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Buttonhole stitch icon
Buttonhole stitch

  • Point Mexico Stitch
  • Point Noné Stitch
  • Close stitch

​As the name suggests, this stitch was originally used to reinforce the slots cut for buttons. It produces a neat outline of its own and can be worked with vertical threads or angled to fit a space. You can work the stitches more closely together for a dense appearance or slightly spread out for a less dense appearance.  It is very similar to blanket stitch - the only distinction is the spacing between the stitches.

Buttonhole stitch has been in use since at least the 16th century: in Italian cutwork, in English Jacobean embroidery and in German/Swiss ecclesiastical embroidery.  By the 19th century it was a notable feature of Broderie Anglaise in the UK and Rococo embroidery in northern Europe.

More widely, buttonhole is a popular stitch in parts of Asia: Pakko and Rebari work in Kutch, north-western India; Chikan work from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir embroidery from the Jammu and Kashmir region in the north-western India; in Hazarajat, Afghanistan.

Further west, it is used in Schwalm embroidery, Germany; on traditional aska takwas shirts in Nigeria and on traditional Huipiles (tunics) in Mexico; finally it is a particular feature of Wallachian whitework from the USA (distinct from the original Romanian Wallachian embroidery).

Buttonhole stitch is generously sponsored by Ursula Ackling

Method

1

Come up on the outside edge of the shape and take the needle down on the inside of the shape.

2

Assuming you are working left to right, hold the surface thread in a loop to the right, then bring the needle up on the outside edge, ensuring the needle is inside the loop.

3

Hold the needle in the fabric securely with your surface hand while you pull the thread from the underside to tighten the slack on the loop.

4

Pull the needle through and bring the thread up to the surface.

5

For the next stitch, take the needle down through the fabric on the inside edge of the shape, slightly to the right of the first stitch. Again, leave a loop to the right and bring the needle up on the outside edge within the loop.

6

Tighten the slack while holding the needle in the fabric, then pull the needle through and bring the thread to the surface. Repeat these stitches until the shape is filled.

7

The final stitch needs a holding stitch on the outside edge to secure the last loop.

Buttonhole stitch

Structure of stitch

References