Hot! The “Bad to Better Buttonholes” Blouse

The Facts

Fabric: 1 1/2 yards of a white, drapey cotton shirting material.
Pattern:  Colette’s Violet Blouse

Year: c. 2011
Notions: 7 buttons and a bit of ruffle trim
Time to Complete: 2-3 hours (minus the buttonhole sewing)
First Worn: January 2012
Wear Again: You bet!  This will be one of the staples in my wardrobe.

Total Price: $12

I love the theme for this week’s challenge, Buttonholes, since it was the perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at handworked buttonholes.  And boy are they tricky!  Who would ever have thought that such a basic little stitch could be so challenging to master?!

In preparation of the challenge, I ordered some white YLI silk buttonhole twist, like Sunni suggested in her handworked buttonhole tutorial.  But come Saturday night, mine hadn’t arrived in the mail yet.  Mega Drats!  Luckily I had a backup, some DMC pearlized cotton that proved…. interesting to sew with.

For my prep, I did as Ms. Sunni instructed:

  • Waxed all of my DMC cotton thread
  • Stitched 1/8th of an inch all around my marked buttonholes, on the machine
  • Cut the buttonholes with my grandmother’s awesome buttonhole scissors
  • Applied some fraycheck to the holes (1st time using fraycheck too!)
  • Tacked down my buttonhole gimp

This is a lot of prep work for the little buttonholes and I really didn’t want to ‘waste’ more time by sewing up a practice buttonhole.  So I just dove right in!  It can’t be too hard…

Well peeps, here is my first buttonhole:

It’s not horrible, but it’s not so great either.  Since my thread was so thick, I decided to separate the two strands of the thread and work with one ply at a time.  This was a mistake!  The thread lost a lot of it’s strength and was floppy-like; not at all what normal thread should be like.

Then there’s the issue with the buttonhole gimp.  You can see it between my stitches when you look really close.

And then there’s my stitching… it’s mehh.


After learning from this first buttonhole (which is the bottom-most buttonhole) this is my second-better buttonhole:

For this second buttonhole, I left off the gimp and used the ultra-thick strand of DCM cotton, as is.  Since the DMC thread was so thick, I really didn’t need the buttonhole gimp anyhow.

Due to the thickness of the thread, there are gaps between each of the buttonhole stitches whereas the purls are right next to each other on the lips of the buttonholes.  (I should mention, this thread would be the perfect thickness for a wool coat or on heavier, non-blousey fabrics.)

My handy stitch-work looks a bit more even on this guy, don’t you think?


The trick I found was to use the 1/8 of reinforcement stitching around my buttonhole as my guide for placing each of the hand-worked buttonhole stitches.  The rest of the buttonholes all looks just like my second one, no real improvements, but I also didn’t regress back to the sorry state of the first buttonhole.  heh  I’m thinking that my buttonholes will only really be able to improve once I get my hands on some of the fancy, silk buttonhole twist thread.

I choose to make Colette’s Violet Blouse since I love peter-pan style collars.  Additionally, I needed a basic white blouse in my wardrobe. Can you believe I only have one other 1 top in my closet?!  this blouse is definitely going to be one of my workhorse shirts from now on since it will match with everything.  *hip hip*

I added a bit of white ruffle trim to the edges of the collar to add a bit more flair and I used some clear buttons from my stash.

I am sooo cold!

It was a mistake to take photos in open-toed shoes…. I know that now.  :)

I hope you all do try your hand at handworked buttonholes.  Once you get past the first one or two, it should be smooth sailing.



By day Liz Holder works as a research analyst where she plays with data and charts, but by night she becomes a create-a-holic. She loves creating and learning new things which is why her favorite craft is sewing, which she’s been doing in full force after taking her first sewing class a year and a half ago. There is an endless array of skills, tricks, and techniques for her to research on any given project and at the end she's ecstatic o have created a unique garment that she can then celebrate by sharing it with the blogosphere after which she wears it to work where she crunches more numbers and starts the cycle all over again.


Comments are closed.

  1. bare arms AND open-toed shoes in the snow?? Madness, but you have made a great blouse. And you’ve got a very handy new trick in your sewing arsenal – handworked buttonholes.

  2. Thanks for the challenge, I might give those handworked buttonholes a go. The look great and go with idea of vintage! Have made numerous on reproduction dolls clothes from the 1880’s. Might be time I tried some on big people clothes!!

  3. I am in love! This blouse is so sweet and your buttonholes rock! I think it may be time for me to give this a go!

  4. Very cute! I considered using this technique for this challenge too. Your buttonholes look so neat, tidy and pretty. Very cute

  5. I give you MAJOR cradit for standing in the snow for pictures – I think I may be doing indoor pictures until April at least! Your blouse looks so lovely, and I think your buttonholes look fantastic. Bravo for trying your hand at a new skill!

  6. You’re CRAZY for sanding in the snow–in open-toed shoes nonetheless!–but the shirt if fabulous. You’re far braver than I am (I have an attachment for my machine that scares the bejesus out of me, so I passed on this challenge–yes, I’m a big wussy baby).

    What’s a “gimp” out of curiosity?

  7. I love it! You look so cute freezing in the snow!!

  8. This is so pretty! You must be super cold out there in the snow.

  9. Liz, your Violet is so sweet with the ruffle edge collar! It’s very pretty! I love your hand made button holes. I have made them only once for a challenge last year and kind of got into it once I figured out the cadence of working the thread around the hole. I would do it again, it really adds to a vintage styled garment.

    I too am impresses with you standing in the snow. It’s 1 degree (fahrenheit) here in MN. I can barely convince my dogs to go outside! Stay warm!

  10. Yay! for handworked buttonholes! I didn’t even bother with gimp, and wonder if it will make a difference after washing. I plunged right in without a practice one, too. Your second bh is so lovely :)