A New ‘Twist’ On Buttonholes

Buttonholes !?! Hopefully the title, and the pun, didn’t put you off.

For those not used to garment sewing, the word “buttonhole” can invoke fear, bewilderment, and a look as if one has just bitten into a lemon.

They’ve always had this air of mystery and a reputation for being tedious, often with less than desirable results. No wonder zippers and hook and loop tape became so popular! lol!

Well, NO more!

These days, ANYONE can incorporate functional and decorative (YES! decorative!) buttonholes in ANY project they choose to make. Quilters take note, they aren’t just for clothing any more! Even YOU can conquer the fear of buttonholes by using them to your advantage. As with most things these days, the machine and the right tools makes ALL the difference!

I’m happy and proud to say that this blog post was inspired by a fabulous project two of my colleagues/ bosses,  (National Education Manager and Janome Life’s very own Liz Thompson, and Marketing and Education Director Debbie Bates) had made. Though the photos below are of dubious quality (I’m a terrible photographer, especially when in a hurry!) you can still see the clever magic of this adorable quilt.

Front of QuiltBack of Quilt

Instead of just tying the quit with yarn, or attempting to use either a long-arm or domestic sewing machine to free motion quilt the layers together, Debbie used buttonhole stitches as the ‘quilting’. I know, neat idea, right?!

These buttonholes are NOT cut apart, so there are no holes in the fabric. While they functionally hold the quilt layers together, they add a unique decorative element as well. Imagine using some embroidery, or metallic thread to really make them pop!

I’m not sure about the rest of you quilters out there, but I’m definitely going to try this on my next baby quilt, especially in soft, cuddly fabrics when I want minimal quilting anyway.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, the machine makes all the difference. On most Janome machines, buttonholes are done quickly, easily and beautifully with just the touch of a button. On the fabulous Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 Quilt Maker everything is done that way! 🙂



The 15000 Quilt Maker JANOME HORIZON QUILT MAKER MC 15000 has a whole category for buttonholes on the home screen. When I select that icon I have a selection of different styles of buttonholes and even have a setting to help me sew on the button!


Having the right foot for the job is sew essential to achieving great results, and the Buttonhole foot takes out all the guesswork. The front arm of the metal stabilizing plate slides up into a notch in the foot and the fabric gets sandwiched in between. This helps secure the fabric while still allowing it to move freely as the buttonhole is being stitched. Like almost all Janome feet, the buttonhole foot easily snaps on and off with a touch of a button.



As with the secret to any success, practice makes perfect! Always test your stitches on a scrap of fabric and read your instructional manual for step by step directions.

The simplicity of the Janome buttonhole foot is the key to what makes buttonholes so quick and easy to make. Simply drop in the size button you’d like to use in the gauge at the back of the buttonhole foot, and THAT’S the size “hole” your machine will stitch. Mystery solved!! NO math required!

If you have a button with a shank on it, and you need your buttonhole to be just a tiny bit longer to accommodate that extra thickness, you can adjust the silver knob at the back of the foot to either slightly shorten, or in this case, lengthen whatever style of buttonhole selected. Again, Janome takes the guesswork out of it for you!


One feature on my fabulous Janome Horizon MC15000 I dearly love is the “MEM” (#2) buttonhole, which records a memory of whatever length of buttonhole I want. I simply stitch my first buttonhole to my desired length, then the machine prompts me to either select the same size or choose another. This way I can ensure perfect, consistently stitched buttonholes all down the front of my shirt placket, or all over my quilt. 🙂  Again, let the machine do the work!


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One of the last steps in any project might be to sew on the button, so before you could even dig out that hand-sewing needle, your machine might possibly have the “button” to do it for you. On my fabulous Janome Horizon MC15000 Quilt Maker it is #14.

Basically, any machine which can do a zig-zag, can sew on a button – just be VERY careful and TEST to make sure the needle will clear the holes and not hit the sides of the button. Turn your flywheel BY HAND first! Ask me how I know this! 🙂


It’s awesome just how far machines have come over the years, and with the right machine, they really make tasks, which were once considered dreaded and mundane, super quick and easy to complete. They also allow you to expand your creativity and let you use something like a plain old buttonhole in a fun, playful new way.

Take a closer look at the stitches on your machine and try to think of new ways to use them. That’s part of the fun and joys of sewing! It’s YOUR’S to create!

About janomeman

As Janome Canada's National Consumer Education Manager, I'm SEW excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and all things creative with everyone at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Have an idea for a class, or to be put onto our mailing list, E-mail me at classes@janome-canada.com
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4 Responses to A New ‘Twist’ On Buttonholes

  1. I love doing Buttonholes. I make alot of my clothes. JUst make one practice and you are off the challenge. There needs to be classes offered in fabric shops on the different stitches on the Sewing machines. I like using the Stretch stitch for Top stitching it looks so profession. Just try, For the new sewers, it is the 2nd stitch one of the decorated ones. This stitch goes like a Back and Forth motion.


  2. Dawn Fielden says:

    What a concept! This would be so cute on a baby quilt.


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