Let me start by saying buttonholes are not so difficult that it requires a multi-part lesson. However, in order for me to put this together with four little ones under foot...including a baby...it quickly became apparent I would have to break it down into smaller portions for my benefit.
Everyone seems to have their favorite way of making buttonholes (and for some - avoiding buttonholes) and I am no exception. Fortunately, to my knowledge, there is no 100% correct way. I am sure my way isn't perfect for everyone but it has evolved over 30+ years of sewing for myself and others. I have learned tricks and tips here and there through trial and error and now I will share them with you.
The top in the picture above is designed to button up the back. So I first check to make sure the left and right sides are equal so that the buttons/buttonholes will look right once completed. Fortunately, they do look even...so I continue on. If they did not, I would head back to the sewing machine with my seam ripper and make both sides even by adjusting the hem.
Also I should mention that I will apply my buttonholes to the right side of the top back and then sew the buttons to the left side. People seem to feel pretty strongly about which side they apply buttonholes. You can make that decision for yourself. I mentioned my thoughts here several years ago.
Next, I pull out my Simflex sewing gauge and decide how many buttonholes I desire. At first I thought I wanted four buttonholes....but the distance would have been 3 1/2" in between buttonholes so I decided to increase the buttonhole number to five to decrease the spacing. I usually put my top buttonhole approx. 1/2" down from the top edge. In the case of this top, I want to center the buttonhole on the contrasting band and it just so happens that is at the 1/2" mark anyway. After I determine the spacing, I either make a small dot with a blue water soluble marker or place a pin at the exact spot. In this case, I used the pins.
If you don't have a Simflex, and I did not for many years, then I mark the top buttonhole about 1/2" down from the top edge and then I mark the desired placement of the bottom buttonhole. Then after deciding how many buttonholes you want in between, just divide to determine the placement of the remaining buttonholes.
Just a closer picture of the pins. The pins are equally spaced on this top even though the pictures may make you think otherwise.
Then I pull out my Wonder Tape and cut one small piece per buttonhole. Any thin 1/4" wide tape would work. I use the Wonder Tape because I have it and therefore it is easy. Plus I will be able to re-use it when I sew on the buttons.
I place the edge of the tape along the edge of the fabric where I want the buttonhole to be. This tape will help me make each buttonhole the same distance from the finished edge.
When I am working on this alone I do all this prep work while sitting at my sewing machine. And I only cut one piece of Wonder Tape and use it the entire time. For example, I will measure and make the placement with pins/marker....and then I use a small piece of tape for the first buttonhole. After I make the buttonhole I lift up the tape and move it to make the next buttonhole, and so on and so forth. Does that make sense? Basically this tape is expensive and it can be lifted and reused if you are careful.
Next I further mark the buttonhole placement before I remove the pins. I take a pen and draw an arrow on the tape pointing exactly where the buttonhole should be based on the pin marking. Now you can remove the pins.
Ok, I know this sounds like it must take forever....but I promise you.....had I not been taking pictures I would have had this entire shirt marked up to this point in less than 2 minutes. Like I said before, I usually do all of this while sitting at the sewing machine. Are you all still with me?
Stay tuned because I will be back soon to finish.....until then....Happy Stitching!!!