Double-stitched buttonholes

Sometimes regular buttonholes just don’t cut it. I’m making a coat from a thick twill that is fairly loosely woven, so the zig-zag edges of the buttonholes must be at least 3mm wide to secure all the threads of the cloth properly. Plus, I want to use thick and glossy nylon thread because I use it for other top stitching. 😁

I have several machines with buttonhole programs, both mechanical and electronic. I normally use Pfaff Creative 7510 because it makes the best buttonholes and has the widest zig-zag – 9mm. And indeed, also this time it was the best automatic option, yet it fell well below my quality standard.

What’s with the loops??? 😝

This silky and slippery thread just doesn’t behave when the machine sews in reverse – I had the same problem everywhere. Plus, even here the buttonhole edges are a bit too narrow.

The standard solution would be to make corded buttonholes, manually. With corded buttonholes, you place a cord under the stitches which reinforces the buttonhole. And as you are making it manually and without reverse stitching, you can make the edges a lot wider. Here is this method described in the manual for Pfaff 230:

In a nutshell, you stitch one side, turn around, and stitch the other side. Hmmm. Turn around your whole coat? Have you ever tried that? You don’t want to do that, I assure you!

I needed a different solution, and a far easier one, because not only were these coat buttonholes, there were 23 of them to make… Ouch.

So I decided to stitch my buttonholes twice. The first time let there be loops with the reverse stitching method of my Pfaff Creative – it is a computerised machine, and the process of making buttonholes is easy, and they turn out all exactly the same, more or less. But yeah, they have loops and the edges are a bit too narrow.

For the second stitching I switch to plain zig-zag and a satin stitch foot. I set zig-zag width to 4mm. Now the only setting that I’ll be changing, is the needle position – left, right or centre. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, you can still use this method, with a little bit more manual fuss.

Step 1. Set the needle right and position the foot at the top of the right buttonhole leg such that the left point of your zig-zag coincides with the left point of the existing zig-zag stitching.  The right point of your second layer zig-zag then falls to the right of the existing narrow stitching.

Stitch over the existing zig-zag down to the bottom of the buttonhole.

Step 2. Move to the left leg: make one or two stitches so as to finish with the left stitch point. Raise the needle, raise the foot and move the material so that you end up at the top of the buttonhole again.

Switch the needle position to the left and position the material under the foot so that the right side of your new zig-zag stitch corresponds to the right side of the existing narrow zig-zag.

Here I found it necessary to pull out a little of the upper thread in order to avoid getting the needle pulled towards me and breaking it.

Stitch over the existing left leg of the buttonhole – and you will be stitching over that piece of thread as well, hiding it from view.

Stitch the leg to the bottom.

Step 3. Switch needle position to right and secure the end of the buttonhole by making a few stitches forward and in reverse – they will end up exactly in the middle of the buttonhole making it look nicely rounded.

You’re all done and ready to stitch the next buttonhole with the needle already correctly positioned! 😀

4 thoughts on “Double-stitched buttonholes

  1. 23 buttonholes is a lot, by machine or hand. However, you look like you have it mastered, and that fabric looks tricky to sew no matter what. Hope you will show us your coat when done!


    1. That material presented some interesting challenges. Most feet would just plough into it and get stuck, but I found one with extra curled up toes and that worked. I’m still working on the coat, and now have 23 buttons to sew on by hand (they are stemmed buttons). 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking forward to the results. I have started and nearly finished hand sewing a linen shift a la 18th century. I also have a bunch of holiday sewing, but that will be machine . . . which machine to use is the question!!


  2. Hi dear Elena, how are you doing? Are you ok? I hope so. I have moved to a new residence, lots of work to do at home but I’m ok with that, it’s some kind entertaining. I was thinking of you and your sewing machines! How is your life these days?


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