How to work Buttonhole Stitch

buttonhole stitch sample 9Buttonhole stitch or blanket stitch as many people call it, is actually the foundation stitch for many varieties of buttonhole. This stitch is often used along the edge of projects – often blankets hence the name. Never underestimate a stitch like buttonhole as it is a marvellously versatile stitch. Buttonhole can also be worked in freeform manner with rows stacked to create texture. The illustration above is worked in a fine woollen yarn which was hand dyed. Other textures and patterns can be created if you experiment with changing the spacing and height of the upright arms.

How to work Buttonhole Stitch (Blanket stitch)

Buttonhole stitch is worked from left to right along two imaginary lines. Bring the thread out on the lower line. Insert the needle on the upper line making a straight downward motion.

buttonhole stitch step by step 1Loop the working thread under the needle point. Pull the needle through the fabric to form a loop. Repeat this process along the line.

buttonhole stitch step by step 2

You can create many interesting patterns with this stitch by varying the arm length you can create shapes.

buttonhole stitch sample 1If you change the baseline you can create interesting variations too.

buttonhole stitch sample 3It can be fun to work out different patterns

buttonhole stitch sample 2Some become little motifs in their own right

buttonhole stitch sample 4Or buttonhole sttich can be worked back to back.

buttonhole stitch sample 6You can build up interesting patterned bands

buttonhole stitch sample 5Play with the spacing working the upright parts closely together, or work them further apart.

buttonhole stitch sample 10This sample is buttonhole worked in various threads. Try working it different threads, on different fabrics, or fabrics that have been hand dyed or add beads,  overlap lines of the stitch, or use it to couch down another thread or ribbon.

buttonhole stitch sample 11Here I was experimenting with leaf shapes

buttonhole stitch sample 8Of course this is popular stitch used in crazy quilting.

buttonhole stitch sample 7No matter what you do with it explore the stitch.
Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?

As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
a tangle of pinsFollow Pintangle and have it delivered to your inbox

You can have Pintangle delivered to your inbox by using the follow feature in the sidebar. Just enter your email address, and when you get the confirmation email make sure you say yes and you are all set!
If you are on a mobile or tablet you will need to scroll to the bottom to find the follow feature.

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

187 Responses to How to work Buttonhole Stitch

  1. Pingback: TAST 2012 #2: Buttonhole Stitch (Festonsteek) - Studio Paars: borduren festonsteek

  2. Pingback: TAST 2012 #2: Buttonhole Stitch - Studio Paars: embroidery buttonhole stitch

  3. Laura says:

    Buttonhole stitch added to the runner. The stitch is not embellished yet, but hoping to get inspired along the challenge this year.

  4. CaLynn says:

    Happy week 2, 2018! I posted my buttonhole pennant at


  5. Pingback: 1 Year’s stitches Days 37-40 | CrazyQstitcher

  6. Pingback: 1 Years stitches – Days 9 – 12 | CrazyQstitcher

  7. My challenge is stitching on paper.
    I am posting once a month. The first 7 stitches are at this post.
    Sandy, UK

  8. Here is my blog post with the start of TAST 2015. Buttonhole stitch.
    It includes the Fly and Feather, too, because I had been planning a project from the end of July. So, I added to my ‘Slow Cloth’ for these stitches while I got a feel for timing and what to use the stitches on.
    Sandy in the UK

  9. Ulla-Britt says:

    I have now updated my page with a bowl made by Buttonhole stitch.

  10. Mertie says:

    Hi Sharon!
    I am a very late starter. But I got week 1 and week 2 done and now that I am started, hope to catch up very quickly. My stitching can be found on my blog:

    Thank you so much for doing the TAST!!! Its wonderful!

  11. Ulla-Britt says:

    I have added an picture of a felted ball with Blanket stitch to my page about Buttonhole stitch.

  12. Patricia says:

    Here is my Buttonhole Sample
    I love all possible variations.

