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Sewing On A Button – Part 1

Sewing on a button is something that most of us learned a long time ago as children. The questions is, did you learn how to make the perfect buttonhole to go along with it? Making buttonholes is not something I did a lot of in my years of sewing – in fact, I haven’t made a buttonhole since grade 9 Home Economics class. Just a few years ago… Today I’m going to test out the buttonhole foot and feature on the Pfaff Passport 2.0 just to see how easy it is to make a perfect buttonhole. Everyone keeps telling me that they are very easy.

Remember last month, when my sister was here visiting and she ripped apart a comforter so that we could repurpose it to be a duvet cover? I finished off the seam edges on the comforter turned duvet cover and added some topstitching along the bottom to secure the folded over edge where I want to add buttonholes and will be sewing on a button or two. The buttons will act as the bottom closure rather than a zipper.

A Pleasant Surprise

When I was setting up the machine to get ready for another day of great sewing I laid the extension table on my sewing table upside down. As I was picking it up off the table to attach to the machine I went, “oh look it has legs”.


Bottom side of extension table
Bottom side of extension table


Obviously last month I didn’t look at the bottom side of the table. I had also found that the machine with the table in place wasn’t that stable and if I accidentally leaned on the table everything would tip in one direction.

Well, I now solved that problem by putting the feet on the table down – very clever that they retract for storage – and very clever that I finally looked at the bottom of the table so I can have full benefit of what the table has to offer.

Equipment Required

In order to get started with the buttonholes I require the buttons, as the size of the button determines the size of the buttonhole. After searching through my multiple cans of buttons I finally found enough of one kind that will look good on the green fabric.

The buttons for the duvet cover
The buttons for the duvet cover


The most important piece of equipment needed is the 5B or buttonhole foot and it looks like this. Yes, it’s that funny looking foot.

The buttonhole foot for the Pfaff Passport 2.0
The buttonhole foot for the Pfaff Passport 2.0


Oh, and don’t forget thread to match the fabric or maybe you want it to stand out and contrast with the fabric. It all depends on what you’re making and the look that you want to achieve. I went with basic white thread in a 100% cotton on top and in the bobbin.

Setting Up For the Perfect Buttonhole

The button rests in the pullout at the back of the foot which is called the button holder plate. Once the button is in place push the holder back towards the front of the foot to make sure that the button is secure and will not move. The amount of length that the plate is out from the end of the foot determines the length of the buttonhole needed.

Button holder plate pulled out at back of foot
Button holder plate pulled out at back of foot


I placed a blue button in the holder to make it easier to see where the buttons are placed at the back on the plate.

Button in button holder plate
Button in button holder plate


The little metal bar that attaches the foot to the machine goes towards the front of the machine – most of the foot is to the back of the machine. Yes, the sewing will be done towards the back of the fabric.

There is a little lever that sits in behind the needle threader with an arrow and a picture of a buttonhole. This is crucial to make the buttonhole with – in fact the machine will beep at you if it’s not engaged.

Foot on machine and buttonhole lever not engaged
Foot on machine and buttonhole lever not engaged


To engage, pull the lever straight down.

Lowering the buttonhole lever into position
Lowering the buttonhole lever into position


Once it’s down all the way it will sit behind a plastic tab that sticks out on the side of the foot.

Buttonhole lever engaged
Buttonhole lever engaged


Program which type of buttonhole is required using the key pad on the machine face. There are 4 different types of buttonholes that can be made on the Pfaff Passport 2.0 and each one is specific for a type of fabric or garment. I went for #15 which is the standard buttonhole and used the default settings. All of the different buttonhole stitches can be found in the sewing machine manual as are the full instructions for making a buttonhole and sewing on a button.

Sewing the Buttonhole

Once everything is all set up it’s really very simple, just press down the foot control and the machine does everything else. You may need to keep your hands lightly on the fabric to keep everything in line. Also if the fabric is a single layer then a stabilizer is recommended to ensure a nice even and secure stitch. I used a double layer of fabric so I didn’t use a stabilizer but I could have.

A couple of times when I was making the buttonholes the machine didn’t make a big enough buttonhole and I couldn’t figure out why. After ripping out the stitching and doing this a few more times it finally dawned on me that my finger was getting in the way of the all important buttonhole lever and once the lever touched my finger it thought that it had reached the second plastic outcrop on the side of the foot that told the machine it had gone far enough. After that I kept my fingers away from the foot and I had perfect buttonholes every time.

On my test piece I used a piece of stabilizer. Always good to do a test piece before getting going on the real piece. As I said before ripping out buttonhole stitching is not much fun – about as much fun as ripping out free motion quilting.

A perfect buttonhole
A perfect buttonhole


Once the buttonhole is complete clip open the material between the stitching with a sharp pair of scissors.

Making the perfect buttonholes has proved to be quite easy and a lot of fun. Tomorrow I’ll be sewing on the buttons with the Passport 2.0 to complete my upcycled project.

Happy Quilting!

Jennifer runs Quilts by Jen, a fantastic educational resource for quilters with many great free tutorials ranging from how to choose fabrics, understanding the value of fabrics, pressing, building Bargello runs, pinning, binding, sandwiching, couching, quilting, and much more. Check them out!


  1. Robert G.

    Yay! Thanks for this, and the pictures!

    My wife was trying to figure out how to use the buttonhole feature. Turns out the trick is that darn “buttonhole lever” (we thought the instructions were referring to the presser foot).

    Saved us from a frustrating afternoon and beating the Pfaff into small pieces. 🙂

    • Yes! So happy we were able to help! Especially that you didn’t have to beat the machine into small pieces!…

  2. Michelle

    Thank you sooooo much for this helpful tutorial! I wasted a lot of time not understanding what the manual meant by “button lever.” Thank you!

    • Carla A. Canonico

      You’re so very welcomed Michelle!!

  3. DJ

    Thank you so much! I really needed a good tutorial this morning for buttonholes with my Passport 2.0. The manual wasn’t too helpful. Pictures and description are perfect!

    • Excellent DJ – glad my tutorial was able to help you with the buttonholes.

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