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Woman sewing buttonhole on yellow fabric

Sarah’s diary - how to use a one-step buttonhole

"Buttonholes, are they something you dread? I’ve always been quite scared of sewing them on a machine and have even considered learning to sew them by hand instead (but who’s got time for that?)."

My old machine had a very complicated way of sewing buttonholes, which is why they’re not something you’ll see on things I’ve sewn before. I’ve tried them, but I usually get so exasperated I move on to something else.

So, imagine my delight when I found out the Brother’s new A-Series machines all come with a one-step buttonhole. The one-step buttonhole foot looks quite intimidating when you first take it out of the box – it’s long and has a jagged edge. But it couldn’t be simpler to use.

I know I write quite a lot about practising on scraps before migrating to an actual project, but the one-step buttonhole is the foot I’ve had to practice least with. And every time I use it my buttonholes come out straight, perfectly sewn and more importantly, in the right place!

You will need:

  • The buttons you want to use for you project
  • The one-step buttonhole foot (foot A that comes with your sewing machine)
  • Your garment or project
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine – we used the Brother Innov-is A80

Step 1

With tailor’s chalk or water-soluble pen mark on your fabric where your buttonhole is to be placed.

Step 2

Place your button in the back half of the automatic buttonhole foot. Close the foot over the button so it fits in tightly.

Grey button in Brother one-step buttonhole presser foot

Step 3

Change your machine presser foot to the one-step buttonhole foot, with the button still in the back of the foot mechanism. Remember to follow your machine’s instructions. You will need to pull down the buttonhole lever, which is located to the left of your needle shaft.
Hand on presser foot lever on Brother sewing machine

Step 4

Choose the buttonhole stitch you wish to sew.
Hand on jog dial choosing sewing stitch on sewing machine

Step 5

Drop your needle and sew your buttonhole using a moderate and steady speed. The one-step buttonhole will automatically create the correct size buttonhole for your button.

Step 6

Using a seam ripper open the buttonhole by gently sliding in from each side to the centre.

Tip: be careful of using too much force when sliding your seam ripper as you can easily slip, cutting through the sides of your buttonhole and potentially ruining your garment.

Hand holding seam ripper opening buttonhole yellow fabric

Step 7

You can now move on to the other buttonholes you wish to sew.

What did I learn?

  • Some of the A-series machines (and other Brother sewing and embroidery machines) have more than one style of buttonhole stitch. I’ve tried all of them and keep them on a scrap swatch in my sewing room so I know what they look like and which one will be right for the project I’m making.

  • Make sure you remember to pull down the little lever located above your needle when you put the one-step buttonhole presser foot on, this ‘tells’ the machine you’re using the one-step buttonhole.

  • Be really careful when using your seam ripper to open your buttonhole. They’re really sharp and I’ve ruined quite a few buttonholes and sadly, a skirt I was making (not to mention cutting my finger badly too!). Go slowly from the outside of the buttonhole to the middle, rather than the middle out. Stop in the middle and use your seam ripper to open the other side of the buttonhole to the middle.


Which presser foot should I learn to use next?

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