  13. Sharon Griffith says:

    I just posted my version of the buttonhole stitch for week two..Thanks Sharon looking forward to week 3. If you would like you can go here to check it out

  14. libbyQ says:

    a bit late this week but still have an example to share of the buttonhole stitch


  15. viltalakim says:

    even my daughter wanted to learn the stitch again :

  16. Audrey says:

    I realised just now I forgot to add my link here!
    I thought I knew this stitch but it turns out I had no idea there could be so many variations. I didn't have much time but I tried to make as many as I could.
    My blogpost:
    And my Flickr:

  17. Anneliese says:

    I know I am late for this stitch. But here are my experiments on my blog:

  18. Theresa E says:

    I have posted my buttonhole stitches on my blog at I really must use different color floss next week!

  19. Maureen bond says:

    Running so late- I have finally added my stitches to

    with one photo (nothing startling) of my CQJP here

  20. Virginia says:

    Buttonhole stitch! I really had fun with this one. It's not quite done but close enough to post. 🙂

  21. maneki says:

    Today I added some more buttonhole variations to my blog in a second post:

    This time using beads and working on cotton fabric instead of aida. Enjoy!

  22. Karen Young says:

    Week two is finally done. I have tried to add a little more embellishment this time
    You can see my sampler at

  23. hopscotch says:

    Last minute post of my Buttonhole sample – I thought I'd visited here, sorry 🙂

  24. Lynn M says:

    It's fun to see what everyone is stitching, some are truly amazing. I've finally put what I've done, along with previous work on my blog,

  25. Susie W says:

    I am late as I've had entirely too much fun with guests visiting. Finally have posted week 1 and 2 on my Flicker site here I plan to do all the TAST stitches on my CQJP project which is a Christmas tree skirt done in pinks and soft greens.

  26. Romona says:

    Hi Sharon, Week 2 is done and on my blog. Really enjoying this…Romona

  27. Hi Sharon, Here I am! A little late this week, but hope you'll swing by to see my Buttonhole efforts here.

  28. Debbie says:

    I had fun playing with the buttonhole stitch this week. I can't believe I got it done before Week 3 showed up!

  29. Jane Compeau says:

    Here's my simple sample… I do want to add one more horizontal line:


  30. Liana D says:

    Hi Sharon, here is my Buttonhole Stitch sampler. As I work during the week, and most Saturdays too, I won't be able to post my TAST work before Sunday or Monday…

  31. Susan says:

    I'm almost late, but I got something very basic done tonight! Looking forward to the next stitch!

  32. Diane says:

    This is my second attempt to post a comment, and I sure hope it works this time. My first post disappeared in cyberland. ;-( I thoroughly enjoyed the buttonhole stitch and added beads as I was embroidering the stitch. There is a small tutorial on my blog showing how I did it. Just follow the link and you can see my buttonhole sample

  33. Please stop by to see what the Tuesday Stitchers have done as a group of friendly stitchers. Our blog link is here:

    See you soon!
    Debra S

  34. Luiz Vaz says:

    When Fly stitch meets Blanket… more fireworks!
    Thankyou Sharon!

  35. Tabitha O. says:

    I finally got this done had to put it aside for a little while to finish up some costumes but I am finding it a very rewarding and peaceful project.

  36. Yuma Tatter says:

    I've finished the work on my sampler border and on my January CQJP block for this week. You can take a look on my blog:
    Really enjoying the challenge, and seeing all the many interpretations of each stitch.
    Thanks for the motivation, Sharon!

  37. Kim Stapleton says:

    Finally I have got going so my buttonhole sample can be found here it was fun to do. Looking forward to the next stitch.

  38. Leena says:

    Have learnt the stitch and used it to make a small project


  39. Sandy Jandik says:

    My samples will be on my blog in the morning. It's scheduled but if I wait to post here, I"ll forget.

  40. Annet says:

    I made some freestyle buttonhole stitches on a rust dyed fabric. It was fun to watch this grow:

  41. Wendy says:

    I enjoyed doing my buttonhole stitch, I love that it doesn't have to be equally spaced and in neat and tidy rows 🙂

  42. angenita says:

    I decided to jump in this challenge. I'm not a stitcher, I hardly do any needlecraft, but I had fun working at this.

