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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Now you’re going to load the fabric into the tool. First, open up the tool by unhooking the pins on the back.
Take your piece of fabric, and wrap it around 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.
Here’s what it will look like on the back of the tool. The fabric is nice and taut.
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.
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.
Now do the left side in the same way, pushing the fabric to the right this time.
Here’s what it will look like from the back, with the ends tied off.
On the right side of your piece, unhook the pins from the tool and remove the tool.
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.
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.
On the right side, push the fabric for the lips through the window.
Straighten out the fabric on the wrong side, and press it into place.
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 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.