Bellini Sewalong: Buttons and Buttonholes October 01 2014

We’re almost finished! Just the buttons and buttonholes to go!

The first thing to do is to mark the position of your buttonholes on your blouse front. But how do you decide where to place them?

Here’s an overly complicated diagram to show you how I do it. This is in mm (not inches sorry!).

a = the diameter of the button

b = the spacing between the holes in the button

c = the size of the buttonhole

d = length of the centre front of the blouse from collar to hem.


First thing to note is that the buttons are applied to the front left side of the blouse, as it is worn. So that’s the front right hand side if you’re looking at the blouse from the outside.

Secondly, I like to place my top button horizontal and the rest vertical, like it would be on a shirt with a collar stand. This is so that you can get the top button closer to the top edge.

The length of the buttonholes is the diameter of the button, plus a margin of 5mm. So as marked on the diagram, c=a+5. For mine, my button diameter is 12mm so the buttonholes are 17mm long.

The top buttonhole is placed 15mm from the neckline (fixed distance) and 5mm to the right of centre front. This gives us a margin of 5mm when the blouse is worn. The blouse centre front is marked by a red dotted line on the diagram (“CF”), and it’s 15mm from the front edge of the blouse (fixed distance).

For the rest of the buttons, the spacing between the buttons is (d-15)/5 where d is the length of the blouse from collar to hem. Since I didn’t lengthen or shorten my blouse, d is 515mm, making the button spacing an even 100mm. If you lengthened or shortened, you can either do the maths and divide it equally or you can just stick with 100mm and have the bottom button closer or further from the hem by the amount you lengthened or shortened by.

For the vertical buttons, the top of the buttonholes is 5mm above the top hole in the button (not the top of the button).

Once you’ve figured it all out on a piece of paper, go ahead and mark your buttonholes on your blouse. I used a pencil, but you may have some tailors’ chalk or one of those fancy fabric pens.

Sew the buttonholes over the markings. Consult your machine’s manual if you’re not sure how to do this (all machines are different).

For the buttons, I like to line up the two sides of the blouse and use the position of the existing buttonholes to place the buttons exactly. Remember, the holes in the button are 15mm from the front edge of the blouse. I like to stick them down with sticky tape to hold them in place.

I used my machine’s button foot to sew them on, with the stitch set to zig-zag, stitch length 0, stitch width at around 4mm, dependent on the distance between your holes. Definitely, definitely use the handwheel to sew the first stitch so you’re sure that you have it all lined up properly. Otherwise you could break a needle. Again, consult your manual if you’re not sure about this.

Once you’ve sewn on the buttons, pull off the tape and clip away the threads.

They should be nice and neat!

And... ta da! Your Bellini blouse is finished! Stand back and admire your work before giving yourself a pat on the back. You’re now proficient in advanced sewing techniques such as sink stitch, French seams and a machine rolled (pin) hem.

Congratulations! :-)

I will be hosting a little show and tell party on the blog on the 9th October which gives you another week or so to finish sewing if you need to catch up. When you’ve finished your blouse, please send me an email to web [at] capitalchicpatterns [dot] com with a photo of your finished blouse and a link to your blog post on the blouse, and/or a few words about your blouse if you want to. I will include all the pictures and links in the show and tell on the 9th so be sure to get them over before the end of the 8th.

I can’t wait to see what you all made!