  43. Karrin Hurd says:

    I finished my sample for this week at

  44. Constanze says:

    Just posted this week's effort:

    As for many, a familiar but fun and versatile stitch to practice.

  45. Here's my take on buttonhole stitch:
    I'm really enjoying the challenge so far.

  46. Chena Losa says:

    Aquí está mi trabajo de esta semana. Aún me falta hacer el costurero para añadirlo a la carpeta de archivos que me estoy creando.

  47. Donna Russ says:

    I posted about this week Buttonhole stitch on my blog at http://www, please check it out….it was fun…love the buttonhole stitch.

  48. Cy says:

    And here my experiment with buttonhole stitch. Thoroughly enjoyed my playtime with it.

    Thank you for your visits.

  49. TeriK says:

    I finished my button hole project tonight. I did it each stitch very close together for a fill effect:

    I am so happy to be doing TAST 2012! So far it is making me stretch my creative muscles.

  50. Week 2 completed. Brought back lots of memories. I have blogged about it at
    and posted a copy of the sample at

  51. Diane says:

    I really enjoyed working with the buttonhole stitch this week, and added dimension to the stitch by adding beads. I posted a mini tutorial on how to add beads to this stitch on my blog, and hope it will be of interest to some. My blog is

  52. I started a week late, is that an omen for the coming year? I've never participated before and consider myself a beginner in embroidery. Long time quilter. You can see my Fly Stitch and Blanket stitch at

  53. Liz Adams says:

    I'm incorporating this challenge into several ongoing large embroideries, which are really mixed media pieces, incorporating dyeing, painting and embroidery stitching. You can see Week Two where I've started with buttonhole stitch, at

    Thanks so much for the chance at collaborative art, always a favorite of mine!

  54. chitra gangadharan says:

    thank you Sharon, for giving a opportunity to work on this stitch again. my buttonhole stotch sampler is posted on my blog-

  55. Severine Allais says:

    this week , I sew a postcard using only buttonhole stitches. It is on flickr and on stichin fingers:

  56. I'm definitely not going to be considered 'Interesting' this week, but my post of this week's stitch is up:

  57. AuroraLee says:

    Here's mine… Definitely not as interesting as other's but I'm enjoying learning the stitches!

  58. Here is my week 2 post for this challenge.

    I tried two versions of Buttonhole this week. I'm really enjoying everyone else's projects


  59. Kirsty Macdonald says:

    I have completed my sample of buttonhole stitch. Everyone is producing such beautiful work! I'm getting so many great ideas. Thanks so much!

  60. This is my beaded mandala for week 2 Buttonhole stitch……..I found this stitch so creative and so many variations! I had such fun doing it…….Thanks Sharon for nurturing my creativity !!!
    My bead Mandala is here

  61. shirley says:

    My samples of button hole stitch is on SF. I really enjoyed visiting this stitch again….got a bit carried away but enjoyed working the stitches.

  62. Valerie L says:

    I've finished my picture on felt using the buttonhole stitch. I use that stitch a lot so it was fun to do a little bit more with it.

    You can see my work here:

    Thanks for looking.

  63. Queeniepatch says:

    The buttonhole is a much loved stitch, maybe one of the first I learned as a child. However, some variations are tricky, especially the knotted variety.

  64. Penny says:

    I am afraid I have done a bit of very ordinary burttonhole stitch as I was making a tiny felt heart and used it to sew the heart together and to put on a bit of embellishment. I havent a lot of time at the moment as I have family and friend commitments, promise to do better with the variations, but I had done a lot of that on other challenges I have done with Sharon. on my blog

  65. luiz vaz says:

    My finished (I think) work with buttonhole family stitches! I love this stitch!

  66. Romilly says:

    I actually stitched it fast! (and a lot of it, actually!) Posted today at:

  67. Marg B says:

    Thankyou for getting me started.
    Both week's efforts on the one post on my blog
    . I am enjoying the stitches and wish I could find more time in a week to explore further . However I guess there is always time in the future

  68. maneki says:

    Here's my take on this wonderful stitch:

    I hope to do some more this weekend, not used counted fabric. Aida is so useful when trying to get the stitches straight and even without too much of an effort, but I also love what you can do with the stitch when not bound to the grid of counted fabrics.

