V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along: Buttonholes

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.It’s the home stretch of our Vogue Patterns V1467 pea coat process. Last week my co-host Rachel went over the hem and other finishing touches on her blog; today I’ll be talking about buttonholes on your pea coat.

Though there are 12 buttons on your jacket—10 on the front and two on the back—you only need to stitch nine buttonholes. That’s five on the right front, two on the inside left front, and two on the left back belt.

Use piece 18 to mark your buttonholes on the right front:

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Mark where you’ll be sewing-on the buttons to the right front (indicated on the tissue by Xs).

You also need to mark the two buttonholes on the inside left jacket front. Piece 18 doesn’t indicate which are the left front buttonholes, but it’s the first and fourth buttonholes you need to mark here. Don’t forget to mark the left back belt too.

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Now you’re ready to sew buttonholes! Use your favorite method for making buttonholes: hand-done, bound, keyhole, etc. If you live in New York City like me, you head to Jonathan Embroidery on W. 38th Street in the Garment District  and have them make your buttonholes for you on their industrial machines. They’re fast and reasonable: Nine buttonholes for $10! I love this place so much.

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Or. sew your own buttonholes. You’ve already stabilized your jacket front in step 1, so you’re good to go. You can either attach the buttonhole foot that came with your machine and follow the directions, or you can stitch them without a special foot. That’s how Tatyana, our head dressmaker and sewer extraordinaire, prefers to do it. Watch her sew a buttonhole in this quick video we shot on our iPhone:

First, set the stitch width to 2.0 and the length to 0.6. Stitch the first long side, stopping with your needle down and on the right. Lift your foot and pivot your fabric 190 degrees.

Change your width to 4.0/5.0 and bar-tack for about 4-5 stitches. Stop again with the needle on the right. Change your width back to 2.0 and stitch the other long side. Stop with the needle down and on the right. Change back to 4.0/5.0, stitch 4-5 bar-tack stitches. Last, set the width to very narrow and stitch a couple of stitches in place to secure the thread. That’s it!

Final step: Adding your buttons. The buttons are a focal point of this jacket, so I think it’s worth spending a few extra dollars here. I got my silver crest shank buttons at M&J Trim, also in the garment district here in NYC. Pricey, but I love how they look against the periwinkle wool of the jacket.

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along, on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

The pattern envelope tells you to buy twelve 7/8″ buttons and two 3/4″ buttons; the two smaller buttons go on the inside of the right front facing, so you can use inexpensive, flat buttons here.

Tip: To make sewing on buttons go faster—because seriously, who like to sew on buttons—sew with four strands of thread at the same time. Cut a length of thread that’s about two to three times longer than you usually sew with, then double it. Thread your needle with two threads, pull through and then double again and knot. Now you’re sewing with four strands and you’ve reduced the time to sew on a single button.

Next week: Rachel and I reveal our finished pea coats! How are you coming on yours? Don’t forget to use the hashtag #V1467sewalong.

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

15 comments
  1. Great tip sewing on buttons with 4 strands of thread!

  2. Beautiful coat but very few of us have access to a professional buttonhole maker. Might have been better to have made the kind that the rest of us have to live with.

    1. Hi Annie! Many local drycleaners will do buttonholes for you as part of their tailoring services.

      But I do actually sew my own buttonholes all the time. I make sure the area is amply supported with interfacing, I attach my buttonhole foot, and then I stitch away and hope for the best. I’ll check with our dressmaking department to see if they have any tips I can include here. —Meg

  3. Those professional buttonholes are magnificient and will look for a local resource. In the meantime, will continue to choose alternate closures and even alter the pattern to include an in-seam buttonhole.

  4. Meg, this is looking magnificent. I miss seeing your sewing!

    1. Aww, thanks! I’ll try to be better about posting what I make.

  5. I haven’t been making this coat, but I follow and pick up tips and just like to say, I love the colour of this coat.

  6. Hi readers! I tried the four-strand tip for sewing on buttons and it worked LIKE A CHARM. Literally cut my sewing time in half. Try it!

  7. Rachel says those of you in the UK can have buttonholes stitched here: http://www.dmbuttons.co.uk/

  8. Those are beautiful buttonholes and buttons. I have my buttonholes all marked and several practice ones made. I tried to get myself to sew them last night but couldn’t get up the courage. I am going to do it tonight. I think I am hesitant because I really love how this has turned out and I don’t want the buttonholes to be the fail portion. Thanks for the tip on 4 threads. Also, I am with Oona, I miss seeing your sewing.

    1. Thanks, Lori! I hear you on being scared about the buttonholes. Even when I take my garments to the pros, I still get all nervous. Good luck and fingers crossed for you!

  9. Love those buttons – perfect!

  10. Gorgeous! …..awesome job ! So professional looking…

  11. If the idea of doing buttonholes frightens you then get out your machine instructions and follow it step by step on exactly the same layers of fabric as your garment BUT IN DAYLIGHT. If you wear glasses like I do then make sure they are clean as well. Nothing beats being able to see what you are doing 🙂
    PS love the jacket – so stylish.

  12. Beautiful coat. Two tips: Louise Cutting suggests wrapping thin water-soluble stabilizer around the garment so it covers the back and front of the area of the buttonhole. Avoids that bunching as the attachment gets close to the thicker outer seams.

    And using a thread conditioner such as Thread Heaven (and yes, it does make a difference to iron over the threads after you apply it) means no tangling and knotting as you are sewing on buttons.

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