What you need to know about sewing the perfect buttonhole by machine

Welcome back. I’m super excited to be guest blogging this week. I’ve been playing around with the Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q and the more I play with it, the more fun I’m having and the more I’m discovering.

This week, I’ve got some amazing tips for a variety of topics, and we end up the week with an awesome project.

Let’s get started with making great-looking buttonholes!

Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q

I know as quilters that we don’t often have the need to make buttonholes or sew on buttons. But you never know when you want to add buttons to a closure on a cushion cover, make eyelets for some project or, GASP – even consider sewing a garment.

I used to sew many of my clothes years ago. Then I stopped and lately, well that urge is coming back. Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are. But I’m excited about it. There will be no garment sewing this week, but something to watch for?

There are several different styles of buttonholes on the Sapphire 965Q. In addition, there are two different styles of eyelets. All these stitches are located in the A – Utility Stitches menu.

A – Utility Stitches menu showcasing the various buttonhole options

One of the super features on the Sapphire 965Q is the Exclusive SEWING ADVISOR. You can check out one of my previous posts, and scroll down near the end of the post for more information. In short, I choose the weight and type of fabric that I’m using, then select the technique that I’m going to do, in this case, a buttonhole. And, guess what? The Sapphire 965Q selects the best style of buttonhole for my fabric selections. Isn’t that just the best? I swear it’s like having an instructor sit beside you.

Menu selections for the Exclusive SEWING ADVISOR

A description of all the buttonhole types is listed in the User’s Guide which you can easily download to your tablet or you can use the paper copy. I like the tablet version myself. No danger of misplacing the guide, it’s easy to flip through the pages and well, I’m really trying to be more technically savvy and I’m liking it.

Description of the buttonhole styles on the electronic version of the User’s Guide

In the photo below, you can see that I’ve selected leather as my fabric, and the style of buttonhole is very different from what I would stitch on a medium woven fabric.

What I like is that all the information, including a diagram of the buttonhole, appears on the Interactive Color Touch Screen. There’s no guessing.

Buttonhole for leather has been automatically selected

The Sensor One-Step Buttonhole Foot

I don’t know about you, but I remember making buttonholes on a sewing machine that required inserting a metal cam into the buttonhole attachment which was a huge clunky thing. It worked, but you had few options for the style and size of the buttonholes. You took what you could get and heaven forbid if you lost one of the metal cams.

No worries about the new technology today. I start by attaching the Sensor One-Step Buttonhole Foot. It snaps onto the press foot ankle like any of the other feet, but with one added step. There’s a small plug which needs to be inserted into a socket just above the needle.

This can be a bit tricky, but I found that tipping the sewing machine slightly on its side makes it very easy to find the socket.

After the foot is plugged in, select the appropriate options on the Interactive Interactive Color Touch Screen and you’re ready to make buttonholes.

The Sensor One-Step Buttonhole Foot

You’ll notice on this foot, that there’s a little wheel. There’s a white spot on that wheel. It’s very important to line up the white spot on the wheel with that little white line. This ensures that the buttonhole will be the selected size. The Sapphire 965Q reminds you to line up the spots if you haven’t already done so. I like that as I would very likely forget and then have a wonky buttonhole.

Match up the white spot with the white marking line

There’s a handy measuring guide in millimeters (mm) on the front of the sewing machine. I place my button on the measuring guide to determine the size of the desired buttonhole.

Measuring guide for the buttonhole size

See how much information I get on the Interactive Color Touch Screen:

  • which presser foot to use, in this case the Sensor One-Step Buttonhole Foot
  • my fabric weight – woven medium
  • indicates that the project needs to be stabilized
  • the needle size – 80
  • the preset tension – 2.4
  • the stitch width – 5.0
  • the length of the buttonhole – 14 mm

And, I can see a picture of what the actual buttonhole will look like. That’s a lot of very useful information and there is less chance of making a mistake.

Now here’s something that I never noticed before. See that arrow?  That’s the direction the buttonhole will stitch in. Let’s just hang onto that thought for a moment.

Information about the buttonhole that I selected to stitch

In the photo below, I’ve lengthened the buttonhole to 18 mm, which is the size indicated by placing my button on the measuring guide.