  69. Luiz Vaz says:

    One more post.
    Thank you all for the feedback !

  70. Marie-Claude says:

    Hi! Amazing works this week!Thank you Sharon for this exchange ..
    I finished my African House,exlusively in buttonhole stitch …

  71. Karen Jandik says:

    Hi! I just started sewing again. Mom tried to teach me when I was a kid, but I just wasn't interested. As an adult, I've beaded jewelry, played with polymer clay, crocheted tons of afghans, done a bit of drawing, and dabbled with loom knitting. This year I decided to try to sew again. I kind of like it. Who knew? I posted my first two attempts on FLICKR, both on the Take a Stitch Tuesday site and on my own, Jandikk. Take a peek and let me know what you think.

  72. zed says:

    I still haven't got the right fabric, but here are my practice stitches

    I'm enjoying looking at everyone else's work 🙂

  73. marjolein says:

    I used this stitch for a little bunch of flowers, a basic seam treatment and the filling of a carnation.
    The results are here:

  74. Preethi says:

    Here is my first attempt on button hole stitch.

  75. I bring my memories back by stitching the buttonhole stitch. Thanks Sharon for the varities of stitch.

  76. Tahlia says:

    I've had much fun playing around with buttonhole variations this week, and every sample I stitch seems to more ideas for new variations– I seem to run out of time before I run out of possibilities!

  77. Cristina says:

    2 experiences this week:
    1) my "stitch dictionary" now with the 2 stitches linked
    2) an exercise with the buttonhole stitch

    Thanks, Sharon!

  78. Silky says:

    Thanks Sharon, buttonhole has always been one of my favorites.

  79. Diane says:

    I've posted my go at the buttonhole stitch.


  80. Linda says:

    It's great to see how others are using the buttonhole stitch. Here is my sampler for the week.

  81. Kumo Temari says:

    This week I was able to work both on my "temari sampler":

    And create a finished temari using exclusively the buttonhole stitch:
    (inspired by the music of Yo-Yo Ma)

    Thanks again for running this challenge and opening these opportunities.

  82. isabelle says:

    The buttonhole stitch is really a great point: it allows a lot of effects and variations.

  83. Anna Kousi says:

    My work on buttohole stitch:
    What a lovely challenge!

  84. Ty.Jecyka says:

    Here are my Buttonhole stitch variations…

    Thanks a lot for this pleasant moments Sharon!

  85. Gail says:

    Here's a few buttonhole stitches. I'm working directly onto my crazy quilt blocks so it's just the start of stitching.

  86. Christine says:

    This second stitch was an other pleasure to stitch! Thanks Sharon. You can see pictures here:

  87. Catherine Robertson says:

    What fun! My buttonhole stitch example is at my blog address

    Thanks a bunch Sharon for offering this challenge!

  88. Merci pour toutes ces belles balades et interprétations créatives du point de boutonnière .
    Voici mes gammes pour les semaines 1 et 2 .
    Mon blog : http//
    A bientôt…

  89. Lis says:

    I've done a little snowflake decoration with my buttonhole stitch this week, you can see it here:
    Thank you to all the TASTers who visited my blog last week, it was lovely to read your comments.

  90. Ann says:

    I showed examples of how I've used the buttonhole stitch in the past – with artist trading cards, hand-embroidered toys, books, and bags.

    This week, I stitched on aida cloth and paper using a postage stamp as a focal point. Also did journaling and a list of items for which I am grateful.

    Here's the link to the post:

  91. natisadel says:

    un article sur mon blog
    j'espère avoir bien compris le point
    et ne pas mettre trompé ?
    bonne journée de france

  92. Blu says:

    I've done the tons of buttonhole/blanket stitches for hardanger, so I kept this one short and went straight for the variations.

