Monday, April 11, 2011

Tutorial: Stabilizing Thin Fabric for Buttonholes

I have a tip for you about buttonholes. Or rather, stabilizing thin fabric so that it doesn't get sucked into the depths of your sewing machine while making the buttonhole!

On the garment I'm working on, I chose not to use the recommended interfacing, as I want this to be a very airy, casual summer piece. (No stiffness allowed!) However, it has something like 11 billion buttons with accompanying buttonholes, and I'm using a very lightweight cotton swissdot. On all my practice runs, the fabric got eaten by the machine.

I've heard of some people using tissue paper to stabilize fabrics during sewing, but I didn't have any on-hand (that I was willing to destroy). I did, however, have some fusible hem web. This stuff is very thin but strong and smooth enough to resist being pulled into the machine.

Stabilizing Thin Fabric for Buttonholes

1) Mark the location of the buttonhole with a ballpoint pen fabric marker, something darker that you can see through the hem webbing.

2) Baste stitched two strips of the hem webbing on either side of the fabric. Make sure there is enough room for the buttonhole!

3) Stitch your buttonholes.

Please, no comment on how crooked mine are. This is a tutorial on stabilizing thin fabric, not on making perfectly straight buttonholes. I'm not using my own machine, and the Kenmore buttonholer is driving me bonkers!

4) Pull out the basted stitching and simply tear off the fusible hem web! The stuff I used was very thin, so it tore off very easily.

5) Cut your buttonhole, and c'est finis! A (hopefully) lovely buttonhole without it become dinner to the feed dogs. Or if the buttonholes are wonky like mine because you are incapable of lining them up correctly, find some shiny buttons to distract!

Who knew cutting buttonholes could be so pretty! Perfect focus is perfect, yo.

Now, I know there is a chance that not all of the fusible web has come off, but when I went to iron the buttonholes after this picture was taken, I just put a press cloth on top of it. Any residual stickiness seemed to go away. I imagine this would work just as well with some left over pattern tissue paper, anything thin that would tear away easily.

I hope this was helpful! If not, well, at least it's here for prosperity, right? :)


  1. Great idea! I bet any leftovers fusing would just serve to secure your buttonhole threads, too. :D

  2. Great tip!! I've used regular ol' interfacing, but it was difficult to tear off. Hem webbing would be easier. Can't wait to see your finished product!

  3. Love the tute, and love the fabric you are using. Whatever you are making, I bet it will look great!

  4. Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing this! I'm going to try it.

  5. Thank you so much for this great idea! I think your buttonholes look beautiful.


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