Do You _Need_ a Stretch Buttonhole Stitch?

There seems to be conflicting information regarding buttonholes on jersey. Some say that they should stretch with the fabric, others say that you must use a gimp thread to prevent the buttonhole from stretching. I’ve tried both ways and the latter seems the most satisfactory. Besides, if you have a stretchy buttonhole, what’s to stop it from stretching undone?

The question becomes: is there a need for a stretch buttonhole? If you look a ready-to-wear t-shirts with functioning buttonholes (they’re rare, but they do exist) you will see that the buttonholes look just like regular ones. So yesterday, after shortening a t-shirt dress that was too short to be a dress and too long to be tucked into my jeans, I used the extra to try some buttonholes.

I had seen on PeacockChic that kitchen paper makes good stabiliser for buttonholes on stretch fabric. I didn’t have any kitchen paper handy so I used tissue instead.

The first buttonhole was without stabiliser, and with a ballpoint needle, you know, the ones that are supposed to prevent skipped stitches. As you can see, that was a waste of time.

Next I tried with a universal needle and tissue as stabiliser.

That looks much better, but not quite as tidy as I would like. I also wanted to try a horizontal buttonhole:

In fairness, I had stretched this buttonhole to see the result. This is why you need a gimp thread (for which I used topstitching thread). Take two:

That’s much better. If I had been making a garment, I would have used matching-coloured gimp thread and taken the ends through to the inside of the facing, but for practice there wasn’t much point.

Now of course, if you have a tug-of-war with it, it will stretch (what wouldn’t?) but for real-life use I think this is perfectly fine.

So you don’t need a stretch buttonhole on your sewing machine, even for jersey. (I have one, but I like this buttonhole, don’t you?)

Sabrina Wharton-Brown

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