Notions to Know: How to Sew a Buttonhole

In this post, I covered how to sew on a button by hand. But we all know a button is not very useful without a hole for it! So how do you sew a buttonhole?

Many sewing machines come equipped with a buttonhole stitch and foot. If your machine has this function, sewing a buttonhole is as easy as a little set up and pushing the pedal according to your machine’s instructions. If not, there’s still hope for you!

This post will teach you how to sew a buttonhole using a simple zigzag stitch.

First, mark your fabric where the buttonhole will go. The length of the hole should be just slightly longer than the width of the button. I’m using a 5/8″ button, so my hole will be just longer than 5/8″. When you do this on a real craft, you’ll want to use something easily washable like tailor’s chalk, because buttonholes usually show on the finished product. For this demonstration I’m just using a fabric marker.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next, set up your fabric in your machine with the regular presser foot. It’s wise to use interfacing before you sew a buttonhole to stabilize the fabric, but for this demonstration I’m just using two layers of cotton fabric. Start with the top of the hole below the needle.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Set your machine to a wide zigzag stitch, with a stitch length of 0. Sew a few stitches and then stop.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Adjust your fabric so that the needle is just to the right of the mark. Set your machine to a narrower zigzag stitch with a short stitch length (but longer than 0) and sew the length of the mark.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

When you reach the bottom, repeat the wide zigzag stitch used at the top.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your StuffWorking with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now position your fabric so that the needle is to the left of the mark. Stitch in reverse with a narrow zigzag stitch and a short stitch length.

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now cut your thread and pull the fabric out of the machine. Using a seam ripper and/or small scissors, cut the fabric on the mark. Be careful not to cut the stitches!

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your StuffWorking with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now your buttonhole is ready to go!

Working with sewing notions is important for a beginner learning how to sew a buttonhole - Sew Me Your Stuff

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Notions to Know: How to Sew on a Button by Hand

Buttons are an extremely common item that we’ve all encountered. And if you’re like me when I started sewing, you probably have a basic understanding of how a button is attached to fabric but aren’t sure exactly how to sew on a button for yourself. It is a very handy skill to learn, however, and can open you up to a wide variety of crafts and projects to complete.

Here is a guide on how to sew on a button, and hopefully you find it helpful!

First, you’ll need a button, fabric, and corresponding thread. For this example I’m using a sharply contrasting thread, but typically you’ll want one that matches your fabric and/or button.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

We’ll start on the underside of the fabric, the opposite side from where the button will be. Starting from this side, stitch a small “X” on the front of the fabric to mark where the button will be. Your loose end of thread will be on the underside, but this “X” will be on the outside. If your button slides around during stitching, use this “X” to keep it in the right spot.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Place your button right on top of this “X” then place a pin, needle, toothpick, or similarly-shaped object on top of the button. This will keep you from sewing the button too tightly, which will be important later. This object is called the spacer.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next, starting from the underside of the fabric, push your needle up through one of the holes of the button and down through another hole across your spacer.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Repeat this for the second set of holes if you’re using a 4-hole button like I am.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now repeat the process multiple times for each set of holes. You can get creative and criss-cross holes if you’d like, but for simplicity’s sake I’m just going straight across. Three times per set of holes (6 total) should be sufficient.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Finally, from the underside of the fabric, push the needle up through the fabric but not through a hole. The thread should come out from under the button.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now remove your spacer and lift your button away from the fabric. Thanks to your spacer, there will be some slack.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now circle your thread around the slack below the button to form the shank. The shank gives the button some height so that it can sit on top of the fabric when pushed through the buttonhole. The thicker your fabric, the more times you should wrap the thread. For most fabrics, 6 times is enough.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now push your needle down through the fabric to tie off the thread. I do this by first pushing the needle through the stitches but don’t pull it all the way through to form a loop in the thread and use that to make the knot. Then take the loose end from the beginning of the process and tie a square knot.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Trim your ends and you’re done! Your button is ready for action.

Learning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your StuffLearning how to sew on a button is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Helpful Link: Sewing Patterns are Your Friend

I came across this blog post on Pinterest and thought it was absolutely great. I have covered how to use sewing patterns in a few past posts: Choosing a sewing pattern, A Bag’s Life parts 1 2 & 3, and this video on reading patterns.

I loved this blog post though and really wanted to share it. If you’re ever in a jam, it’s a helpful guide to reading all those numbers on the back of the sewing pattern.

Click the image to read: Tales of a Trophy Wife: Sewing 101: Patterns are your Friends

Learning how to use sewing patterns is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

How to Attach Fusible Interfacing

It’s time to take a little break from the sewing machine and talk about fusible interfacing. It is a very handy tool that is really worth your time to learn how to use properly!