  93. Jenny Ross says:

    I have posted my Buttonhole stitch samples. They include a continuation of my even weave sampler of stitch variations and a free embroidery fish. You can see them on my blog at :


  94. FlowerLady says:

    Good morning, after procrastinating, and feeling behind, I finally decided to make my cover piece using the fly and buttonhole stitches. This was really fun, and I look forward to learning more each week. I am enjoying all of the links to all the wonderful stitchery. visiting is such an eye opener and inspiration to all the creativity that is around the world. Thank you all.

    Here is the link to my page.

  95. Not a lot of inspiration for this buttonhole stitch, however the first page of my stitch book is completed. You can have a look here, I'll post also on "stitchingfingers" in a few minutes.

  96. konnykards says:

    I like this stitch but have done only a few basic lines this time as I added the fabric postcard from TAST 2007 to my new sampler – that has several variations of the stitch. Connie.

  97. Mary says:

    Just a simple stitch around the center of my Dresden Plate for this one.

  98. EC says:

    Just finished my first attempt on buttonhole stitch..Pls do have a look

  99. Sara Hansson says:

    Still working on completing the whole of the printers type tray – so 2 small samples of buttonhole stitch. Fine thread on wood.

    loving this challenge.


  100. Ina says:

    I love this stitch.Normally, I would work a layer of buttonhole knots on top of that to give it a frilly effect.I call this 'frilled buttonhole stitch'.Here are a few examples:

  101. Arlene says:

    I found stitching on the 25 count linen excruciating, so decided to make a miniature CQ to use as my sampler. I posted a few photos, but need to take more of the work I did last night. I really love buttonhole stitch.

  102. Lynda White says:

    This picture is hard to see. Hope you can make it out. You will find it at

  103. Gail says:
    A few buttonhole stitch doodles. Using this for CQ is way different than making hand-made buttonholes! Thanks for all the inspiration, fellow TAST-ers!

  104. Maggi says:

    Another stitch that I know well but lovely to revisit it. I am working on postcard size pieces and hope to make a book or two out of them. This week's is on my blog, although not finished yet.
    Looking forward to next week's already

  105. Christina says:

    And my attempt to practice on this famliar stitch, even for a beginner like me. Loved to see that even this stitch gave me more variations then I thought possible.

  106. Kathy says:

    I ended up picking out a lot of stitches but I had fun working with variations of this stitch.
    Here is my sampler.

  107. Thanks for this great project that is so much fun! is where my Buttonhole Stitch is. I am leaving for a few days with no internet connection so I will enjoy the other samplers next week. Can't wait…

  108. Angela says:

    Wow that week went by fast! I have posted a picture of my buttonhole stitch on my blog here
    I wish that my work was fine and delicate like so many of you do. Alas, that is not me. I guess I should just celebrate that I am a creative person – unique, not delicate but unique nonetheless. Truly we all bring a unique aspect to this world and we should enjoy that!

  109. Barbara b. says:

    Ich hatte schon eine Seite für mein Stickbuch gestickt und dort mit dem Buttonholestitch gespielt.
    Hier ist der Post

  110. Christine T says:

    On my tumblr, you can see my buttonhole stitch :

    It's an another part of my stitching book – first page, I made four stitch on a page !


  111. Mary Ruth says:

    I put up a bit of buttonhole sittch this week. Some is new and some is very old.

  112. Brigitte Otto says:

    Had another two fun days and will have some more!

  113. This is my example of buttonhole stitch.
    Sharon, it's so interesting to look others works! and it's very interesting what will be the next! 🙂

  114. Nathalie L says:

    Miss Buttonhole stitch is born thank you Sharon for your time.

