Hi. I haven't been sewing for long so please bare with me.  I am working on a waistcoat made from seersucker and I need help with buttonholes.  I have most of the garment constructed but when I try to do the buttonhole the loose knit just pulls through.  I'm sewing through both the seer and the cotton lining but it keeps ending up frazzled and not buttonholey (is that a word?).  I have sewed buttonholes on other fabrics but this is the first time I've had this problem.  I am doing it by hand and don't have access to a machine that can do it.  Fortunately I have several scraps of the stuff laying around to practice on before I attempt the real McCoy.  What should I do?  Is there some secret I'm just not in the loop with?  Please help.  It took 2 days for me to make the vest and I've spent a week on the holes and not made any progress.  

Thank you for your time, John

Hi John,

It sounds like you need some interfacing! Fusible interfacing gets ironed on to the inside of the fabric and helps to stabilize your buttonholes. Almost every garment that has buttonholes has some interfacing tucked away inside.

You can get interfacing at your local fabric store; usually available as fusible or sew-in (you want fusible), woven or non-woven (you probably want woven), and lightweight or medium weight (definitely lightweight). You won't need much, just enough to cover the buttonhole area.

Something else that you might want to consider is the sharpness of the needle that you're using. If it's an old needle, an overly thick needle or a flimsy dollar store needle, that could be part of the reason why your fabric is getting all messy.

And lastly, when you're at the fabric store buying your interfacing, ask about anti-fray liquid. A couple drops on your buttonholes before you cut them open will keep the loose threads in place, and you won't have messy fraying buttonholes!

Happy sewing!



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Amie Scott


I can answer many questions related to craft sewing, fashion design, pattern drafting, clothing alterations, clothing repair, and simple home decor sewing projects. I can not answer question about machine repair/maintenance, quilting, knitting, embroidery or needlepoint.


I have been designing and sewing clothing and accessories professionally since 2003. I have two years of experience teaching basic machine sewing classes for adults. I have experience altering clothing and drafting sewing patterns for women's wear. Currently I own a retail shop with a sewing studio, where I design and produce my line of women's wear, and also offer custom sewing to clients.

Although I'm mostly self taught, I have taken some advanced online pattern drafting and clothing alterations classes. Of course, nothing beats actual hands on work, and I have over ten years of experience in professional sewing and fashion design.

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