Hand Sewn Buttonhole Stitch || Historical Techniques


To begin, first mark out the length of your
buttonhole. For demonstration purposes, I’m making a 3/4
inch-long buttonhole, but always be sure to do a test to make sure your button can go
through easily before starting on your real garment. I’m carefully making a slit along the pencil
line with smalls scissors, but historically these were often cut with a chisel and hammer. As much as possible, be sure to cut along
a single straight thread. Now it’s time to securely bind off the edges. I’ve threaded a needle with a doubled thread
made from 2-ply silk, since buttonholes were visible on garments, finer threads such as
silk was often used. Begin by inserting the needle inside the buttonhole
slit, and poking through a couple of millimetres above the cut edge. This is just to start off, so repeat this
stitch, coming up again in the same place. This time, when your needle is partway through,
take the tail end emerging from the fabric, bring it under the needle, round to the other
side. Then wrap it around the tip of the needle
like so: under, then over. Pull the needle through, then tighten the
thread in a downward motion. This creates a small knot at the edge. Now take your next stitch, repeating these
steps. Bring the tail over, up, under and around,
pull the needle through and down. The reason we are pulling down is so that
the knot sits right at the open edge of the buttonhole, in order to protect that raw edge
from the friction of the button. If you pulled the needle upward, the knot
would sit at the top of the buttonhole, which wouldn’t be much use. Now just repeat this a bunch of times. You’ll notice that I’m leaving a bit of a
gap between the stitches. Like historical eyelet holes, buttonholes
were not bound super densely, as is commonly believed today. A denser bind means more stitches, which can
mean double the time. When you have tens of these things to do–and
the rest of the garment to hand-finish–you’re definitely not about that life. You’ll notice that the knotted edges still
encase the raw edge of the fabric completely, helped by the doubled thread. So the buttonhole will still be strong enough
without requiring so much time and effort. When you’ve finished the top row, round the
edge by taking a few pivoting stitches.Then just continue on as normal. When you get to the end, round your last corner,
then anchor your stitch on the underside of the fabric before knotting off. And there you go: the perfect historical touch
to finish off your new–old–garment! Now I’m sure you have about twenty-seven more
of these to do so, off you go!

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