Buttonhole Talk

Tonight I made up some samples in my cranberry fabrics  of corded buttonholes so we could discuss. I have an older Pfaff, which I love. It's buttonholes are OK as long as there are no lumps from seam allowances near the buttonhole to mess up the computer and its stitch counting. However, when I can use it, as I did on the cranberry dress, it does work up a very nice corded buttonhole. If you have this buttonhole foot on your Pfaff, you may be one of the legions, like myself, who didn't know there was a top or bottom. It seems to work either way, but not very well. Then one day I looked at the tiny markings on the foot. Didn't really know there were any there. I did this because I had read somewhere on the web about it only going one way and you have to have the marking as you would normally read writing. duh....Well, since that enlightenment my BHs have improved immensely. So first make sure your foot is on correctly. I am showing your my Pfaff foot. Most recent machines will have some sort of accommodation for making a corded buttonhole but it may not be like the Pfaff's. So get out your manual and see what it says. OK,,,,

I have my fabric, some very lightweight stabilizer, probably ten years old so who knows what it is, and your cording material. Here and on the cranberry dress I am using floss, all 6 strands. Pearl cotton works wonderfully as well and even a couple of strands of your sewing thread. Just don't use anything with lots of fibers, like yarn.

You can see my foot has a prong on either end. Cut a piece of cord a good 10 inches so you will have something to handle. While your foot is on the machine, and not in space for taking photos, wrap the center of the cord around the back prong. Pull the cord under the foot and place the cords into the slots in the other prong. Give them a tug. On my machine they will now stay in place.

This photo, against the fabric shows this step a little better. Holding your cords slightly snug and out of the way to the left, start making your buttonhole. Just let it do its thing.

When done, you will have something like you see at the left. The BH on the right is the basic machine BH. The threads weren't clipped very well for what we are doing here. In real life, I always take them to the back and knot. Now, hold the buttonhole between your thumb and finger and pull the cord with the other hand. It may take a few tugs  but go easy on this or you can get loops and knots. Now it will look like this and you can cut off the cord at the bottom OR you can thread a large eyed needle and bring them to the back and knot and trim. I don't like the big knot on the back so I just carefully snip the cord on the front.

Next I take my stabilizer off the back of the BH. Then I give the back a good soak of Fray Bloc. Off to the ironing board where I iron it dry till the Fray Bloc is all dry. It only takes a few seconds. Now it is ready to clip. I highly recommend a buttonhole chisel and board if you don't have one. You will wonder how you did without it.

Always make sure you do test buttonholes to try the fit. Adding the stabilizer, Fray Bloc, and cord will definitely tighten up the hole. Make sure your samples have all the parts before you decide how big it should be. This is really  one of those tiny details, machine details, certainly not couture. But it is quick, easy, and gives a niced finish than just the basic machine BH. Here you can compare the differences.

Each sample has a corded BH and a regular machine buttonhole. The cord really fills in and smooths the stitching out. Hope you give this a try and definitely go check your manual as all machines are a bit different. I don't see why you can't place a pin about a half inch above the BH and wrap the cord around the pin and just hold it straight under the foot. Did Nancy Zieman do that once on her show? .....Bunny


  1. Lovely corded buton holes! Thank you.

  2. Those buttonholes are beauties.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  3. Thanks for the explanation and the beautiful photos.


  4. I tried to use a pin to anchor the floss when I was using a foot that didn't have the hook for corded buttonholes. The pin didn't anchor the floss very well but I did find a decent substitute. I used paper tape to anchor the floss and it worked great. It didn't leave any sticky residue on the floss or fabric either.

  5. I have yet to make a corded buttonhole, but now that I see how it's done I think it's time for me to give it a try. Thanks for the explanation and photos!

  6. Thanks for the tutorial. It sure makes a difference.

  7. Bunny, thank you for the very clear explanations. Now I have to try some corded buttonholes. Gita

  8. This is the same foot I have. I never knew what those little prongs were for. I think I've always turned it the right way, but I'm not sure. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I never like the way my buttonholes look. My old, old singer that I got when I was a teen made the best ones.

  9. Thank you Bunny for this excellent overview of corded buttonholes. I've always been afraid they were too difficult since I had never seen them done before. I now feel brave enough to try them myself. I have a Viking and my buttonhole foot will work. I had to do a google search to see if there was a specific foot for this :-)
    Thanks again! As always, I love your BLOG!

  10. Excellent tutorial. You know, I've never made a corded buttonhole before. I've always had buttonhole feet with the prongs, knew what they were for and what to do, just never did one. I'll have to remember this for the near future to try out.

  11. thanks bunny, like the others, I have never made one either but sure going to go try it right now!!! I'll let you know how I do!!!

  12. I have an older Pfaff 1473CD ( a truly great machine) with that type of foot, so your tutorial is perfect for me as I am easily intimidated by such things as buttonholes and zippers. I would not have considered the problem of sewing a BH over a seam. Thank you!


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