3 Alternatives to Buttonholes – (Handsew Tutorial)

Last Updated on August 1, 2023

Discover some awesome alternatives to buttonholes: Hello everyone! Today, we will explore alternative methods for closures on costumes. Often, when my costumes are complex, I use various closure methods. So, today, here are three alternatives to buttonholes and explain why they can be useful.

Alternatives to Buttonholes
Image Source: Cat’s Costumery, Canva

Awesome 3 Alternatives to Buttonholes

Buttonholes can be time-consuming and intensive, especially if you have many of them to sew. Therefore, I’ll show you three faster alternatives that produce different effects.

These alternatives can be beneficial if you have buttons on your costume but want to avoid the hassle of buttonholes or if your sewing machine needs a buttonhole function.

Alternative 1: Button Loops

Button Loops
Image Source: Cat’s Costumery

Instead of creating buttonholes, you can opt for button loops. Button loops are loops of thread that attach to the edge of the fabric. They’re easy to make and add a decorative touch to your costume. To create a button loop, you’ll need a double thread and start by anchoring it with a couple of stitches.

Then, make small loops of thread and secure them with a buttonhole stitch. Button loops are quick to make and can be a great decorative option.

Materials Needed

  • Needle
  • Thread (buttonhole silk twist, embroidery thread, or heavy sewing thread)
  • Fabric
  • Scissors


  • Thread your needle with the chosen thread and knot the end.
  • Decide where you want the button loop to be and bring the needle up through the fabric from the wrong side to the right side.
  • Make a small loop with the thread and insert the needle back into the fabric near the loop’s starting point.
  • Take several small stitches to secure the loop, creating a chain of loops until the desired length is achieved.
  • Knot the thread at the end to secure the loop.
  • Repeat the process for each button loop needed.

Alternative 2: Chain Tacks

Chain Tacks
Image Source: Cat’s Costumery

Chain tacks are an alternative method that creates a textured and decorative look. It involves making chain stitches in a line to form a loop around the button.

Materials Needed

  • Needle
  • Double thread (silk thread, embroidery thread, or heavy sewing thread)
  • Fabric
  • Scissors


  • Thread your needle with double thread and knot the end.
  • Decide where you want the chain tack to be and bring the needle up through the fabric from the wrong side to the right side.
  • Take a small stitch and leave a long loop of thread.
  • With your thumb and finger, grab the needle thread and pull it through the loop, forming a knot and chain stitch.
  • Continue making chain stitches down the desired length.
  • When the chain tack is long enough, insert the needle back into the fabric and secure the thread with a few additional stitches.
  • Trim any excess thread.

This technique is quick and easy and consumes more thread than buttonholes. But the result can be quite charming, especially for a decorative closure.

Alternative 3: Ribbon or Tape Loops

Ribbon or Tape Loops
Image Source: Cat’s Costumery

Using ribbon, tape, or handmade finger loop braid can be another option for closures. Create loops with the ribbon or tape, sew them together, and then sew them onto your fabric.

Materials Needed

  • Ribbon, tape, or cord (cut to the desired length for your loop)
  • Needle
  • Thread (matching the fabric or a complementary color)
  • Scissors


  • Fold the ribbon or tape in half to form a loop, ensuring it’s long enough to go around the button.
  • Position the loop on the fabric where you want the closure and pin it in place.
  • Using a sewing machine or hand-sewing, stitch along the edges of the loop to secure it to the fabric.
  • For extra reinforcement, cover the raw edges of the loop with bias tape or apply a fray check.
  • Test the loop by inserting the button through it to ensure it functions properly.
  • This method can give a smooth and decorative finish to your costume.

FAQs on Alternatives to Buttonholes

Are button loops strong enough to hold my garment together?

Yes, button loops can be very secure if properly made. They provide a decorative and functional closure.

Are chain tacks difficult to create?

No, chain tacks are easy to make. They involve forming chain stitches and can be done quickly.

Can I use any ribbon or tape for ribbon loops?

Yes, you can use various types of ribbons or tapes, depending on your preference and the look you want to achieve.

How long does it take to sew a button loop?

Sewing a button loop can take around 6 minutes on average.

Do ribbon or tape loops require additional reinforcement?

Yes, to reduce bulk and prevent fraying, you can cover the raw edges with bias tape or fray check.

Can I use these alternatives for heavy fabrics like denim?

Yes, these alternatives can work with various fabrics, including heavy ones like denim. Just adjust the thread and needle accordingly.

Can I combine different closure methods on one costume?

Yes, you can combine different closure techniques to achieve a unique and stylish look.

Will these alternatives work for shirts and blouses with multiple buttons?

Absolutely! These alternatives are suitable for garments with multiple buttons, making them an excellent choice for intricate designs.

Can I use the same thread I use for regular sewing for button loops and chain tacks?

It’s recommended to use stronger threads like buttonhole silk twist, embroidery thread, or heavy sewing thread for better durability.

Can I use these methods for non-costume sewing projects?

Yes, these alternatives are not limited to costumes; you can apply them to other sewing projects as well.


Feel free to experiment and choose the closure technique that best suits your costume.

I hope these alternative closure methods have sparked your interest and inspired you to try new approaches in your costume-making projects. Remember, sewing should be fun and creative, so don’t be afraid to explore different techniques.

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