Buttonholes · Vintage patterns

Thread loops and needle lace

Thread loops are those skinny loops made with thread (yep, it is what it sounds like) for your little buttons.


Thread loops can be made in different ways but I think the needle lace technique gives the neatest results. After all, this is how you make lace! (Pick up any book on needle lace if you want to know more.)

Prerequisites. You will need a good quantity of thread for making those loops. Choose thread with body, it can be cotton or polyester but it needs to be thicker than your typical high twist sew-all thread. In old terms, use weight 40. The thread needs to be reasonably strong – after all, these will be buttonholes!

You will also need a needle for hand sewing. πŸ™‚

Preparation. Before you begin, you need to plan your button placement like for any other job. Only with loops the buttons sit on the outside of the panel with buttonholes. You need to decide how far from the panel the buttons will sit – this determines the length of the loops.

Anchor the thread. It’s best not to make knots. Insert the needle a stretch away from where you want it and let it emerge at the edge of your loop panel close to where your loop will be.


Pull through the thread until it just disappears in the cloth. Stop. Make a tiny stitch in place and pull it tight. The thread has been anchored without any knots and the tail is hidden.

Start the loop. Insert the needle next to your anchor stitch and let it emerge at the point of the left leg of the loop. Pull the thread through. Insert the needle at the right leg of the loop and let it emerge at the left leg.​

Pull the thread making a loop of correct length. Make sure it’s big enough to get your button through!​ Repeat a few times depending on how heavy you want your loop.

Dress the loop in buttonhole stitch. This is a simple stitch that makes little tight knots all along the loop. Insert the needle into the loop from the back.


Then insert the needle from the front under the sewing thread.


Pull the thread and watch the little knot forming. Pull it tight and push against the previous knot.​


Keep going until the whole loop is covered (it may take a while). Make sure your knots are tight and keep pushing them back.

Finish the loop. When you can’t get any more knots onto the loop, insert the needle at the base of the right leg and let it emerge in between. Pull the thread tight.


Insert the needle almost in the same spot and let it emerge where the next loop will be, ready to begin again!


After the last loop clip the thread close to the cloth – it will be buried in it.

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee πŸ™‚

7 thoughts on “Thread loops and needle lace

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