How To Make A Buttonhole On A Sewing Machine

Last Updated on 9 months by Susan Mayrich

You can learn how to make a buttonhole on a sewing machine in this step-by-step tutorial for machines with an automatic buttonhole feature. However, we’ll also share tips to make buttonhole sewing even easier, especially for beginners. 

how to make a buttonhole on a sewing machine

And if you own a specific sewing machine brand, please browse our other tutorials. For example, read how to make a buttonhole with a Singer sewing machine or check how do you make a buttonhole on a Brother sewing machine.  


How To Make A Buttonhole On A Sewing Machine For Beginners


  1. Test the buttonhole style on a piece of scrap fabric 
  2. Stabilize the fabric with a fusible stabilizer and mark the end of the buttonhole from the edge of the project and where you want the hole would be
  3. Get the automatic buttonhole foot of your sewing machine and put the button behind it, so it can measure for the buttonhole that’s appropriate for its size
  4. Attach the buttonhole foot on the sewing machine accordingly
  5. Lower the buttonhole lever and select the buttonhole style you want for the project 
  6. Place the stabilized fabric under the foot with the needle positioned to penetrate between the marked lines
  7. Lower the needle into the fabric and ensure that the material is aligned correctly so the buttonhole will be straight
  8. Start sewing with the machine and allow it to work all the sides of the buttonhole
  9. The machine will stop sewing automatically once done
  10. Then, to continue sewing more buttonholes, lift the foot and realign the fabric accordingly
  11. Once finished, remove the material from the machine 
  12. Trim the thread tails and proceed to open the buttonholes


How to open a buttonhole

  1. Pin the ends of the buttonhole to protect the rest of the fabric
  2. You will be opening the slit in the middle of the buttonhole stitching either with a seam ripper or a special buttonhole cutter
  3.  If you’re using a seam ripper, start at one end until you reach the middle
  4. Repeat the process with the seam ripper on the opposite end of the buttonhole to finish opening the slit for the button
  5. If you’re using a buttonhole cutter, you will put the buttonhole on the block of the set
  6. Position the chisel on one end of the buttonhole and push it down
  7. Rock the chisel to cut through the slit and finish until the slit is entirely open 


What Stitch Is Used For A Buttonhole?

The stitch used for the buttonhole is the buttonhole stitch, also called the button stitch or the close stitch. It is a technique that is used for embroidery and embroidered lace similar to the blanket stitch. 

This stitch type is helpful for buttonholes because the stitches are sewn closely together, strengthening the edge of the slit for the button. As a result, the opening won’t fray quickly, and the finish is also more professional-looking. 

However, machine buttonholes are made with two parallel zigzag stitches. And depending on the machine you have, there are various shapes for the buttonhole:

  • Box buttonhole
  • Rounded buttonhole
  • Keyhole buttonhole
  • Stretch buttonhole


How Do You Machine Sew A Buttonhole Without A Buttonhole Foot?

You can still sew a buttonhole even if you don’t have a buttonhole foot or an automatic buttonhole feature on your sewing machine.

  1. Measure the diameter of the button
  2. Mark the fabric with your desired buttonhole opening or use the button measurement plus 2mm 
  3. Draw a line perpendicular to the top and bottom of the buttonhole opening so that you have a capital i marked on the fabric
  4. Position the fabric under the machine so that the top bartack is aligned with the center of the foot opening 
  5. Set the sewing machine to the widest stitch but at zero for the stitch length 
  6. Sew to the right side of the buttonhole marking with a zigzag stitch and ensure that the left needle position is next to the marking and the right needle position is aligned with the outer edge of the bartack 
  7. Work on the right side of the buttonhole until you reach the bottom bartack, which you’ll sew according to your preferred settings 
  8. Use the same side zigzag stitch settings for the left side of the buttonhole with the correct position of the needle
  9. To secure the threads, pull them to the backside and knot before trimming the excess

Read how to use different sewing machine feet to familiarize yourself with other sewing machine attachments. 


How Do You Make A Simple Buttonhole?

  1. Stabilize the fabric with a fusible stabilizer before marking it according to the button size plus ¼ inch 
  2. Place the material under the buttonhole foot so that the needle hits the T-shaped markings at the back of the buttonhole
  3. Lower the needle and select the buttonhole stitch
  4.  Sew accordingly and stop once you reach the endpoint and then sew for about six stitches
  5. Do the same for the back of the buttonhole
  6. Remove the fabric from the machine and leave the thread tails long
  7. Pull them to the back and knot to finish



And that’s it! We just discussed how to make a buttonhole on a sewing machine, which is very easy because the buttonhole foot and automatic buttonhole setting on the sewing machine will measure and make precise buttonholes for you. 

However, if your machine doesn’t have these features, you can still manually make the buttonhole yourself with a zigzag foot and zigzag stitches. We hope you learn a lot; leave us a question if you still have any. 


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