Sunday, June 12, 2016

How to Sew Doll Clothes: Sewing Small Button Holes

This tutorial is for the automatic button hole that uses this button hole foot.

Where do you start?

Study your fabric

The first thing you need to do is decide how to strengthen the place where you want the button holes.

  • If it is down a front or back facing - 2 layers of fabric - you will need interfacing. Attach a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the facing before sewing your project.
  • Another way to interface is to place non fusible interfacing behind the button hole when you sew it then trim the interfacing away.
  • If it is a folded shirt band like the one in my Boy Friend Shirt pattern the 3 layers of fabric should be enough
  • If it is on a waist band you may need to use interfacing but also make sure the seam allowances are trimmed away from the area of the button hole.

Choose you buttons

See my How to blog post about buttons to help you decide on a size.


Stitch width

  • When sewing regular automatic button holes you set the stitch width quite wide. My machine should be set on the widest stitch width of 7.
  • I discovered that setting the stitch width at 4.5 makes each leg of the button hole narrower. I experimented with 4 but decided on 4.5.
  • The button hole is neat at 4.5 and not chuncky looking. It is also wide enough to stop the edges fraying easily.


  • Unfortunately there is no other way to get the right size button hole than to guess and check.
  • The easiest way to explain how I set my button hole foot is to say that from the closed position I moved the slider 4 clicks.

  • You can't use the button to set the slider because the small buttons just fall out.

  • If you are using a 1cm button you can place it in the foot. If you don't mind this size then it is by far the simplest way to go. You don't have to guess.


  • Once your foot is set attach it to the machine and pull down the stop lever.
  • Prepare a test piece using the same number of fabric layers as your garment - 2 plus interfacing or 3 layers of fabric.
  • Stitch a test button hole. I did several tests.

Cutting the button hole

  • Since the button hole is so small it is best to use pointed scissors or you button hole slasher to make a start at the centre.
  • Use sharp pointed scissors to snip towards each end from the centre. Don't snip too close to the end. Leave a few threads un cut.

Check the button goes through

  • Push the button through to check. Adjust the clicks on the button hole foot slider is needed and do another test button hole.

The Real Thing

The button holes

Once you have done your test and are happy with the result it is time to work on the garment.
  • Position your buttons and put a pin at the centre of the button position on the button band - the doll's left hand side. Leave these pins in while you sew the button holes.
  • Line up the button hole band next to the button band. Line up the centre of the test button hole with the pin and place a pin in the button hole band at the bottom of the test button hole.
  • The button hole stitches from bottom to top so you need to know where to start.
  • In the photo I am working on the cuff. Because it is 2 layers of fabric I pinned a piece of interfacing behind it. I have marked the position of the bottom of the button hole with a pin.

  • It is best to mark all the button holes now then draw a line about the length of the button hole, above the pin, perpendicular to the band. Leave the pins in because it is much easier to see the pin than the end of the drawn line.
  • The photo is of the cuff. I have drawn a line to help me centre the button hole and keep it straight.

  • I say to draw a line because I found that the shirt tended to slide sideways without me knowing and the button hole was off centre.

The buttons

  • Using the pins you had to show the position of the buttons, tape the buttons on and use your button foot to stitch them down.
  • In this photo you can see I had some trouble centring some of the button holes. That is when I decided to draw the line. This yellow shirt is my first attempt at tiny button holes on a garment. They are not perfect yet.

  • The plaid shirt was my second go at button holes. These ones had 1cm buttons and they seem to be a lot neater. I will persevere with the tiny ones. It won't be long before they are perfect.

I realise that I am new to doing small button holes and the photos I took didn't exactly match the steps I finally settled on but they give you a good idea of how they will turn out and I hope that you can see that it is mainly a matter of giving it a go.

Happy Sewing,