DIY Tutorial: How to make button holes

Haven’t started any new projects lately, especially with all the existing projects on the back burner I had yet to start. Since I had a day off today, I decided to make some progress on these.

I had bought faux shearling coats for my two bengal kitties about a year ago from Pets At Home which looks something similar to this:

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As you can see from the next photo, Tigger (snow bengal, 2.5 y.o) and Nala (brown bengal, 1.5 y.o) already have walking jackets from Happy House Cats (highly recommend them for any cat owners, they’re much safer and more secure than the typical harness)

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Tigger (top) and Nala (bottom)

The only problem is, pet stores don’t sell warm coats for cats, because it’s not really considered necessary, but with the cold Scottish weather (it’s currently 1°C with periods of heavy snow) the walking jacket isn’t enough. The only problem is because the slit for leads is cut around the collar area for dog owners, whenever we walk our two, the back of the coat ends up lifting, allowing the draft to go under the coat which is no use at all to them. So I had to adjust the coats myself to fit with the walking jackets better.

To do this, I made button holes big enough to allow the D-ring attached to the jacket to fit through so we can attach the lead to it with the coats on. I’ve done them by hand only because I feel it’s a necessary skill to learn in case of a power cut and you’re trying to finish off this fiddly task. For anyone who’s never done a button hole before, here’s what you need to do:

First, you need to decide where the hole is going and how wide it will be (you can do this by putting the object – ring, button, etc – that will be fitting through the hole and marking the location and width with tailor’s chalk – I got my piece from the local fabric store for 80p)

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If you’re using a sewing machine for the next bit, you should do the stitches first. Some sewing machines have a button hole setting which will do proper zigzag stitches on all four sides of the hole for you. Otherwise, use the zigzag stitch setting on your machine and decrease the stitch width so the stitches are close to each other. Only when you’ve done the stitches on all four sides do you make a cut, using a ruler for accuracy, along the line you’ve drawn with tailor’s chalk with a Stanley knife (or a boxcutter knife) to avoid cutting the stitches you’ve just made.

To do it by hand, cut along the length of the tailor’s chalk like with a pair of sharp scissors (or fabric shears) until you reach the end markers. Check that your cut is wide enough by slipping the ring/button through (if you’re doing a button hole, you should make sure the button fits snugly).

Thread your need and starting on the underside of your material (or the wrong side of your fabric/the side that won’t be visible when worn), separate the two sides of the cut and putting your threaded needle through the cut, make neat stitches close to each other, so the loop of the thread covers the ends of the cut like in the photo.

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The key is to make sure the stitches are close to each other, so that no loose thread is exposed and this keeps woven materials, like cotton or wool, from fraying. You should also make sure that you don’t pull too hard when you’re stitching (as this can cause parts of your material to bunch, keeping it at an even tension means the material around your button hole remains smooth) and that the thread isn’t too long to avoid it getting knotted.

After spending some quality time with the two kittie’s coats, this is the result of Tigger’s:

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This weekend, I visited Mandors, a fabric store recommended by a friend and felt like a child in a sweet shop. They had lots of lovely fabric for dressmaking, curtains and crafts and can safely say it’s one of three stores I’ll be frequently visiting for my dressmaking/craft needs in the future. While their selection of faux fur wasn’t as extensive as The Cloth Shop on Bonnington Road, or Edinburgh Fabrics at St Patrick’s Sqaure on Nicolson Street, the other two didn’t have black faux fur that I needed which Mandors had.

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I’ve now got the faux fur I need to finish the faux fur snoods I left sitting and it means I need to finish these as well as the Black Watch tartan dress I promised a friend before I start thinking about any new projects. Will post photos of these projects when I’m done.

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