"Don't wish me happiness I don't expect to be happy all the time....It's gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Sewing buttonholes by hand

I decided to make a Christmas bag this year and every year until I have enough to stop using wrapping paper. I am sewing them from my daughter's outgrown christmas dress's. I wanted to use a drawstring closure and I needed a buttonhole for the drawstring opening so I did it by hand. Here are some tips I found useful. 1. I used a tapestry needle and embroidery floss that I ran across a beeswax candle. The wax helped to hold and tighten each stitch. I experimented to find out the suitable needle size and number of strands needed. A small buttonhole on lighter fabric worked well with a 14 count needle and two strands of floss. 2. I used a embroidery hoop and ironed on interfacing on the back side of the fabric. A 1" by 1" piece of interfacing worked wonders at stopping the fabric from fraying and giving the needle a bit more tooth to stitch into. 3. I cut a slit in my fabric a little larger than my cord. I used buttonhole stitch with each stitch placed 1/16" apart. (This is the only stitch I used. ) 4. I stitched practice buttonholes first on the fabric I intended to use. Some fabrics are easier than other's. A tight weave fabric worked well but when I tried it on an open weave fabric this method did not work. I put the unfinished bag aside and several weeks later I talked to an lady in her eighties with a life long history in textiles. She told me in great detail how she was taught to sew buttonholes by hand from her mother. She sewed many buttonholes for years before she got a machine with a buttonhole attachment. Virtually every step she told me is the same with the exception that sewing thread was used instead of floss. Number ten which is equivalent to quilters thread was used for heavy fabrics and number thirty-six was used for light weight or regular fabrics. When I asked her if there is a difference between buttonhole and blanket stitch she told me the stitch is the same except buttonhole is placed very tightly together. If you google this you will find a wide range of opinions with some being very adamant that it is a completely different stitch. She also told me she did not use an embroidery hoop (she did not use one for her embroidery either) as she knew how to hold the fabric tautly with her hands. At the present time she has been busy sewing lounge pants for Christmas presents and a new skirt for herself. I took the unfinished bag out and used a thread colour that was similar to the background fabric and the buttonhole turned out nicely. Sent from my iPhone


  1. Wow! That is a great thing to learn, how to sew your own buttonholes! Making bags from old clothing is a wonderful idea too! You are such an industrious lady! :)

  2. Hello sweet Ronda. I've been away from blogging for six months and out of touch with many of my blog friends. I'm back and catching up with everyone. I'm happy to see you're still blogging and sharing with others how you live your quiet, gentle life with your precious daughter. Your bag is lovely. Merry Christmas! ~ Nancy