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Buttonhole wheels icon
Buttonhole wheels

  • Buttonhole stitch wheel
  • Wheel stitch
Buttonhole wheels main image

This stitch uses a standard buttonhole stitch to form a circle; each stitch is taken down into the same hole in the centre. The stitch tension creates a small central hole. The hole could be off-centre for more informal look.

Buttonhole wheels have similarities with buttonhole couronnes but there are two main differences: firstly, couronnes are worked independently from the fabric and then applied and so will normally be slightly raised whereas wheels are stitched directly into the fabric; secondly, the central hole is normally smaller for a wheel than a couronne.

Buttonhole wheels were evidently in use during the 17th century as they feature on a fragment found in Egypt which has been radiocarbon dated to 1599, +/- 37 years.  The piece has several separate pieces of fabric joined together with scattered buttonhole wheels.  It is currently held by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Buttonhole wheels is generously sponsored by Martine Carlier


Mark a circle on the fabric and work anticlockwise.


Bring the needle up on the edge of the circle, and then take the needle down in the centre.


Leaving a loop at the front of the fabric, bring the needle up on the edge fairly close to the starting point, inside the loop.


Pull the thread to make a buttonhole stitch. Take the needle down again at the same hole in the centre.


Come up on the edge again to work another buttonhole stitch.


Continue working buttonhole stitches around the circle anticlockwise.


For the last stitch, pass the needle under the first buttonhole stitch and then take the needle down at the centre to complete the circle.


A complete buttonhole wheel

Buttonhole wheels

Embroidery Techniques


  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.26
  • Betty Barnden, The Embroidery Stitch Bible (2003) , p.66
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012) , p.161
  • '17th century patchwork fragment', Ashmolean Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 24 August 2023)