Sewing Tutorial – Using the Automatic Button Hole Facility on a Sewing Machine

Here’s a little tutorial on how to use the automatic button hole facility on your sewing machine. With a little bit of practice, it’s fairly easy and even quite fun! Practice the steps below on scraps of fabric, before doing the real thing. Please note that your specific sewing machine might do button holes slightly differently, always check your manual first if required.

Button hole tutorial 2Mark the button placement with chalk or air-erasable fabric marker – place the button at required position, mark small horizontal lines at the top and bottom of button, move button out of way and join up the marks with a vertical line down the middle.

button hole tutorial 1Place the button into the holder of the button hole foot – push the side tabs together to hold button in place.

button hole tutorial 3Remove the current foot that’s on your sewing machine (press the small button at back of foot, the foot will just fall off)  and replace with the button hole foot (most have the universal bar that you clip the presser onto by lowering the presser lever). Consult your sewing machine manual on changing presser feet if required. Take the thread through, under and out to the side of the foot as shown above.

button hole tutorial 4Pull the button lever down (it hides up in the machine workings and should be to the back left of the presser bar). When you pull it down it will more than likely end up sitting behind the back tab of the presser foot, as shown above. THIS IS NOT THE CORRECT POSITION, SEE NEXT IMAGE.

button hole tutorial 5You need to ensure you move the button lever to sit in front of the back tab of the presser foot, so that it’s now sitting in between both the sticking out tabs, as shown above. These tabs (and the lever stopping against them) are what makes the stitches go down one side of button hole and then back up the other side, so that’s why the position of the button lever is vital.

button hole tutorial 6Change the settings on your sewing machine to the button hole settings (consult your manual if need be). Place the fabric under the foot and line up the needle with the BACK horizontal bar that you marked on the fabric. Lower the presser foot lever and begin sewing. Gently hold the fabric so that it doesn’t go off-skew but don’t stop it being pulled back and forward by the machine. You should get an indication of when it’s finished stitching as it will probably slow down (or stop) the stitching at the last horizontal bar.

button hole tutorial 7When you stop stitching and pull up the presser foot lever, the button hole lever will spring back (ready to sew the next button hole). Gently pull the fabric away and out. Above is what you should end up with, whoo hooo! Honestly, the first few times you do this, that’s how you’ll probably feel, it’s so cool! (My kids would probably say I’m so ‘uncool’ for saying that!) Anyways, trim the loose threads off.

button hole tutorial 8You can use a sharp pair of scissors to open up the button hole, being very careful not to cut through any of the threads. I find it easiest to use a seam ripper. Place a pin through the fabric at the top horizontal bar of the stitching (to stop the seam ripper running away from you and ripping through those stitches, yep, I’ve done that!)

button hole tutorial 9Yay! One button hole!

button hole tutorial 10Check that the button fits through it, another good reason for doing a practice button hole before attempting the real thing.

Hope you find this useful. I think the thing that baffled me most when I first attempted sewing button holes, was the position of the button hole lever. It took me ages to work out that you need to place it in between the tabs. I’d assumed that because it pulled down to rest behind the back one, that must be the correct position. Once I’d worked out that little technicality, button holes became a breeze.

If you’d like to see how to use your sewing machine to sew on the actual buttons too, check out my next post.

If you hate hand sewing buttons into place, you’ll love using the machine for it. So quick and easy!

7 thoughts on “Sewing Tutorial – Using the Automatic Button Hole Facility on a Sewing Machine

  1. Have you got an address where I can send off to get a new manual for the machine as have my book appears to be missing.

  2. Thanks for the post it has just reassured me that I am doing everything correctly and my machine must be broken.The stitches just seem to do whatever they like.Sometimes just going backwards in a straight line, sometimes just stitching over and over in the same spot.So unreliable.I have ruined lots of things that i have made because of this. Do you know if it will cost a lot to put right being a computerised machine?

    1. Did you sort this problem? Sometimes my QE404 will do a perfect buttonhole but more often than not it does the same as yours.

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