Double-Sided Bound Buttonholes

I knew the buttons and buttonholes needed more work. First I fixed the buttons: stitched the larger button using small beads to elevate the button and form a shank, placed a 4mm knitting needle under the second button underneath while I was sewing the pair of button to the coat. I was able to end up with thread button shanks, and the second button was lifted enough that I could get my needle beneath and wind off the threads to form the shank! The buttonholes well that was another story.

First here is the finished coat (with the elevated buttons and bound buttonholes completed) from the front:

coat front

Quilted Coat Front

And from the back – fits pretty well.

coat back

Quilted Coat Back

Now for the double-sided bound buttonholes.

I did a bunch of trials to see if I could find a way to end up with a bound buttonhole finished on both sides with a single piece of fabric. Turns out it can be done. Here’s how.

For the coat I cut 3 1/4″ X 2 1/2″ pieces of fabric (I used the contrast fabric from the reverse side, because that’s where the finishing would end up and I thought the binding should match the rest of the contrast elements).

I used a Frixion erasable pen to mark horizontal and vertical center lines, then marked the stitch lines for the buttonhole. Used chalk to mark the distance from the front edge of the coat then placed the piece of fabric so one end of the buttonhole would align with that chalk line.


Using a 1.25 mm stitch length I carefully stitched around the buttonhole, starting part way along one of the long sides.

Finished stitching the buttonhole overlapping the beginning by a few stitches.IMG_7358

I cut the center opening and snipped as close as I could get to the corners without actually cutting the thread (remember I have a stitched buttonhole beneath and this binding had to completely cover it – it did).IMG_7359

Pulled the fabric through the hole, finger pressed the ends with the small triangles, folded the top and bottom portions of the buttonhole fabric so the folds meet in the center, pinned the fabric so I could tack the ends of the fold closed, removed pins and pressed.IMG_7360

Stitched across the ends so they would stay in position.IMG_7361

Folded under the top and bottom portions of the fabric, pressed. Then folded in the ends and pressed. IMG_7362

Carefully edge stitched (using a 2 mm stitch length) all the way around the folded buttonhole fabric to secure it in position – I used a matching thread for the top and a dark thread to match the main fabric in my bobbin so the stitching on the front side of the coat shows but blends in. This is how it turned out on the reverse of the coat.IMG_7363

Here is one of the button holes on the front of the coat. You can see I didn’t have a lot of play room between the buttonhole and the front binding – I was able to just align the buttonhole so the stitching didn’t overlap the binding.IMG_7367

Here are the buttons done up.IMG_7369

The whole looks a lot more finished than it did with machine stitched buttonholes. In fact, having the stitched buttonhole beneath stabilized the fabric so I don’t have to worry about anything pulling away!

So there you have it – bound buttonholes finished on two sides using a single piece of fabric.

The Craftsy Blog gives good instructions for constructing a bound buttonhole, but the expectation is that the underside will be finished by cutting the facing fabric and blind stitching it to the back of the bound buttonhole. In my situation with the quilted reversible coat I had no facing so I had to figure out another way of finishing the buttonhole on the reverse. Same basic procedure but I finished the buttonhole on the second side by carefully folding the edges and ends and edge stitching the fabric in place.


Quilted Coat – Finished

I got up this morning determined to finish the coat. I’m heading to San Francisco on the 31st for a week-long sewing retreat with Sandra Betzina and I want to take the coat with me (to show off, of course, but also because it will be a good weight for the San Francisco early April weather).

First: figure out a way to carry the contrast band to the finished edge – I accomplished that by inserting precisely the right width of contrast fabric into the binding, carefully pinning it so it would align with the stripe, then stitching the full binding to the fronts. If you didn’t know that was a problem I had to solve, you’d never notice how I solved it. Second, add collar and contrast binding to right side (can’t see it in the image because it’s behind the folded down collar). No problems with that set of operations. Third, set in second sleeve, bind underarm and side seam, add wide binding to cuff. Done. Fourth: finish binding along the bottom including mitred corners at the fronts. Went fine.

Next: buttonholes. W-e-l-l that took some consideration. Because the collar is way too tall for me I realized (rather than cut it down two inches and rebind the top edge which I could do) I’ll probably wear the coat with the collar open and use a scarf if I need more warmth. So I didn’t want a button in the collar. I marked the location for the top button at the point where the collar folds. Then 6 1/2″ lower I marked the second (in line with the top of the pockets), and 6 1/2″ below that I added a third to keep the front closed. Bound button holes or machine stitched? I decided to stitch button holes (at least for now – I am seriously thinking about binding them – not a issue, the stitching will just stabilize the cut edge while I’m doing the binding). I checked the sewn button holes before cutting them open (I can always take out the stitching and restitch, but once cut that’s it!). All good.

Last, buttons: I had four buttons I picked up in Bali – actually they are “rounds” created by Jon Anderson the Polymer Clay artist we visited. I could visualize them as buttons so I drilled two holes in each when I got home. The colours are perfect for this fabric. I sewed the buttons on the outside at the same time sewing slightly smaller turquoise buttons on the reverse. Now I have a problem – the buttons are VERY difficult to button up – the buttons on both sides are large and there is no movement room. Because of their size I wasn’t able to build shanks for each side (I couldn’t get the needle through just one of the buttons without creating a very long thread shank) so they are relatively closely sewn. I’m thinking of taking them off and permanently sew the buttons on the main fabric to the button holes and putting large snaps underneath – one set of snaps would work for both sides of the coat.

For now, however, the coat is done and my sewing room tidied up.


Main Side Front


Main Side Back


Reverse Side Front


Reverse Side Back