, I’m here to tell it. The buttonhole foot works on most machines and is fairly easy to use. The secret to great buttonholes lies not in the buttonhole foot. It’s how you prepare your fabric that’s the real key.

My history of buttonholes

I have used many different buttonhole attachments in my sewing career. I used to sew on a Kenmore machine for years. It had an antiquated buttonhole system with a plastic cog, gear and a few cams. This attachment has made over 200 buttonholes, according to me. I was making school uniforms and dresses for my daughters. The majority of the dresses were buttoned at either the shoulder or the back. Although some of the attachment teeth are a bit worn, I still had great buttonholes the last time I used them.

This type of buttonhole attachment was then used by the Babylock Ellure. This was a huge leap in buttonhole-making. I could have stopped there and made a happy buttonhole maker. Although I haven’t done any scientific counting, I believe this buttonhole attachment is the most popular. It is included in nearly all new machines.

It’s much easier than you might think!

Attach the foot to the machine by simply inserting the button into the slot in the foot. The stop-bar drops down so that the machine can stop sewing the buttonhole. Some machines can even remember the size of your buttonholes, so that you can make all your buttonholes exactly the same.

Older machines may have something that is only called a contraption and will need some kind of manual to operate. After much searching, I finally gave up trying to find a photograph to show you. You probably have some memories of this device if you learned to sew from your grandmother. They were inconsistent and likely to be the reason for most cases of buttonhole-phobia.

This foot is used by both my Berninas. My machine asks me what size buttonhole I would like it to make (17.5 mm, 15 mm, etc.). The machine then programs the right size buttonhole and stores it in a memory chip. It will continue to make the same buttonhole size until it is reprogrammed.

The foot’s core still contains a cog, teeth, and gears to move the buttonhole foot, while also making a buttonhole. This feature is found on most buttonhole feet, even antique and scary contraptions.

How to make perfect buttonholes

You don’t need the most advanced technology or fancy equipment to make a buttonhole great. These tools are helpful in making a buttonhole, but the real secret to success with a buttonhole is how you prepare your fabric.

You don’t even need fancy-schmancy equipment to make beautiful buttonholes. Make sure to properly prepare your fabric before you make a buttonhole.

To show you the process in action, I made a quick video. (Sorry for my hand blocking part of the view.

Below are written instructions and photos for those who prefer them.

Step 1: Interface Fabric

Before making a buttonhole, interface your fabric. For knits, you can use a woven interfacing or a stretchy tricotinterfacing. Here is a woven.

Step #2: Mark Buttonhole(s)

Use a marker that is removable to mark the location of the buttonhole(s) at the top, middle, and bottom.

Step 3: Install a machine for buttonholes

Attach the buttonhole foot to your buttonhole and adjust the size.

My machine has an electronic setting. I tell it the right size, and it sets it. You can find the correct size for your machine if it doesn’t have this option by measuring the button, and following the guidelines on the foot.

Step 4: Stabilize the Fabric

Tear Away Stabilizer (affiliate), should be cut large enough to cover the buttonhole and placed on the back of your fabric.

Place a piece Wash Away Stabilizer (affiliate), on top of the fabric.

Step #5: Make the buttonhole

Follow the instructions and set the buttonhole setting on the sewing machine. Always test the buttonhole by using a scrap piece of fabric. The markings on your fabric should be aligned with the guideline markings at the buttonhole foot.

Make the buttonhole. Start by making a zigzag along the buttonhole’s left side. It will stop, straighten the buttonhole to the top, make a bar tack and then zigzag back down the right side. The buttonhole is closed with a bar-tack.

Step #6: Complete the Buttonhole

You can remove the Tear Away stabilizer from the back by ripping it off. You can also remove the Wash-Away stabilizer from the front. Any markings that are visible should be removed. Any stabilizer residue that remains will be washed away in the first wash.

Step 7: Open the Buttonhole

This was a difficult step that I learned the hard way. Slide a pin through both the top and bottom of the buttonholes to avoid cutting through them. When opening the buttonhole, you don’t want to cut through the bar tack.

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