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September 2010
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Easy Buttonhole Tips

Buttonholes can be rather intimidating, but there are some things that can be done to make them a little easier to do and a lot less stressful!

** ALWAYS practice making a buttonhole or two on a piece of scrap fabric.  By doing a practice one you can see if the fabric will stretch while making the buttonholes.  If the fabric does stretch you need to know ahead of time, and not while working on the blouse or dress.

** If it appears that the fabric will stretch or the buttonhole has gotten out of shape, you can use a backing of “Stitch ‘n Tear”.  This paperlike backing  stays in place while making the buttonholes, then tears away easily after the project is finished.

** If you use some “fray check” on your buttonholes, the threads won’t ravel from use.  This will make your garments (or those of your customers) look nice longer as the  buttonhole threads won’t ravel and start coming out.

** The easiest way to mark evenly spaced buttonholes is to use an expanding gauge.  Open the gauge so that the points are the correct distance apart, then mark the positions for the buttonholes.

** Vertical buttonholes work best when sewing with knits, as they will stretch less than horizontal buttonholes.

** I’ve found that if you’re working on more than one garment at a time – if the thread colors match, make ALL the buttonholes at one time and get that part of the project out of the way.  Whew!  The rest should be easy from this point on!

Let me know if you have additional buttonhole tips — sometimes the buttonholes are the most difficult part of the project.  I’ve known seamstresses who do zippers only or pullover tops and NEVER want to tackle buttonholes.  Buttonholes aren’t really as tough as we’d like to pretend they are — it just takes a little practice to be perfect with them.  However, for those of you who just want to do zippers, we’re going to start a little series on how to make various types of zippers next week, so be sure to come back!

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author


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