The Secret to Sewing Buttonholes on Stretchy Fabric

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Are you scared of making buttonholes?

If so, you’re not alone...

Even people who have been sewing for years get nervous about it. After all, you could spend a few hours sewing something and then ruin it with a botched buttonhole.

Making buttonholes on stretchy fabric is even scarier — more things can go wrong!

We have a few projects coming up in our monthly subscription box that feature buttonholes, so we wanted to give you some tips on sewing them. At ThreadCrate, we choose projects that are geared towards people with beginner to intermediate sewing skills, and sometimes that means buttonholes. We hope to minimize some of your fears and give you the confidence to attempt them!

Always Stabilize Your Fabric

Because knit fabric is stretchy, the secret to creating buttonholes that look even and do not get stretched out is stabilizer. For best results, you’ll want to use a lightweight fusible on the backside of your buttonhole area.

Fusible tricot interfacing is a good option for stabilizing buttonholes on knit fabric because it has a little bit of stretch. It’s a versatile interfacing that we recommend having on hand for a variety of purposes beyond buttonholes. You can also use it to stabilize collars and hems on knit garments!

Alternatively, you could use a tear-away stabilizer. This is a good option if you’re worried about someone seeing the backside of your buttonhole because tear-away stabilizer can easily be removed once your buttonhole is created.

Whenever you’re creating buttonholes on knit fabric that has a texture or visible pile, we recommend using a stabilizer on both the bottom and top of your fabric. A water-soluble stabilizer works perfectly as a topper because it can be completely removed with water after your buttonhole is created.

Several things can go wrong when you’re sewing buttonholes on knit fabric. Stabilizer helps with a lot of them!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

No matter what stabilizer you use, always create a few test buttonholes on some scraps of fabric before attempting them on your garment. This helps ensure your buttonholes will turn out the way you want. Just be sure to sew your test buttonholes on the same number of layers as on your garment and use a ballpoint/stretch needle.

Hopefully your test buttonholes will turn out great, but a common adjustment you might need to make when sewing buttonholes on knit fabric is to lower the tension. Some sewing machines also have special knit buttonhole settings you can try. All sewing machines are a little different, so check your operations manual.

Buttonholes are often the very last step on a garment sewing project. They require careful planning and precision. Don’t rush, and don’t skip the test buttonhole step! The practice really does help.

Pattern Hack for the Harper Cardigan

Did you get the October 2021 women’s crate? It featured some beautiful sweater knit fabric with raised, textured lines. The pattern in the crate was the Harper Classic Cardigan from Sinclair Patterns!

Subscribers have been posting some amazing pictures of their finished cardigans and dusters in our private Facebook group. If you haven’t subscribed to ThreadCrate yet, we’d love to have you join us.

Subscribe Today!

The cardigan pattern did not require buttons, but you could easily add them along the front band. It’s a fun pattern hack that can give your cardigan a completely different look!

Just imagine how great your cardigan would look with some rustic buttons for a cozy look or some chunky novelty buttons for some flair… One well-placed button on a cardigan can even have a slimming effect.

Here’s a pic of a cute wooden buttons on the Harper cardigan from October’s crate. Doesn’t it look great?

The buttonholes were created with a tear-away stabilizer on the bottom and a water-soluble stabilizer on the top. They turned out great!

Are you ready to sew some buttonholes on knit fabric? You can do this! With a little practice, they’ll turn out great.

If you missed our last post, be sure to check it out: 4 Important Tips for Sewing Knits.

Have You Tried ThreadCrate?

ThreadCrate is a sewing subscription box for people with beginner to intermediate sewing skills. We send you a pattern, fabric, and all the notions you need to sew a garment each month. We throw in sewing tools and goodies, too! We hope you'll join us.

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