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How to use the Dritz bound buttonhole tool

A while back I posted a review of this cool vintage buttonhole tool. Since the wonderful tutorial showing you how to use it seems to have disappeared, I thought I’d write a new one for you. This tool can be found in thrift stores and places like ebay. It basically acts as a nifty little jig that holds everything in place while you sew. Here’s how to use it, with lots of photos.

Gather up your tools and supplies.

You’ll need basically the same supplies as for any bound buttonhole, with a few additions. In this photo, we have fabric for the lips of the buttonhole (the patterned fabric in this photo), the Dritz buttonhole tool, a button, the garment you are putting the buttonhole in (the plain muslin in this photo), a ruler, some masking tape, a marking implement, interfacing, and scissors. You will also need an iron.

For the masking tape, I am using colored artist tape in this case, which I love because it’s easy to position and reposition.

Close up of the tool

Here’s what the tool looks like from the front and from the back. As you can see, there are two pins in back that are held in place at the bottom, sort of like a safety pin. These pins will hold your fabric taut and in place while you sew.

Measure your buttons.

Use a ruler (or gauge) to measure your button. Add about 1/8 inch to this measurement to get the size of your buttonhole. For this demonstration, I determined my buttonhole should be 1 inch.

Mark your buttonhole size on the tool.

On the front of the tool, measure from the large arrow and mark the size of your buttonhole with a couple of pieces of tape.

Mark buttonhole placement on your garment.

Now you want to mark the position of the buttonholes on your fabric with a ruler and your marking pen. Mark a straight line parallel to the edge, where you want your buttonhole to start. Mark a second line parallel to this, where you want your buttonhole to end. In other words, the two parallel lines should be spaced the width of your buttonhole, in my case 1 inch.

Now mark perpendicular lines where each buttonhole will be placed. These lines should be evenly spaced apart.

Once you’ve decided on placement, interface the wrong side of your fabric behind the buttonholes. Just cut little squares of interfacing, about 2 inches, and apply it to the back of each one.

Trace your markings with thread (optional).

If you like, you can use some thread in a contrasting color and a hand sewing needle to stitch along your marked lines with a running stitch. This is optional, but the benefit is that you can clearly see your lines on both sides of the fabric.

Cut fabric for the lips of your buttonhole.

Cut a 2.5 x 2.5 inch square for each of your buttonholes. I’m using a patterned fabric here. You can use a self fabric or a contrasting fabric.

Depending on how sturdy your fabric is, you may want to interface each square. I am using a light cotton lawn, so I applied a light fusible interfacing to each one.

Open the tool.

Now you’re going to load the fabric into the tool. First, open up the tool by unhooking the pins on the back.

Wrap the fabric.

Take your piece of fabric, and wrap it around the pins.

Close the pins.

Push the fabric through the slot in the middle, so that it sticks out the front and is even on both sides. Close the pins on the back. They’re going to want to criss-cross, so make sure they’re not tangled up.

The back of the loaded tool.

Here’s what it will look like on the back of the tool. The fabric is nice and taut.

Position the loaded tool and keep it in place with a couple more pieces of tape.

Lay the tool with the fabric on top of your first buttonhole mark. Align the large arrows on the front of the tool with the first line, and your masking tape with the second line. The perpendicular line that indicates placement should go right through the center of the tool. Notice that the tool has a point on one end? Your line should line up with the point.

Sew down the first side.

Take it over to the sewing machine, and place the whole thing right under the presser foot. Move the fabric to the left and “stitch in the ditch” on the right side. Begin at the large arrows on the tool, and end where your masking tape is. Pull the threads to the back of your piece and tie off the ends.

Sew down the second side.

Now do the left side in the same way, pushing the fabric to the right this time.

The stitching from the back.

Here’s what it will look like from the back, with the ends tied off.

Remove the tool.

On the right side of your piece, unhook the pins from the tool and remove the tool.

Slash the lips down the center.

Take your scissors and cut the square of fabric that will form your lips right down the center, from one side to the other. Do NOT cut your garment fabric yet, just that square.

Cut the buttonhole window.

Now, on the wrong side of your garment, carefully cut down the center of the buttonhole, stopping about 1/4″ from each end. Now make four diagonal cuts from the ends of this slash to the ends of the stitching. If you’ve made a bound buttonhole before, this part of the process is the same.

Push the fabric through.

On the right side, push the fabric for the lips through the window.

Press the buttonhole.

Straighten out the fabric on the wrong side, and press it into place.

Secure the sides of the buttonhole.

Now all you need to do is secure those little triangles of fabric at the sides of the buttonhole. On the wrong side, fold the lips back at the side to reveal the small triangle you created with your diagonal cuts. Stitch back and forth over this triangle several times to secure it.

Your buttonhole is done!

Your neat and tidy buttonhole is complete. Just remove the thread tracings and markings, sew on your button, and you’re good to go!

Ifyou have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them! Credit goes to the apparently no longer public mysecretpocket for showing me how to use this darn thing.

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On , Casey said: | elegantmusings.com

I’m so glad you posted this thorough tutorial! I bought one of these (finally!) a bit ago, and have been using it constantly. It’s really a miracle of a sewing tool, if you ask me. ;) Why they still don’t make them, I can’t understand!