I first mentioned fusible interfacing in this post about important notions and tools you’ll need to know as you expand into new crafts and projects.

Interfacing is used to stiffen fabric so that your finished project will hold a certain shape. It’s usually used in collars and buttonholes but has many applications. Interfacing can be fusible or nonfusible. Fusible interfacing can be attached to fabric using heat, but nonfusible must be stitched to the fabric.

This post will help you learn to apply fusible interfacing using your iron. Remember, you can click any of the pictures to enlarge for clarity.

Things you’ll need:

  • The piece of fabric on which you need to apply the interfacing
  • A piece of fusible interfacing cut slightly smaller than your piece of fabric, typically about 1/4 inch from the cut edge
  • Your iron on a medium/high setting
  • A pressing cloth
  • Some water, in a spray bottle if possible

Having the right equipment is important when learning how to attach fusible interfacing if you are a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here I have set up everything that I need. I’m only attaching a small piece of fusible interfacing to fabric. Notice that the interfacing piece is slightly smaller than my fabric piece. When you trace a sewing pattern, generally you will trace the same size interfacing pieces as fabric pieces. However, before you attach the fusible interfacing, you’ll want to trim it to be about 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric to avoid bulk.

Having the right equipment is important when learning how to attach fusible interfacing if you are a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Place your interfacing right side down on the wrong side of your fabric. In other words, place the fabric on your ironing board wrong side up. Then place your interfacing on top of the fabric right side down. The right side of the interfacing is the sticky side with raised bumps. The wrong side, which is smoother and not sticky, should be face up.

Then place your pressing cloth on top of both pieces. Your pressing cloth should be a thin piece of cotton fabric.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next, spray the pressing cloth with water until it is damp. Dampen the entire area covering the fabric and the interfacing. If you do not have a spray bottle, you can wet your cloth in the sink, but a spray bottle will save you time. You don’t want your fabric to be soaking wet, and a spray bottle will help you aim right for the area that will be over the interfacing and fabric.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

While you set up your fabric, interfacing, and pressing cloth, you should allow your iron to heat to a medium/high setting. Once your cloth is properly damp, press your iron firmly onto a section of the fabric and interfacing for 10-15 seconds.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now there’s an iron-shaped dry spot right exactly I was pressing my iron!  If you have your cloth at optimal dampness and your iron at optimal heat, the pressing cloth should be dry when you lift your iron. Repeat this until you have pressed your iron onto every section of the fabric and interfacing.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

And voila! Now the interfacing sticks directly to the fabric even as I bend it, fold it, and wave it around.

There are varying weights of interfacing to choose from based on the weight of your fabric and your desired stiffness. When you go to the fabric store, they may have a guide handy next to their interfacing bolts to help you choose the right weight for your project.

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Machine Stitches to Know

Hello sewists! I hope you’re getting comfortable pushing fabric through your sewing machine and are ready to get more creative with your stitches, because now it’s time to look at the different stitches your machine can do and when to use them. There are approximately billions of different stitches you can do (estimation rounded up), but here are some of the basic stitches that will come in handy on your machine.

Straight stitch – I hope you’ve already been using this stitch by now as it is the most basic, simple stitch that a machine can do. It can hold together most basic seams and is totally sufficient for a beginner sewist working on early projects and crafts. If you choose not to finish your raw edges and seams, an entire project can be completed using only a straight stitch.

Straight stitches are also used for embellishments like topstitching. Topstitching is simply a straight stitch done on the right side of the fabric that is visible on the completed project. Usually, topstitching will be used to secure a seam allowance in a certain direction, but it can also be used purely for decoration. As covered in this post, you should use a longer stitch length for topstitching.

If your pattern calls for staystitching, this is simply a straight stitch done in the seam allowance that forces a pattern piece to hold its shape during construction. This is often used when a pattern piece cut in one direction will be attached to a piece that was cut in another direction. Use a normal stitch length if you need to staystitch a piece.

If you need to gather some fabric, simply stitch a straight stitch with a long stitch length and pull the ends to cause the fabric to bunch. For an illustration, see this post on stitch length.

Zigzag stitch – A zigzag stitch is exactly what it sounds like, a stitch that directs the thread in zigzag lines rather than straight lines. The primary purpose of a zigzag stitch when stitching a seam is to provide the fabric with more stretch than a straight stitch will allow. Remember these stitches from last week’s stitch length post?

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for a beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Well here is the same fabric, stitched this time with a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffKnowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for a beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that the fabric not only does not pucker as it did with the straight stitch, but it is much more free to stretch.

