Buttonhole Stitch

Buttonhole Stitch

buttonhole stitch sample 9

Buttonhole 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 marvelously versatile stitch. You can also work Buttonhole in a freeform manner with the rows stacked to create texture. I worked the illustration above in a hand-dyed fine woollen yarn. You can create other textures and patterns 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 1

Loop 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

Some variations

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

buttonhole stitch sample 1

If you change the baseline you can create interesting variations too.

buttonhole stitch sample 3

It can be fun to work out different patterns

buttonhole stitch sample 2

Some become little motifs in their own right

buttonhole stitch sample 4

Or you can work buttonhole stitches back-to-back.

buttonhole stitch sample 6

You can build up interesting patterned bands

buttonhole stitch sample 5

Play with the spacing by working the upright parts closely together, or work them further apart.

buttonhole stitch sample 10

I worked this sample in Buttonhole using various threads. Try working it in different threads, on different fabrics, or on hand-dyed fabrics. Or you can add beads, overlap lines of the stitch, or use it to couch down another thread or ribbon.

buttonhole stitch sample 11

Here I was experimenting with leaf shapes

buttonhole stitch sample 8

Of course, Crazy-Quilters use this stitch a lot.

Crazy quilt Block 74 detail 488

Here I have worked a line of buttonhole stitch in perle #5 cotton. With a silk thread, I added French knots and Cast on stitch loops. I finished off the seam with seed beads and bugle beads. You can see the crazy quilt block this detail came from here

Mid tone detail 2

In this example, I worked Buttonhole stitch in cotton perle #5. I further decorated it by adding sequins and seed beads to the arms of the stitch. If you are interested in seeing, reading about, and getting the free pattern for the crazy quilt block this detail came from you will find it here in my Diamonds are Forever series.

Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?


Create your own designs with Sharon’s easy-to-use stitchers templates. Combine shapes to create hundreds of patterns and designs to embroider. It is the ultimate mix-and-match fun for stitchers of all skill levels. I created them to be as versatile as possible. I include four multi-patterned templates in each set. You will find them easy to use, totally clear to help you position them on your work, and they are nice and compact to fit in your sewing box. Each set comes with an e-book filled with patterns and designs that you can create and use as a jumping-off spot for your own designs. They are available now in our shop here!

Happy stitching!


  1. Pingback: embroidery stitches buttonhole stitch - Studio Paars: embroidery classes

  2. Fabulous stitch Sharon, with so many permutations and variations ! I do my buttonhole stitch another way so need to do a quick training in that, anyway many thanks,
    Kind regards Andy LW, Bath.

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  8. 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 quiltisland.blogspot.com.

  9. 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 http://beautifulmetaphor.blogspot.com

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

    Liz Adams
  10. 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

  11. 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.

    Karen Jandik
  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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

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