Buttonhole has been lengthened to 18 mm

In the photo below, you can see why you ALWAYS do a test buttonhole. As I mentioned, I never noticed that arrow on the screen before. I set my fabric under the needle. I pressed START and of course, the sewing machine is programmed to stitch backward first and as a result, I almost started my buttonhole off the edge of the fabric.

Lesson learned: watch the screen. All that information is there for a reason! However, it’s always a good idea to do a test stitch-out prior to putting your project under the needle. Just to make sure everything is exactly like you want it to be and it only takes a few seconds to stitch out that test buttonhole.

Make sure you determined which direction you want those buttonholes to go. Will they be horizontal or vertical in your project? I’m sure that someone has written strict guidelines on how they should go, but we can always make up our own rules.

Mark a line on your fabric so you know exactly where and what direction to place your fabric to get the correct position on the buttonholes.

I also highly encourage you to add interfacing to the underside of the buttonhole. They take a lot of abuse and need the interfacing to stabilize the buttonhole and also to maintain the shape of the buttonhole.

Good thing this was my test buttonhole!

The second buttonhole went much smoother and looks awesome.

Beautifully formed buttonhole

Making buttonholes is another instance where you can use the START/STOP function on the Function panel. You can use the foot pedal, but the Sapphire 965Q is programmed to start and stop at the end of the buttonhole sequence. The Needle Stop Up/Down function, the FIX, and the STOP functions automatically engage when the buttonhole feature is selected. All you do is position the fabric and hit START/STOP.  If you want, you can reduce the speed.

The Function panel

In the sample below, I made a couple more buttonholes. I played with the width of the buttonholes. I used a 40 weight thread which makes a more solid looking buttonhole. And I made an eyelet as well.

There are so many options when it comes to making buttonholes, you’re sure to find something to suit your project.

Samples of buttonholes and an eyelet

Sewing on a button

I’m sure that you all know that you can make buttonholes with the sewing machine. But do you know that you can sew on buttons as well?  You can’t sew on a button that has a shank, but you can add a shank if you’re using thick fabrics.

The Sapphire 965Q comes with a multipurpose tool, also called a button reed, that provides height underneath your button. Select the appropriate stitch from the A  – Utility Stitches menu. Set the button where it needs to be sewn, and insert the handy tool underneath the button. Carefully choose the width between the holes, and stitch. I can’t seem to break the habit of manually turning the flywheel to do this task. I have visions of button bits flying everywhere. I’m such a wimp!

Sewing on a button using the button reed

The thread shank is quite long

If I don’t want the shank to be quite as long, I can use the opposite side of the multipurpose tool. The button will sit closer to the project and the resulting shank will not be as long.

The multipurpose tool or button reed

When you use the multipurpose tool, the button is just sitting on the surface of the tool. You can use the Button Foot with Placement Tool to secure the button in place if you prefer.

There’s a small lever on the side of the Button Foot that will adjust the height of the thread shank. Even though I’ve had this foot for a while, and used it to sew on buttons, I never knew about this little lever until I started messing around with it.

Low thread shank position on the Button Foot

Longer thread shank position on the Button Foot

And in the following photo, you can see the button is secured by the Button Foot to prevent it from moving.

Button held in place by the Button Foot

And there you have it. A super-easy way to make buttonholes and then to sew the buttons on. There are so many features on the Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q that make both jobs super easy. Not only that but there are many options so you’re sure to get the desired results.

OK, if for no other reason than to try making buttonholes, I should make a shirt!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow as I’m experimenting with some more features. It’s going to be fun!

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: A clever way to raw-edge applique using dimensional stitches

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Michelle Gordon-Jones August 10, 2019 - 5:54 pm
Elaine, you saved my sanity! I have been searching for clear instructions on how to use sensor buttonhole foot. I checked the Viking site (I have a Designer SE) then YouTube without success. So I decided to google the statement creating my confusion "...Line up the white range on the side of the wheel with the white marking line on the foot..." as this was my first time using the foot and I had no idea what it meant. Your blog appeared with the photo of the white range on the wheel itself and Voila! All is right with the world. Thank you so very much. Michelle
Elaine Theriault August 21, 2019 - 7:08 am
Michelle - you are so welcome! Glad we could help out. Don't forget to check out some of the other tutorials that I've written for Husqvarna Viking. They won't be specifically for the Designer SE, but much of the information can be used across the Husqvarna Viking family of machines. Elaine
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