I always thought that making buttonholes with a sewing machine was hard but I was happy to find out that I was wrong. Follow this easy tutorial and you’ll be making buttonholes in no time! I’d recommend trying several buttonholes on some scrap fabric before you do it on anything you want to keep. –Molly

Note: I have a Janome Jem sewing machine so these directions are specific to that machine. However buttonholes are very similar no matter what machine you have, as long as it has a buttonhole feature. Consult your sewing machine’s manual to figure out the specifics.

Prepare to Sew


Put your buttonhole foot on your machine. (If you don’t have a buttonhole foot sewvacdirect.com is a good place to look for one.)

Thread your machine and pull the needle and bobbin threads to the left. (I used black thread in my bobbin and white thread for the needle so it would be easy to see which was which.)


In the meantime mark your buttonhole. Many patterns have the buttonholes marked already but it’s easy enough to do yourself. Using a pencil make a vertical “I” shaped mark the same height as the button you’re planning to use.

Sew the Hole


Set your machine to the #1 buttonhole stitch setting.


Pull the buttonhole foot slider forward so it’s larger than the pencil mark. Place your fabric underneath the foot with the needle directly above the far left hand side of the buttonhole mark and lower the foot. You can turn the wheel manually to place needle directly at the top left corner of your mark.

Sew to the end of your mark. You will have a zigzag down the left hand side of the buttonhole mark.


With your needle at the highest position switch your machine to the 4/2 buttonhole stitch setting.


Take 5 stitches in this setting. This will tack the bottom of your buttonhole.


With your needle at the highest position change the stitch setting to the #3 buttonhole stitch.


And sew until the top of the buttonhole mark. This will be the right hand side of the buttonhole.

Set your machine back to the 4/2 stitch setting with your needle at highest position.


Take 5 stitches to tack the top of the buttonhole.

Raise your foot and take your fabric out of the machine. Leave 4″ tails of both the bobbin thread and the needle thread.

Cut the Hole


Now that you have your buttonhole sewn you have to cut out the middle.


Turn your fabric to the wrong side and pull the needle thread through to the back. (Do this by giving the bobbin thread tail a little pull, the needle thread should poke through. Use a pin to pull it all the way through to the back.) Tie the bobbin and needle threads together and clip the ends.


Turn the fabric back to the right side. Pin the top of the  buttonhole as pictured above, right below the top tacking stitches.


Insert the tip of a sharp seam ripper into the bottom of the button hole. Make sure you don’t pierce the bottom tacking stitches. Push the seam ripper through, opening up the buttonhole, until it hits the top pin.


And here is the finished buttonhole!