♥ Casey
blog | elegantmusings.com

On , Clara said:

Le agradecería si me informara ¿Donde lo encontró y a que precio?

On , SA said:

Do you think you could use it for welt pockets as well?

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

Unfortunately, I don’t think the tool is big enough for pocket welts.

On , Linda said: | seamswell.blogspot.com

There is a drtiz tool (a bigger version of this) for a welt pocket. I got mine in an E-Bay buy of old notions. I haven’t used it yet, but they are out there.

On , Stella said: | pitchinwoo.com

Thanks for this posting. I inheritied one of these and really had no idea how to use it. I’ve been avoiding bound buttonholes like the plague.
Thanks again!

Stella
pitchinwoo.com

On , Rose in SV said: | needlespinsthorn.blogspot.com

Thank you for posting. I picked up one this past weekend, and I had planned on tracking down the instructions. Your tutorial saved me a step! :)

Rose in SV

On , Nancy K said: | nancyksews.blogspot.com

Thank you! I have had one for several years and haven’t made any buttonholes with it. I am planning two coats for the fall and this is going to come in handy. I remember the Secret Pocket instructions but didn’t use them or save them.

On , Seemane said: | sew-incidentally.blogspot.com

Thank you for posting this new tutorial! I’ve been desperately coveting one of these wonderful gadgets – sadly they don’t turn up in thrift stores over here :( (we call them charity-shops, or second-hand stores in the UK LOL). I shall have to keep a close-eye on eBay for one *sighs*…
Best wishes,
Seemane

On , Yellie said:

I love bound buttonholes and can’t wait to try on my next dress. Thanks for the inspiration!

On , Nicole said: | biketopus.blogspot.com

Oh yay! Thank you for posting this. I got my buttonholer in the mail a few weeks ago, and have actually been trying to figure out how to use it by looking up old patent applications. This is so much more useful!

On , Nicole said: | biketopus.blogspot.com

While I’m thinking about bound buttonholes, how do all of you lovely peeps finish the other side? Hand sew the facing around it? That’s what I’ve been doing, but it seems a little messy and takes forever, so I was wondering if there’s a better way to do it…

On , Krisna said: | patternoftheday.blogspot.com

I hope I can find one of these! I checked Ebay none listed right now. What is the best/easiest way to do a button hole in denim assuming you don’t have the right sewing machine attachments?

On , Pam said:

Hooray! You are an angel! Thank you so much for posting this! Off to practice…

On , Glenda said:

Thanks to the tutorial.

Summer Essentials Sew-Along: an update « delfinelise

[...] dress, it is already cut out, I´m just building up some courage to make bound buttonholes (without this cool tool). August 9th, 2010 | Category: Summer Essentials Sew-Along, challenge 2010, patterns, [...]

On , Jana said:

Thanks so much for the tutorial! I scored one of the larger welt pocket tools at Goodwill for 50 cents this morning, but it was missing the instructions :)

On , Cathy said:

I pulled out my tool to use this morning (I have had it for 45 years) and my instructions were missing. I haven’t used it in a while. Thank heavens your instructions were here waiting for me. Thanks!

On , Tippy said:

Saw your tutorial. Notion envy took over. Looked on ebay. No success then found one while cleaning my sewing room!?! Did the sewing fairy leave it in the night while I was dreaming of bound buttonholes? A mystery. Whatever the answer I am more then greatful for the tutorial. Thanks a million!!!

On , Diane Williams said: | http

Absolutely love the tutorial. I have never seen this tool before. I am anxious to look for one. Thanks again

On , Kathi s said:

I read that these tools are invaluable so when I found one at my favorite thrift shop, I snapped it up. This is the most complete and clear tutorial that I have encountered. Thank you!

A dress for holidays… VOGUE 5360 | Twinkle Sparkle Shine

[...] about bound buttonholes. They look so lovely that I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy a bound buttonhole maker… I wanted to try it! Anyone else out there used [...]

On , Laura said:

Hi, thanks for the tutorial. I just bought this, so I will be using it anytime soon. Can you tell me what you do to neaten the wrong side of the bound buttonhole after construction if it is without the lining?

On , Carla said:

Seems to me that you do less stitching with this little gadget?

On , miniloup said:

Bonjour, j’adore votre site même si je ne parle pas anglais, vive google, j’aimerai savoir comment s’appel cet outil, car j’aimerai en acheter un, merci d’avance

On , Lyric said: | sewandcro.com

I stumbled upon one of these ditties the other day while at a thrift sale. The instructions are included on the cardboard casing but I am sew glad I stumbled upon these instructions too. I am definitely going to have to give this a try as I think bound buttonholes are so classy.

I am working with a 1925 Sears Handcrank and/or my treadle “Dorcas” which is about a hundred years old. I am just hoping this tool may be used with one or both of them.

Cheers,

Lyric

On , Victoria said:

It looks like Dritz just reintroduced this item. It was in my local Jo-Ann’s. Now on to the tutorial!
Thanks!
Victoria

On , Kathi sorensen said:

Thanks! I found one at my favorite charity thrift shop for 50cents, but had no idea how to use it. Now I do!

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