How to Sew Buttonholes on Stretch Fabric?

Last Updated on July 31, 2023

Discover how to sew buttonholes on stretch fabric: Sewing buttonholes on stretchy fabrics can be daunting, as it’s easy to end up with stretched-out or wavy buttonholes. However, with the right techniques and tools, you can achieve perfect and flat buttonholes on stretch fabrics.

How to Sew Buttonholes on Stretch Fabric
Image Source: Professor Pincushion, Canva

How to sew buttonholes on stretch fabric?

So, How do you sew a buttonhole in stretch fabric? Here, we’ll cover two methods to sew buttonholes on stretch fabric: a stabilizer or a gimp thread. Please note that we will assume you have a basic understanding of using a sewing machine and a buttonhole foot.

Method 1: Stabilizer Method

Stabilizer Method
Image Source: Professor Pincushion
  • Choose the Right Stabilizer or Interfacing: You have two options for stabilizing your stretch fabric: knit interfacing or lightweight tear-away stabilizer. If using interfacing, opt for one specifically designed for knit fabrics, like a tricot fusible interfacing. This will maintain some stretch in the fabric and avoid stiffening it. Alternatively, you can use a lightweight tear-away stabilizer if you’re worried about the backside of the buttonhole being visible.
  • Apply the Stabilizer or Interfacing: Place the stabilizer or interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric where you intend to sew the buttonhole. Make sure it is securely attached so it won’t shift during sewing.
  • Use Appropriate Thread and Needle: While sewing the buttonholes, use an all-purpose thread. However, switch to a ballpoint needle in your sewing machine since you’re working with knit fabric. The ballpoint needle will prevent the needle from snagging and potentially damaging the stretchy fibers.
  • Select the Right Buttonhole Option: Depending on your sewing machine, choose the buttonhole option that works best for your project. If your machine offers different buttonhole styles, go for the options that are less thread-dense, as they work better with knits.
  • Sew the Buttonhole: Install the buttonhole foot on your sewing machine and set it up as you normally would for sewing buttonholes. Before sewing on your fabric, always test scrap fabric to ensure the buttonhole size is correct and that everything looks good.
  • Don’t Stretch the Fabric: Avoid stretching the fabric yourself when sewing the buttonholes on stretchy fabric. Allow the sewing machine to pull the fabric through naturally and gently guide it.
  • Finish Up: Once the buttonhole is sewn, carefully tear it away from the fabric if you use a tear-away stabilizer. Your buttonholes should now be flat and well-formed, without any visible stretching or waviness.

Method 2: Gimp Thread Method (Corded Buttonhole)

Gimp Thread Method
Image Source: Professor Pincushion
  • Choose the Right Thread: For this method, you’ll need two types of thread: an all-purpose thread for sewing the buttonhole and a thicker thread like button & craft or heavy duty, which will serve as the gimp thread to provide stabilization.
  • Prepare the Buttonhole Foot: Install the buttonhole foot on your sewing machine. On the backside of the buttonhole foot, you’ll find a notch. Cut about 10 inches of the thicker thread (gimp thread) and place the center of the thread over the notch.
  • Thread the Gimp Thread: While holding both ends of the gimp thread, run it under the buttonhole foot to the front. Ensure that both strands of the gimp thread are running along the center but are not on top of each other.
  • Secure the Gimp Thread: At the front of the buttonhole foot, slip each end of the gimp thread into the notches, keeping the threads on their respective sides and untangled. Bring the ends up and wrap them over the top of the notch to hold them securely in place.
  • Sew the Buttonhole: Sew the buttonhole as you normally would, making sure not to stretch the fabric. As you sew, the sides of the buttonhole will stitch over the gimp threads, providing stability and definition.
  • Remove the Fabric: Once the buttonhole is complete, carefully remove the fabric, moving backward first to make it easier to take the gimp thread off the notch on the back of the foot.
  • Finish the Gimp Thread: Gently pull on the ends of the gimp thread to bring the looped portion flush with the end of the buttonhole. Now, two loose thread ends will be on one side of the buttonhole.
  • Lock the Gimp Thread: Working one side at a time, put one end of the gimp thread on a hand needle and insert it through the fabric as close to the buttonhole as possible, bringing the thread to the wrong side of the fabric. Run the gimp thread under some buttonhole thread a few times to lock it in place and trim any excess thread off. Repeat the same process with the other end of the gimp thread.
  • Final Result: You should now have a beautifully defined buttonhole with the gimp thread providing extra stability.

Video: Sewing Buttonholes on Stretchy Fabrics Made Easy


Remember to practice fabric scraps first to get comfortable with these methods before working on your final project. With these techniques, you’ll be able to sew perfect and flat buttonholes on stretch fabrics without any anxiety. Happy sewing!

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