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Buttonhole edging (variation) icon
Buttonhole edging (variation)

Buttonhole edging (variation) main image

This stitch uses buttonhole stitch to edge a piece of fabric or a cutwork motif.  In contrast with the entry for buttonhole edging, this version is worked over an edge which has already been cut.

Some sources conflate buttonhole stitch with blanket stitch when it is used to edge a fabric: the crucial difference is the spacing of the stitches, there is no space between the ‘legs’ of buttonhole stitches, whereas blanket stitch has a small gap.  This is due to practicalities: blanket stitch is normally used for more robust fabrics such as wool which doesn’t fray very readily, whereas buttonhole stitch is normally used for finer, more delicate, fabrics.

17th century garments such as coifs were routinely edged with buttonhole stitch.

Dedicated to Margot McIntyre


If this method is not suitable for your fabric, you can cut the fabric after you work the buttonhole stitch: see buttonhole edging. 
If your fabric is flimsy or likely to fray, you can cut two (or more) diagonal slits into the shape and fold the flaps back: see overcast edging for more information.
If you are working a functional buttonhole, cut a slit rather than a rectangular aperture in the fabric and consider using a heavier weight thread than normal sewing thread (often sold as ‘buttonhole’ thread) or use a double thread.


First, outline the shape using evenly worked tiny running stitches. Then cut away the fabric close to the running stitch outline.


Start working buttonhole stitches to cover both the running stitch and the raw edge.  The distinctive edging of the buttonhole stitch sits on the edge of the fabric.


Make sure to work the buttonhole stitches closely together.

Buttonhole edging (variation)

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques


  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.344-5
  • Mary Thomas, Jan Eaton, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (Revised Edition) (1989) , p.172