Learn how to make button loops 3 ways. Stylish and definitely a stunning effect on a wedding gown or at the back of a simple top, button loops have their place in the world of modern sewing. But they could cause you to feel somewhat ‘loopy’ if you have not practiced and perfected this technique.
There are three basic methods of completing these buttonhole styles –
- Fabric button loops
- Handstitched button loops
- Elastic button loops
Button loops vary in size enormously. Here button loops have been made larger to thread ribbon through. This is a common technique used in wedding gowns.
Fabric Button Loops
Start by making your own fabric loops. This is a bit of a fiddly process, but worth the effort for a tailored looking fabric loop effect. Best of all it will match perfectly.
Step 1 - CUTTING
Cut bias fabric strips on a 45o angle in matching fabric or contrast if you prefer. Cutting on the bias (diagonal) gives the loop some stretch to go over the buttons.
Cut the strips 1 ¾ inches (4.5cm) wide and at least 4 inches (10cm). If you are making several loops it is more practical to make one long strip of the loop to cut up according to your needs.
Step 2 - Fold
Fold the strip right sides together lengthwise ready to sew.
Pin the fabric and remember this is fabric cut on the bias so pulling too much will stretch the fabric and cause a rippled effect and not the smooth tailored effect required.
Step 3 - Stitch
Shorten the stitch length on your machine and start about ½ inch (12mm) from the end so you avoid having the fabric gobbled by your machine.
The seam allowance is 15mm or ⅝ inch but it is possible to adjust the seam allowance width according to the type of fabric and style of button loop required.
Start sewing at the required seam width and watch the folded side of the loop as you gently feed it through the machine. This will help you see that there are no unwanted wrinkles or ripples.
Leave a long thread at the end of the seam to allow for the pull-through process.
For really thin fabrics that may fray, do 2 rows of stitching very close to each other.
Step 4 - Trim
Trim the seam before pulling through or leave fabric on the side if you want a chunky button loop.
The edge from the seam will be encased in the loop when you pull it through.
Step 5 - Turning
Turn the fabric the right side out by using the large-eyed needle, a bodkin or a loop turner. They all work on the same principle as they pull the fabric through from the top of the loop and out at the end of the loop. This is the loop turning process.
Further Reading: How to Sew Spaghetti Straps (this will show you several ways to turn a narrow tube of fabric)
TURNING USING A NEEDLE
Using the needle threaded double with a strong thread, knot the end and sew through one side of the fabric. Insert the needle through the tube until you come out at the other end. Gently pull on the thread so the tube turns the right way out. Once you get the top started, the rest is quite easy.
TURNING USING A LOOP TURNER
The loop turner works slightly differently as the gadget is pushed through the loop and hooked onto the fabric at the top. The loop turner is then pulled down back to the beginning of the tube as the fabric follows the hook and pulls the loop from the inside out. It is important to keep the hook part of the loop turner closed so you keep a grip on the fabric as you turn it through.
TURNING USING A STRING
Before you sew the seam, stitch a piece of wool or string at one end. The string must be longer than the fabric so it pokes out at one end.
When the long seam has been sewn, trim the excess fabric and gently pull the string to turn the tube the right way out.
Step 6 - Press
Now you have your loop turned to the right side. Make sure the seam is at the edge pf the loop and press to flatten.
Now you are ready to set the loops in place.
step 7 - Marking
Mark the area that is to have looped buttonholes.
These fancy button loops are often used as a one-button closure on the top of a blouse or a skirt when a simple closure is required.
On the other end of the scale, and far more labor-intensive is the long line of buttonhole loops often seen gracing the back of a wedding dress. That will need serious planning and marking!
Measure the size of the loop in conjunction with the button it should loop over, and then measure the space to set the loops along the opening edge. Buttonhole loops can be seen on cuffs too.
Step 8 - Placement
Place the ready-made loops with the looped edge facing inwards on the opening on the right side of the fabric.
Pin with pins facing out horizontal to the fabric and the dress or tack a little stitch in to hold the loop secure.
Step 9 - Stitch the Seam
Put the prepared facing on top of the loops right side down. Then stitch at the correct stitch width to sew the garment, loops and facing all in one seam.
Remove any pins or temporary stitching. Then press open and fold under the facing. The loops will now be exposed at the edge of the facing ready to loop over their corresponding buttons.
Helpful Hints for Fabric Button Loops
- If there are many loops don’t cut the thin tube you have prepared. Keep it in one length and sew in a snake-like formation with some of the tube showing over the edge to be the loop and some resting in-between. The pieces that stick out will be the required loops.
- The length of loops could also be prepared beforehand on a strip of fabric that is stitched in between the facing and the garment in the same way as individual stitches but preparing the loops beforehand on a fabric strip or piece of ribbon, is easier than making an error on the real garment. Less time wasted on unpicking or messing up the beautiful garment you are making.
Hand Stitched Button Loops
Hand-stitched looped button loops are more delicate than the fabric variety and can be used in the same way as a decorative feature, or as a little utility closure on a simple opening.
Button loops that are hand-stitched will make a fine eye for the hook and eye closure in place of the steel eye attachment.
Step 1 - Foundation Loops
The foundation of the loop is made with between four to eight strands of thread sewn in the space where the loop will be used.
Sew the strands so they make a loop at the edge of the fabric leaving enough space for the loop to slip over the button or little pearl bead you may have chosen for added delicate design.
The threads can be pulled through the ready stitched facing as you push and pull a needle and thread at the right point on the garment to make the loop.
Step 2 - Blanket stitches
Using the same thread sew a series of blanket stitches along the strands of the loop. This gives the loop strength and a neat finish so it can slide over the button and hold fast while the garment is being worn.
Put the needle through the foundation stitches and before you pull the needle tight, put it back through the loop. Pull and you will see a series of stitches with a corded edge.
Hand sewn loops can be made of different types of thread including tapestry thread, embroidery floss or any other thicker quality thread. Try out a few variations to find the one that suits the garment and the opening and the button you have chosen.
Elastic Button Loops
Hair elastics and thin hat elastic make great loops as they are already covered and stretchy but not quite as elegant as a fabric loop made from the material used for the garment.
- Fold the elastic in half and machine baste it facing inwards from the edge. You may do this using a straight stitch or narrow zig-zag. Ensure it is well caught in and won't pull out under stress.
- Stitch the facing seam. Backstitch over the elastic for extra strength.
- Open the seam and press being careful not to press the iron on the elastic.
Button Loops - In Conclusion
There is no need to feel a bit ‘loopy’ at the thought of mastering button loops. Skip through the process as you hum the children’s rhyme:
‘Here we go loopy loo,
Here we go loopy li
Here we go loopy loo,
All on a Saturday night!
more button tutorials
- How to Sew a Button – 4 holes, 2 holes and shank
- How to Sew a Buttonhole | Automatic & Manual
- Hand Sewn Buttonhole
- How to Sew a Button on a Shirt
- How to Make Fabric Buttons
- Button Sizes
ALTERNATIVES TO BUTTONS
There are several alternatives to sewing buttons and button loops: