Main
Page
main page
Home
Search this site
Search

How to Hand Stitch Buttonholes

Main
Page
main page
Home
Search this site
Search
Site
Map
previous page
<Turn
next page
Page>
Site
Map
previous page
<Turn
next page
Page>

Page Last Updated:
Sunday, 01-Jun-2014 23:43:09 EDT

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

    Since there were no mandatory standards for buttonholes during the 1800's, the only way to know what stitch was used on a particular item, is to see that item. The fact that these uniforms were not made in large factories, further compounds the problem. Since the work was contracted out, even items of the same exact style and from the same depot could easily have different stitches used. But there were standard practices that tailors and seamstresses followed. I was lucky enough to be taught how to sew by my mother and my wife's grandmother was a professional seamstress all her life. Of course that doesn't take us back to the time of the American Civil War, but it does date to the late 1800's and turn of the century. The buttonhole stitch is the one that my wife's grandmother used, as taught to her by her mother. I've never made a close inspection of Civil War buttonholes, but the ones I remember seemed to use this stitch.

    The WHIP STITCH is NOT an appropriate button hole stitch and would have only be used by someone that did not know how to sew, to repair an item when no other choice was available.

    I think the proper thread for medium to heavy weight fabrics, would have still been the "Silk buttonhole twist", size 8/3 D, E or F. Any thread used needs to be waxed and pressed before use.


Buttonhole Stitch
The Buttonhole Stitch

The Buttonhole Stitch

    The buttonhole stitch is the most appropriate stitch for sewing buttonholes. It is used to prevent fraying of the buttonhole. Since it has a small half-knot at the top of each stitch it is also less likely to unravel if the thread is broken, something that is likely to happen eventually, from use. To get the most strength, it is important to wax and press the thread before use. The waxing will strengthen the thread and prevent twisting while sewing the buttonhole.

    You can sew the buttonhole stitch in any direction. Hold the thread along the top edge of the material, with the end pointing in the direction you are going to sew. Make a loop, with the top of the loop pointing upward. Inserting the needle through the loop, then into the fabric from the wrong side and then through the large loop left on the right side of the material. Tighten your stitch, keeping the purl on top by see-sawing the thread and using your fingernail. The additional stitches are created by arching the thread over the right side opening of the buttonhole in the direction you are sewing, then looping down and back around in the opposite direction your are sewing, through the loop at the top, then through the material from the wrong side about 1/16th of an inch from the last stitch, through the large loop on the right side and then tightening as before. Continue doing this all the way around the buttonhole until done.


Overcast Stitch
Overcast & Cross your hand

Overcast & Cross your hand Stitch

    The "Cross your Hand" stitch is also a good stitch for buttonhole as is less likely to unravel than a overcast/whip stitch. It also prevents fraying as does the buttonhole stitch. It is basically a series of whip (overcast) stitches sewn in one direction and then returning with a series of whip (overcast) stitches in the opposite direction. Both directions of stitches go through the same hole, creating a "V". The "V" should be about 1/16th of an inch deep and 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch apart. This knot can be started and completed with a simple knot, starting from the wrong side. Since there is no knot at the top of each stitch, if you break both threads in the same spot they will start to unravel. For this reason, the buttonhole stitch is a better stitch for buttonholes. For the best strength, the thread should be waxed, as for the buttonhole stitch.


Blanket Stitch
The Blanket Stitch

The Blanket Stitch

    blanket stitch is similar to the buttonhole stitch in finished appearance, but lacks the knot at the top. Is is basically a series of half hitches. This stitch can be started the same as the buttonhole stitch, except the needle enter from the right side of the material. As it exit the wrong side you bring the needle through the loop of thread at the top of the stitch, creating a half hitch. As with the "Cross your hand" stitch, there is no knot at the top and if the thread is broken, it will unravel. Again, the buttonhole stitch is a better stitch for buttonholes. For the best strength, the thread should be waxed, as for the buttonhole stitch.

TOP   AzRA LogoWelcome Page