Super Sized Buttonholes

We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips

Sometimes things happen for a reason. Usually I do not say “yes” to random requests for sewing needed by customers who walk into our store. I must have had a weak moment when Bob walked into Heirloom Creations.

“Can you sew a 5” buttonhole?” he asked. I first wondered if this was a quiz question or a request. Come to find out it was a request for two 5” buttonholes to be sewn in a cover he uses on his car. It needed to fit over the mirrors…(?) Now I was getting curious! So I said yes.

So he brings in a very soft, yet super stretchy minkee-like fabric. Why not?

I knew I would need to use stabilizer on the back to keep the buttonhole from stretching while it was being stitched and a water soluble stabilizer on the top so the satin stitching would not get lost in the nap of the fabric. So far so good.


Most of us are used to using the programmable buttonhole foot on our sewing machines, but when longer buttonholes are needed, a manual buttonhole setting is required. First, attach the manual buttonhole foot. This foot will allow a 36” buttonhole if needed! So a “small”  5” buttonhole would be a cinch! A manual buttonhole foot has two grooves on the underneath side of the foot to help guide st raight rows of satin stitching. I also increased the width of the zigzag stitching since the fabric was thicker.

With the buttonhole placement marked, I pinned the tear-away stabilizer in place behind the soon-to-be-stitched buttonhole and pinned a small piece of water soluble stabilizer to the top, and stitched! I only needed to keep the weight of the large piece of fabric from dragging while the machine was sewing.

(If you do not have a manual style buttonhole, select a zigzag stitch and move it to the far left needle position and stitch the left leg of the buttonhole. Next adjust the zigzag stitch to its widest width to create a bar tack stitch at the top and bottom areas. Repeat with a second long zig zag stitch in the right needle position. If possible, stitch BOTH buttonhole sides from top to bottom.)


Once the buttonholes were stitched I carefully cut them open with a pair of super sharp Gingher scissors. The whole time, I just blocked out of my mind the fact that I was sewing and cutting open something on a fabric that was probably not inexpensive to purchase!

Upon meeting up with Bob, I asked to see how it would be used. He was very excited to show me his fully restored Triumph TR3. He needed this special cover to lay over the edge of the hood when he worked on the engine. As you can see it really did need those 5” buttonholes to slip over the mirrors!



I said at the beginning that some things just happen for a reason… After seeing his hot little convertible, I realized that I recognized his vanity license plate from my neighborhood. Bob lives about 6 houses down from Steve and me. Of all days to say yes to a sewing project…this one allowed us to meet another neighbor!