How to Prepare Your Garment

Marking Garments for Adding Buttonholes

Buttonholes can make or break your project. Well done, properly spaced buttonholes take garments to the next level, and we're here for that! You need to do a little legwork, but it's nothing you're not used to if you have sewn before. So here's our guide to preparing your garment for Fabulous Buttonholes.


Materials Needed:

  1. Your garment
  2. Ruler and/or measuring tape
  3. Contrasting basting thread for tailor's tacks
  4. Buttons (for sizing).
  5. Straight pins.
  6. Seam gauge or buttonhole gauge (optional).

Step 0: Is Your Garment Buttonhole-Ready?

Please check our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page and our Terms & Conditions page before proceeding. Please note the types of fabrics that we will make buttonholes on, and the ones that won't work.  

If in doubt, use our Swatch Service so you can see exactly how your buttonholes will look!

Step 1: Buttonhole Placement

Before marking anything on your garment, determine where you want your buttons/buttonholes. Consider the style and purpose of the garment, as well as the size and spacing of the buttons, along with any design considerations, like grouping buttons together for aesthetic reasons, uneven spacing that is intentional, etc. 

Decide if all the buttons are the same size, or if you want different button sizes in different places. For instance, you may want 1 inch buttons on the front of a jacket or coat, and 5/8 inch buttons on the cuffs and pockets.

Step 2: Measure and Mark

Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the distances between your buttons. In most cases, you will want them evenly spaced. Mark these measurements on your garment using a temporary marker, chalk, or tailor's tacks. And, as in carpentry, measure twice before you mark, just to be sure.

Marked Garment

Step 3: Determine Buttonhole Size

Lay the buttons you plan to use on the garment, aligning them with your markings. Measure the diameter of the button and add a little extra (1/8 to 1/4 inch) for ease of closure. This measurement will be the length of your buttonhole. Mark this length on the fabric for each button.  We can create buttonholes as small as 22mm (13/16 inch, good for 1/2- or 5/8 inch buttons) and as large as 30mm (1 1/4 inch, good for 1- or 1 1/8 inch buttons).

Step 4: Mark the Buttonhole Ends

For each buttonhole, mark the starting and ending points. These should be parallel and evenly spaced. Our buttonholes run perpendicular to the edge of your fabric, with the keyhole end closest to the edge. Please note that we do not make buttonholes parallel to the edge of your garment.

Step 5: Baste the Buttonhole Lines with Tailor's Tacks

Using a contrasting basting thread, connect the starting and ending points to create a straight line. This line will be the center of your buttonhole. Make sure the line is straight and perpendicular to your garment's edge. I like to use a small (6 inch), clear ruler to help with this. 

If you have a different method of thread-marking your buttonholes, please do so, and write an explanation in the notes section of the order form so we know what you want and where to place your buttonholes. And don't worry - if we have questions, we'll call you to be sure.

Important note: DO NOT USE PINS TO MARK YOUR GARMENT! There are two reasons for this. One, pins have a tendency to fall out during their journey to us. Second, and this is important, pins run the risk of damaging our machine, in which case we will bill you for repairs, which will be upwards of $300. We REALLY don't want to do that, so please, no pins.

Also, check to see that there are no stray pins in your garment, for the same reason.

Good Prep
Use Tailor's Tacks! 
Bad Prep
Don't use pins!

Step 6: Fill out the Order Form and mail us your garment

Fill out the Order Form, specifying the number of buttonholes requested, their locations and sizes, and anything else you want us to know about your request.

Carefully remove all pins, pack your garment in a waterproof bag, and mail it to:

Fabulous Buttonholes
PO Box 45, Pinehurst, MA 01821

Please do not send your garment to our office address, because we aren't always there to receive it, unlike the PO Box, which is in a secure location and is attended M-F, 9-5 and Saturday, 9-Noon. 

We strongly recommend insuring your shipment, both to and from our facility. 

Step 7: We Will Review and Confirm Your Order

When we receive your garment, we'll make sure that all the buttonholes are clearly marked and are consistent with the items in the Order Form. 

Our policy is to match the color of the buttonhole thread to the primary color of the fabric.  If you want a contrasting color thread, please indicate that on the Order Form and, if possible, send a sample of the thread to make our matching better.

We may contact you to verify the particulars and assure that we give you what you want.

Boom Baby!

After we check your garment and ensure that we can make the buttonholes to your satisfaction, we'll issue you an invoice for the buttonhole service and return shipping. Upon receipt of payment, we will complete the job within 5 days and return your garment to you. In all likelihood, we'll turn it around faster than that, but this is to set expectations. 

You worked hard on your garment. It deserves Fabulous Buttonholes!