  115. Kathy R says:

    Myfanwy, Very Creative. Kathy

  116. Nat Uhing says:

    A favorite of mine, so it was quick and fun to do! I went with 'blanket' because buttonhole has more letters to stitch! ;D

    Also, a question from a newbie for you, Sharon:

    On the stitch dictionary page of each stitch you list other stitches that the current stitch is related to; should we be considering those as options for the sample, as well, or will TAST eventually get around to devoting a week to each of those other stitches? Ex. will I get a chance later in the year to work buttonhole bars, or closed feather, or the wonderfully titled Up and Down Buttonhole Feathered (!), or was this week my only chance to do all those? Just wondering how far I can take it further.
    Thanks for your time, sorry for these elementary questions.
    XX Nat

  117. Myfanwy says:

    This is a stitch I know well. I have very little time this week, so this is a quick interpretation. I'm not proud of the stitching, but hope you'll find it fun

  118. Karen K says:

    Blanket stitch is one of my favorites!!

  119. Cyndi L says:

    I always use this stitch to hand piece my quilt tops, but that would be cheating to count that, so I tried using the stitch to couch over some interesting fibers and then added another row just for the fun of it!

  120. Petra Weiler says:

    Oh, how I liked working on this Buttonhole challenge. Results can be seen here:

    Thank you Sharon, for organizing that for us. I´m highly motivated and inspired by all these nice works I see. Great!

  121. Julia says:

    The buttonhole stitch is the perfect compliment to the fly stitch on my "lace fans"! Solved a problem I was having trying to seek a nice balance. (I hope this link works!)*KV4PGswwiU2lUKVZtlI4Gn62IhwQ2raOOKpDj6mfDKNr2nIQDgkWbaGDthV/buttonholelacefans.jpg?transform=rotate(90)&width=640&height=383

  122. Cyndi L says:

    I always use this stitch to hand piece my quilt tops, but that would be cheating to count that, so I tried using the stitch to couch over some interesting fibers and then added another row just for the fun of it!

  123. Cyndi L says:

    I always use this stitch to hand piece my quilt tops, but that would be cheating to count that, so I tried using the stitch to couch over some interesting fibers and then added another row just for the fun of it!

  124. chitra gangadharan says:

    My earlier variations of this stitch are blogged here-
    I enjoyed doing these last time around, Iam yet to start thinking on any new versions.
    Thanks, Sharon

  125. viltalakim says:

    thanks for this special prohject it is so juch fun!! Here is my first attemp :

    Gonna check what the others did

  126. Annet says:

    I started with a buttonhole border inspired by a new tangle pattern. I also added some older examples and a link to my TAST 2007 sampler.
    It's fun to experiment wiht buttonhole stitches again!

  127. Sorcha says:

    And here's my first go with this….

    trying to decide whether I should be working with or without a hoop!

  128. Tenar says:

    I'm showing an old, unfinished buttonhole stitch sample which I plan to finish.

  129. Sophie says:

    Merci Sharon pour ce nouveau point! Je suis ravie et voici le résultat sur mon blog 1 ATC et 1 petit paysage bises de France

  130. Savitha says:

    Thank you Sharon for choosing the button hole stitch for this week TAST. I have posted my button hole stitch motif.

  131. Savitha says:

    Thank you Sharon for choosing the button hole stitch for this week TAST. I have posted my button hole stitch motif.

  132. I am still working on my fly stitch and I haw started a new serie of pages on my blog where there will be a new page for each seam. Here is a picture of lace seam with buttonhole stitch:

  133. hopscotch says:

    Week 2 – here I come!

  134. Like past week this is a familiar stitch, practised for example in TAST in 2008. See . But of course I am going to make something this week too.

  135. Diane says:

    Love revisiting the old standards.

    Hope to see everyone's samplers.
    :Diane ~ yarngoddess

  136. Susan says:

    Oh, yay! I love this stitch, and look forward to a chance to explore more variations of it. I was dreaming about a variation last night, so now I get to try before I forget it!

  137. Love to see all the variations of this stitch!!!Thank you sharon

  138. Sharon Griffith says:

    Thank you Sharon….Now this one I will try doing something different…..Have a great week

  139. Petra Weiler says:

    Anna, I agree – me too, I expected the buttonhole stitch and I´m excited to start tomorrow in the evening. Enjoy experimenting!

  140. Anna Kousi says:

    I don't know why but I was sure that the next one will be : buttonhole stitch! I wish you all a nice and productive week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *