Making buttonholes that look neat is one of those things that can make the difference between your finished item looking handmade and it looking homemade. In other words, you don’t want to botch it because it could spoil the look of the beautiful thing you have spent hours making.
Buttons are easy to sew on but the holes often cause more of a problem!
When deciding how to finish a buttonhole, there are a number of options. You could use a buttonhole attachment on your sewing machine, or you could uses zigzags, or you could make a bound buttonhole, or you could do something else entirely, like use a snap or a piece of elastic.
Making a Buttonhole With a Buttonhole Foot
This is definitely the easiest way to make a buttonhole!
When I make a buttonhole using the foot, firstly I have to put the button in the slot at the back. This is to ensure that the finished buttonhole is the correct size. Next I attach the foot to the sewing machine. There is a thingy that comes down; that has to be pulled down and positioned in front of the sticking out bit on the foot.
Then choose the shape of the buttonhole from the stitch menu. My machine offers me several choices but there are only 2 I ever use!
The machine will sew the buttonhole backwards, so when I made toddler dungarees for Boy 4, I lined up the front end of the foot with the top edge of the dungarees.
It automatically stops when the buttonhole is complete. Then all that is left to do is cut through the centre of the button hole.
I would recommend having a practise first! I usually do just to check where the buttonhole starts in relation to the front of the foot. I have to admit to making some mistakes though and ending up with buttonholes that are off centre or in the wrong place!
Making Buttonholes Without a Buttonhole Foot
If you don’t have a buttonhole attachment, it is still possible to make a buttonhole using a sewing machine. I used to do this with my elderly Singer because it did not have buttonhole capabilities.
1. Measure the button. Draw a line where you want the buttonhole to go that is the same width as the button. Draw a box round it.
2. Using a straight stitch, sew around the box that you have drawn.
3. Change to a zigzag stitch. You will need the zigzags to be small and close together. Sew over the straight stitches with the zigzags.
4. Cut through the centre of the buttonhole.
Making Bound Buttonholes
This is fiddly and probably best for coats and other items made from heavy fabrics.
1. Identify where your buttonhole needs to be. Iron some fusible interfacing to the back.
2. Measure the button and draw a line the same width as the button. Draw a box around it. Sew around the box.
3. Cut a square of fabric and draw the same box onto it. Pin the fabric onto the right side so that the boxes are aligned.
4. Sew around the box. Cut it like this so that you have triangle at each end.
5. Push the fabric square through the buttonhole. Fold up one side so that it covers half of the hole. Pin in place. Repeat for the other half.
6. Taking care not to sew the coat, sew the folds into the square of fabric. If you use a zip foot, you will be able to get good and close. If you don’t have one it doesn’t matter, it will still be fine.
7. Trim the fabric square.
Alternatives to Making a Buttonhole.
If you find making a buttonhole a fiddly pain in the neck and you can’t be bothered don’t want to, there are some alternatives.
1. Use elastic instead. I have done this on dungarees I have made for Boy 4. All it requires is a small piece of elastic caught between the lining and the main fabric. Another similar option would be to crochet strong thread or double thickness of cotton into chains and use that as a loop for a button.
2. Use a snap. If you specifically want a button because of how it looks, you could sew a button over the top.
3. Use velcro. You could sew a button over this too.
What is your favourite way to finish a buttonhole?
We’re all busy. Life is so hectic whatever stage of life you are in. Whether it is work, kids, other family members, stuff at home, it can be so difficult to find time to do things that we enjoy.
It doesn’t help that it seems to be expected now. We are all expected to be ridiculously busy with work, kids, the kids’ activities, it’s almost as though we are supposed to not have any time for ourselves. Even admitting that you need more that 5 hours sleep seems to be a sign of weakness to some people!
Taking time for yourself though is not selfish. It is necessary! Doing something that makes you happy will in turn make you a better parent, less grumpy and more productive.
Just knowing that isn’t enough though! So how do you find time to make stuff when you have a baby, a toddler who won’t nap, you work long hours and there’s laundry coming out of your ears?
Here are some suggestions for how to find time to make stuff!
Get Up Earlier or Stay Up Later
I have been surprised to learn over the last year or two that I am not the only person who gets up at crazy o’clock to get stuff done! 5.30 am is my absolute favourite time of day. I am not even kidding. The house is quiet, nobody is mithering for stuff, nobody is trying tell me facts about buses or superheroes or why the pigeon wanted to cross the road. If I am lucky I have an hour and a half before people start needing my attention.
It helps that I am a morning person. Even if I have only had 2 hours’ sleep, it won’t hit me until after lunch. You might be more productive in the evening. Personally I am incapable of conversation after 8.30 pm!
Either way, this can be a way of getting more time.
Obviously this might not be an option if you have a baby or if your toddler is an early riser.
It’s also important to take care that by doing this, you don’t become sleep deprived. Getting up early requires going to bed early, and it’s no good sitting up until 2 am if you need to be up at 6.
Use Nap Time
This only works if your children nap!
It can be tempting (or even feel like a requirement!) to use nap time to take care of domestic jobs. Sometimes this is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be necessary all the time. Even if you just take Friday nap to make stuff.
The domestic jobs don’t go away of course, so this brings me onto the next one…
Use Your Time Efficiently
I started reading up on time management when I was pregnant with Boy 3. I was barely managing with 2 small children and the realisation that I would have 3 kids under 5 gave me the kick in the pants that I needed! I made some changes and once I had got through the newborn stage with Boy 3 I found I actually had more time than I’d had with only 2!
The thing to do is to have a good look at what you are doing and when.
See if there are any short cuts you can take or whether you can do things in a more efficient way? For example, getting dinner sorted out in the morning and chucking it in the slow cooker frees up time later on. Meal planning and batch cooking can also save masses of time. Running around the house a couple of times a week with a feather duster keeps most of the dust at bay and it’s much quicker than a cloth and can of polish.
If you are at work during the day, what do you do at lunch time? Louise from Elsie Pop crochets! I wouldn’t recommend crafting while driving, but what could you do on a bus or a train? You could keep something to do in your bag just in case.
Are there any other times when you are at a bit of a loose end and resort to Facebook? I like to play the game, “How much can I get done before the kettle boils?” I know it sounds nuts, but I drink an awful lot of tea! That’s quite a lot of minutes to put away shoes, stuff the washing machine, grab a load in from the line, or empty the bins. This is then all stuff that I don’t have to do later.
I also use a diary for all my to do lists so that I can plan what I’m going to do and when.
If you want to read up on time management yourself, I recommend Time Management For Manic Mums (affiliate link).
Make sure that you are not doing too much for your kids. Everybody can hang up their own coats and bags, put their shoes away and pick up their own mess. Remember this is teaching your children necessary life skills!
If you have preschoolers, get them to help you in the day time. Boy 4 loves throwing the vegetables into the slow cooker, he loves dusting and he helps me wipe down the kitchen! I make my own kitchen spray from bicarb, vinegar and lemon juice, so it’s perfectly safe for him to help me.
Sometimes multitasking can work really well, but often it does not. Listening to a podcast while washing up, or chatting to your kids while folding laundry, or cleaning the bathroom while the kids are in the bath can be an efficient use of your time. But often giving something your full attention is the best way to go about it. Hoovering is much quicker if you are not also watching the telly and cooking while internetting can result in burnt jam all over the hob which then has to be scraped off. That was half an hour I could have spent making stuff!
Also if you give your kids your full attention for half an hour, they will be more likely to let you have 15 minutes to yourself.
I find that this has the added benefit that I feel like I have achieved something over the course of the day, whereas if I have spent all day attempting to multitask and/or mindlessly scrolling through social media, I just feel frustrated and annoyed that I have not really achieved anything or given my time to my children.
Break Things Down into Bite Sized Chunks
This is the only way I ever get stuff done. It would be nice to have big chunks of time, but I rarely have that. I can sometimes find a few minutes though and it’s amazing what you can achieve in this way.
The crocheted flower necklace I posted about the other week was tackled in this way. Although it didn’t actually take that long, there were a lot of steps which meant that I kept putting it off until I forced myself to do it. These were the steps:
Photograph making one flower, then make the rest
Make the eye pin bead sections
Make the head pin with a bead on it
Join the flowers and the eye pins/ head pin
Put the chain on
Put the lobster clasp in
Check that all the elements have been photgraphed
Edit the photos
Write the blog post
Rewrite the blog post as instructions
Make up the kits (there were more steps for these!)
There was no way I would have got it done otherwise!
I know it’s cliche but I love the proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.If you write it all down as a list and keep it handy, you’ll know what to do when you have a few minutes. I’ve got some big craft and blog projects I’m tackling in this way!
Take Up Offers of Help
Lots of people have grandparents that help out with their children, whether they work in a paid job or not. It’s something that often doesn’t get mentioned as we all have to pretend to be superwomen and do everything ourselves. Help with childcare and domestic jobs is largely ignored but is also actually the way that lots of busy people manage to get stuff done and have time for themselves. If you have close family and friends who are up for taking the kids to the park for an hour, let them!
If you do not have people around to help you, consider booking a baby sitter or a mother’s help. You don’t have to go out to use a baby sitter! The sitter could be playing with the children while you cut out dresses in another room. Obviously there might be cost implications here. However, it doesn’t need to cost a lot. Youngsters hoping to work with children will usually be required to gain some experience. Also you might be able to do something else for them instead of paying them. Perhaps you could give them singing lessons, or teach them the piano, or cut their hair!
Finding time is difficult sometimes, but with a little bit of creative rejigging, sometimes it is possible to squeeze more time out of the day!
So find some time, write it in your diary and get making stuff. It’s good for you!
Recently the boys attended the children’s holiday club at our church. They had a great time!
One of the ways in which the children were motivated to join in was by giving them fake coins to put in little purses. They were all counted up at the end of each morning and, at the end of the week, the group with the most coins won a small prize and the individual children with the most coins won prizes too.
Unfortunately the sweet little purses that the girls were given were not very well made and, by the end of the second day, a lot of them had broken. The boys’ purses fared better; the only issue was that some of the tags fell off.
Knowing that this was something I could help with, I offered to make some replacements. As the children needed new purses for the next day, I needed to come up with something that was quick to make but would also be robust enough for the children to put their pirate money into.
So I came up with this!
I wanted the purses to be lined and they needed to have a flap so that the money wouldn’t fall out. They also needed to be quick to make.
They did come together pretty quickly but they took longer than I expected! However i managed to make enough so that the kids whose purses had broken all had a pretty replacement the next day.
Here is how to make them!
How to Make an Easy Button Purse
1. Cut 2 rectangles. One will be the outer, the other the lining.
2. Cut a piece of ribbon or lace the same width as the rectangles. Pin it to the outer rectangle near one end. Sew in place along the edge furthest from the short end of the rectangle.
3. With the right sides together, sew along both the long edges and along one of the shorter edges. Trim the seams and turn out. You might want to give it a quick iron at this point.
4. Tuck the raw edges inside and pin. Sew along the unattached edge of the trim. Hopefully that will also hold the raw edges in place. If not, you will need to tuck a little bit more underneath.
5. Fold the rectangle into three. The top will be the flap. Sew along the edges of the bottom 2 sections.
6. Decide where you want the button to be and make the button hole in the flap.
7. Cut the button hole open and, using a pin, chalk or a pencil, mark where the button needs to go. Sew on the button.
I made about 15 in the end. The little girls liked them and they were robust enough to contain their pirate money! If you like this post, you might also like this post about making a little purse with a pretty lace zip!
Sometimes the best thing to do is to do things the easiest way. One of the things I enjoy doing is deciding how to go about making something in the simplest, most straightforward way.
Sometimes the “proper” way is not always the easiest. Some of these tips below are easier ways than the proper ways, the rest of them are just stuff to make your sewing projects go more smoothly!
10 Top Tips to Make Sewing Projects Easier
1. When threading elastic, use a safety pin. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic then wiggle the safety pin through the casing. The safety pin will pull the the elastic after it. Just make sure you catch the end of the elastic before it disappears into the casing!
2. If you don’t want to mark the fabric, use double sided tape instead of pins. Usually pins are fine, but if you are using fabric where pins will leave a mark, double sided tape is an alternative. Cheap tape (Poundland!) is easier to remove. Otherwise you could pin in the seam allowance.
3. If you are hemming a skirt with a large curve, use bias tape instead. Whenever I make a circle skirt I use bias binding on the hem. It’s so much easier!
4. Consider using bias binding on necklines. I always have trouble with facings! Binding the neckline is an easy alternative that looks much neater and doesn’t keep popping out in an annoying way like facings do!
5. Keep an unpicker handy. The amount of time I have wasted hunting for an unpicker when things have gone a little bit wrong is unreal! Now I keep one in the cubby in my sewing machine and one in my pencil case.
6. Press seams as you go. We all know we should! It does make a difference! Apart from anything it is easier. It also means that if you are sewing over seams the finish will be neater. If you are struggling to press them flat, press them to the side instead.
7. If you are sewing in a zip, sew up the seam, then tack the zip over the seam. Sew in in place then unpick the seam to uncover the zip. You can find a tutorial for doing this here.8. If you are sewing oilcloth or laminated cotton, smear a little bit of lip balm or hand cream onto the right side of the fabric. This will help to prevent it sticking to the sewing machine foot while you are sewing.
9. Add a magnetic snap to a handmade bag. It’s less of a faff than a zip and easier than you’d think! You can find a tutorial here.
10. Don’t bother turning straps the right way out. There is probably an easier way of doing it the proper way but I’ve yet to discover it! I just end up with a crumpled mess and grumpy because it’s taken so long. The easiest thing to do is to cut 2 strips (or just 1 if both sides are going to be the same). Put the right sides together and sew up one of the long edges. Turn it out, tuck the raw edges underneath then top stitch along both long edges.What do you do to make your sewing projects easier?
A few months ago I made these crocheted flower earrings. I have worn them a few times and people have remarked on how unusual they are. I’ve also found that despite them being quite long, they are very light and don’t pull on my ear.
So I decided to make a matching necklace!
If you are a crocheter and you have never tried jewellery making, don’t be put off! They are easy to make. You will need some round nosed pliers though in addition to a 2 mm crochet hook.
I have also decided to start selling kits for some of my tutorials, so if you like the necklace (and the earrings), you might like to buy a kit so that you can make them without the trouble of hunting down the materials to make them! Here is the link to the craft kits page. Otherwise you can find the link in the navigation bar at the top. The kit for the necklace is £5 and the kit for the earrings is £3
I’ll be adding more kits over the next few months, so don’t forget to check back!
How to Make a Crocheted Flower Necklace
You will need: thread and a crochet hook (I used Anchor Pearle and a 2 mm hook), 11 jump rings, 1 head pin, 5 eye pins, 6 chip beads, round nosed pliers, ordinary pliers or wire cutters.
1. Make 5 crocheted flowers. The pattern is the same as for the crocheted hair bobble, which can be found here. Using lighter thread and a smaller hook will produce much smaller flowers!
2. Attach jump rings to either side of 4 of the flowers. For the fifth flower, you will need to attach 3 jump rings evenly spaced around the flower.
3. Thread a chip bead onto an eye pin and bend the other end into a loop. Depending on the length of the eye pins, you might need to cut off some of the excess first. If you are new to making jewellery, practise making some loops first you have an idea of how much you need to make a loop. You will need to make 5 of these.
4. Using the jump rings already attached to the flowers, join the flowers together using the bead eye pin things you made in the previous step. The flower with 3 jump rings will need to be in the middle.
5. Add the last eye pin and chip bead from step 3 to the 3rd jump ring on the middle flower. Thread a chip bead onto the head pin and make a loop. Using a jump ring, attach the head pin with a bead to the eye pin with a bead.
6. Take a length of chain and attach to one end of the flowers using the jump ring. Try it on to determine how long you need the chain to be. Cut the chain using pliers. Attach the other end on the chain to the other end of the flowers.
7. Find the centre of the chain and break one of the links. Use jump rings to attach a lobster clasp.
Now wear it out and wait for people to admire it! Don’t forget, if you want buy a kit to make this necklace, you can do so here!
If you haven’t already, you might also like to have a look at the tutorial for the matching earrings, which can be found here!