Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch

Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch

up and down buttonhole sample

Up and Down Buttonhole is a variation of buttonhole stitch which is also known as Mirrored buttonhole stitch. You can easily work the stitch on all types of fabrics. This stitch forms a line made up of a pair of stitches, crossed with a tie at the base. Up and down buttonhole is incredibly versatile. It is simple to work, yet a little unusual. Do look at the directions, as this is not two buttonhole stitches close together, or with a simple tied bar. The stitch can be worked in a square or along a line as illustrated below.

How to work Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch

Up and down buttonhole step 1
Up and down buttonhole step 2
Up and down buttonhole step 3
Up and down buttonhole step 4

Work this stitch from left to right. Each stitch of the pair is a separate step. Starting as you would with Buttonhole, work the first stitch of the pair as a regular buttonhole stitch and with your needle pointing downwards, wrap the thread under the needle and pull the needle through. For the second part of the stitch, insert the needle and take a bite of the fabric, so that the tip of the needle is pointing upwards as illustrated. Wrap the working thread under the needle and pull the needle through the foundation fabric. As you pull the needle through, pull the needle towards you instead of away from you. As you do this, hold down the loop that forms with the left thumb to prevent it from slipping. The loop forms as you stitch.

Note: I have observed that some online instructions would have you create a loop, then lace the working thread through the stitch. This is wrong. You create the loop as you stitch, and, once you have the rhythm of the stitch, it is easy and quick to do. This loop forms the bar at the base of both stitches. This forms the first pair of tied stitches.

Up and down buttonhole step 5
Up and down buttonhole sample 5

Work along the line. Once you have the rhythm of the stitch, it is easy and quick to do.

A versatile stitch

Up and down buttonhole sample 3
Up and down buttonhole sample 2
Up and down buttonhole sample 4

As I have said, Up and Down buttonhole is an incredibly versatile stitch. Along a line, the spines can change angle or length. The stitch is easily worked in a circle with spines pointing inwards or outwards. You can also work it along a curve.   This sample was worked on Block 77 of the I dropped the Button Box quilt. At the bottom of each long arm, I worked oyster stitch in rayon ribbon floss.

Crazy quilt detail 509

On Block 73 in the I Dropped the Button Box quilt, I used Up and Down Buttonhole stitch in bunker thread. I tucked small detached chain stitches worked in metallic thread between the arms of the up and down buttonhole stitch. At the base, I added some seed beads.

Crazy quilt seam detail

Return to Stitch Dictionary Index page

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If you enjoy my site you will gain real value from my book:  Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery: Visual Guide to 120 Essential Stitches for Stunning Designs

Feeling stale? Wondering how to add sparkle to your embroidery? I have aimed Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery to be suitable for both beginners and seasoned embroiderers. It introduces techniques to encourage your creative interpretations of stitches. I guide you towards discovering play-points in your embroidery by varying the height and width; by stacking stitches; or by filling multiple rows with the same stitch. With creative variations and demonstrations of tiny tweaks, You will be ready to head off down your own creative path and, of course, illustrated with plenty of eye candy!

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  1. Just a note that I’m still stitchin’…just behind. I have finished all of June’s work now..you can see it on my blog. Just starting on July…hopefully can get caught up at some point…we are traveling this summer, and there just isn’t as much time to stitch. 🙂

  2. Hi Sharon and everyone, again this was a new stitch for me and I really liked to learn and use this stitch. I had lot of fun with my little embroidery! Thanks for all and have a nice week!
    Happy Stitching! Claudia

  3. I fell so far behind because of personal reasons, (damn those personal reasons), but I’m decided not to give up and stitched five samplers in one sitting. Here are my samplers from 11 to16:
    French Knot
    Stem Stitch
    Satin Stitch
    Barred Chain
    Whipped Wheel

    Can I be proud of myself now? Anyhoo, thanks Sharon! You are an inspiration to me.

  4. It feels strange, but good to be caught up and posting so early in the week. My seam is here http://www.flickr.com/photos/susie_w/ I am learning so much from these exercises. While working toward my goal of creating a complicated, combination seam each week, I always seem to lag part way through. I think “well ….. not every seam can be fabulous ….. just get on with it”, but I hang in there and somehow come up with the “right” combination and am pleased in the end. Thank you for the inspiration and format that is teaching me to let go and trust in my own creativity.


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