Zigzag stitches are also used in finishing edges after stitching and pressing a seam. To achieve this, simply stitch a zigzag stitch right on the edge of a seam allowance.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Zigzag stitches are also used to sew the edges of buttonholes. If your sewing machine is equipped for buttonholes, you simply sew a zigzag stitch with an extremely short stitch length to create the buttonhole edges. Be on the lookout for a future tutorial on buttonholes!

Finally, you’ll want to use a zigzag stitch when attaching elastic directly to fabric. Using a zigzag will allow the elastic to stretch and will ensure that the entire elastic strip is attached if you adjust the width or your stitch to cover the entire band.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Blind hem stitch – This is actually a stitch I typically skip and do by hand, but it can come in very handy if you master it. If you look at a dress skirt or dress pants very closely, you can find a faint line of stitches on the outside of the garment where the hem has been attached. This was achieved using a blind hem stitch. The process of performing this stitch is slightly more complicated than a straight stitch or zigzag stitch, so I will have to write a full post on it in the near future.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffKnowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here is a picture of a blind hem stitch in progress and a completed blind hem stitch.

When I say that I do this by hand, I mean I use the stitch demonstrated in this post.

These three stitches combined are truly all you’ll need as a beginner to complete a plethora of different crafts and projects. Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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A Bag’s Life Part 3: The Construction

And now the epic conclusion to the Sew Me Your Stuff saga of how to go from pattern to product – Market Tote Edition.  This post detailed the process of choosing an easy pattern for a beginner and finding notions in the store. This post will guide you through understanding the pattern and setting it up to get started. Now it’s time to learn how to turn that pattern into a finished craft!

The last step mentioned in the previous post was cutting out the pattern pieces needed for your project. The next step will be to trace the pieces onto fabric, but there’s a little preparation before you do that.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

First, you’ll need to iron the fabric to smooth out any wrinkles. Wrinkles can distort the traced pattern and cause your final product to be pretty wonky. This fabric that I’m using I picked from the home decor section of the fabric store, and it’s a simple woven cotton. I highly recommend a fabric like this for a beginner’s craft. It was great to work with!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next you have to flip your iron to a low setting and press your pattern pieces flat. The folds and creases in the paper can also distort your lines, so it’s very important that you completely flatten the pattern piece.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Before you begin tracing, lay the pattern pieces on the fabric to be sure that you’re leaving yourself enough fabric for both pieces. The pattern instructions will often contain a guide to laying the pieces that you can use to help you with this step.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

To help you trace the pattern accurately, you should pin the pattern to the fabric. If your fabric is folded, pin the pattern through all layers. This thin paper can easily be shifted while tracing, but pins will hold it in place.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next it’s time to actually trace the pattern. Because all of the edges are straight, I used a ruler to guide me. This isn’t always possible, but if you can then it will help you keep your lines accurate.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

You can see in this picture that I completely traced the outline of the pattern, but very importantly I also traced the markings on the pattern that indicate where the pocket and straps should go. Make sure you transfer all markings from the pattern to the fabric!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next it’s time to cut! With all the extra markings on the fabric, be sure you only cut the lines that you’re supposed to.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Repeat this process for all pattern pieces. It may be most time-effective to trace all pieces and then cut all pieces, but because of the layout of these pieces I decided to do them separately.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

From here on out I’ll be following the instructions included in the sewing pattern. It’s very important that you start with the first step and follow the instructions carefully. (I actually skipped the checkstand hanger loop)

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Midway through the process. Webbing straps are pretty easy to sew! Notice that all pins are perpendicular to the path of the sewing machine. Most sewing machines can tolerate horizontal pins like this, but if your pins are vertical it can damage your sewing machine!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Sewing the side seams. I had some crookedness in my stitches, but this fabric was very easy to move through the machine.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Cutting the last stitch!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

And voila! We have a bag!

Hopefully this series has helped you see how easy it is to go from cutting the pattern to putting your new tote bag (or other craft) to work. You can really surprise yourself with what you’re capable of making once you get the hang of sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Video: How to Sew a Sunglasses Case

Hello sewists!

Looking for an easy project that you can do with just scraps of fabric? Look no further!

Apologies for the lack of sound. I lost my voice while filming this so I just cut out the sound to spare you all.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A 6″x6″ square of any fabric of your choice
  • A 6″x6″ square of felt or fleece if you would like your case to be cushioned. If not, fabric of your choice.
  • Fabric marking tool (I recommend chalk for this so you won’t have to wash it)
  • Needle & thread
  • Scissors

And that’s it!

This is a great easy project that you can really get creative with. Have fun and happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff