Friday, 11 October 2013

Fabric Covered Buttons in Five Easy Steps

I have been doing a little pattern testing for someone (results to be shown very soon) and part of the pattern involves buttons and instead of my usual buttonhole cop out of using snaps (see here and here) I  could see how the  print would be perfect for fabric covered buttons.  I have always feared these.  My experiences with covering metal buttons have not been good- having to paint the metal to stop shiny metal showing through.   This version using Sewline plastic self cover buttons, is a breeze.  The only downside is the button shank is a little high- OK for a dress, not so good if it was a shirt or blouse.
5 Steps to Fabric Covered Buttons

  1. A circle template is provided on the back of the packet.
  2. Draw round and cut out, centring or fussy cutting pattern/motif if desired.
  3. Using polyester thread for strength, stitch line of running stitches 1/8" from the edge, pull and drawn in around button securing the thread in the fabric folds with stitches and knot.
  4. Place the plastic washer dimpled side down on to button covering all raw edges.
  5. Place button shank on top of polyester thread spool and press- this secures the washer.  
The fabric I used was Flumes from Sarah Watson's Luxe in Bloom range for Art Gallery fabrics, you might find some at M is for Make.  Courtney at Seamstar sells larger plastic self cover buttons.  I used 15mm-5/8" from ebay.

A post about buttons but also about sewing machines.  I have had a few sewing machines in my life and my most recent, Janome Horizon 7700 has been the best but I have also learnt that no single machine will do everything.  The Horizon is a beast over different thicknesses, a wonder with its accufeed system and a pleasure to quilt with.  It does have its downfalls.  The zipper foot is way too chunky and the accufeed foot will put bag and pillow zips in much more efficiently than the standard zipper foot every would. The buttonhole feature is truly disappointing.  Its overly automated so that a single step of a 4 step buttonhole can't be isolated, it automatically sews an entire buttonhole and is not consistent in this.  It also prefers to work out the size of buttonhole through a sensor system- these always come out too big for clothing and smaller buttons.  
The sensor system is very sensitive and if slightly jogged during a series of buttonholes- e.g on a shirt- random small and mishaped versions appear (see above)- very frustrating when sewing on fine fabric like lawn which doesn't take to kindly to constant unpicking.   I have a potential solution, involving a Featherweight attachment, just awaiting delivery...
sib blog


  1. I agree about a sewing machine, even a beloved one, not always being perfect. Have you tried bound buttonholes? I think they'd look so elegant on your dresses and wouldn't stretch out of shape like regular zig zag ones. Here are two links that do a good job explaining the process. and It seems like an intimidating process but really it isn't. You could try it a few times on scraps and your confidence will soar.

    1. I like your idea Lucy! I have done a bound pocket before but not a buttonhole. although I think they are suited to a larger button maybe? They do have a lovely finish

  2. When I've covered big metal buttons before and the metal is likely to show through I've used a little scrap of thin interfacing - not fused to the fabric just sat next to it. Not tried it with small buttons because I find those fiddly to make in the first place without extra bulk!

    What a pain your machine seems almost 'too clever' for what you want at times!

  3. Interesting, I have found that the button hole is a bit inconsistent too. I also agree that one misstep with a slight bump or bit of friction will ruin the button hole.

  4. Hi Verykerryberry just stumbled on to your blog and absolutely love it. Started blogging myself this year and am just learning to sew and crochet. I can knit but am finding that my sewing is taking over - I have lots to learn and love reading fabulous blogs like yours - hope you don't mind but I am going to put you as one of my favourites. I am also planning a giveaway on 1st November of a Sophie Tilley dolly bobbin so please take part. Thanks for a great post, you are so informative and interesting. Have a fabulous weekend,
    Lots of love
    Dorothy's Room

  5. I am eager to hear your solution because I've never been happy with the buttonholer myself. one of the most disappointing things about the machine imo. i also never use the zipper foot either--the open toe accufeed works better.

  6. Could you pop a slightly smaller button than you'll be using, in the auto thingumy? Won't help with the wobbles, but would make them more snug.
    I haven't tried the plastic buttons, but might now x

  7. I actually like the zipper foot. I can sew really close in and often use it for top stitching very close to the edge. Totally agree about buttonholer. I dread using it because of the hiccups. I am eager to hear about your possible solution. :)

  8. I've only used the metal ones I have to admit, although I've had no issue with them - a little woven fusible on the back can help if it's really sheer.

    I must be the only one happy with my button holes (I did 9 yesterday alone!) *slinks off into the corner with Big Brother and his amazing buttonholes*


Thank you for taking the time out to leave your thoughts, I do very much appreciate you stopping by! Blogger is not sending comments through by email at the moment so I'll reply in the comments.