How Not to Ruin a Jacket at the Last Moment

 My polar fleece jacket (which is also a stash busting project for the 2013 Style the Stash Sew A Long (  is nearly complete.  I've spent a couple of days on this jacket and ignored all my chores, and at this stage it is now ready for the fasteners.  The pattern suggests  using polar fleece and suggests closing the jacket with buttons and buttonholes.  - and I am a little wary, because I don't think polar fleece and buttonholes are going to work.  So, I need to test first (actually, this is a good thing to do for all garments where buttons are a feature).

First, get your machine in order:  Check the bobbin has lots of thread - you don't want it running out half way through a buttonhole.  Attach your buttonhole foot.

Buttonhole foot - Attach, Bobbin, check it has lots of thread.
Set your machine to the correct settings for buttonholes.  Mine is an old machined and operates manually.
Set Stitch width to narrow zig zag/satin stitch
Your machine will be different from mine but the principles are the same. Automatic machines are nice because you can just let the machine do the work.  With manual buttonholes you have to do it all yourself - including keeping things straight.

 Next, prepare your sample for the buttonhole - I've done a similar seam, because I find that even seams can interfere with how the machine foot operates.  Then measure the length and work  out the position of your buttonhole.

Measure and mark buttonhole position
Measure buttonhole length
If you have an automatic buttonholer, this is done for you - just follow the guidelines in your manual.  I wouldn't use my automatic machine (I do have one, rarely used) as this fabric is far too thick - especially with two layers to go through.

Next, stitch the buttonhole:

Carefully stitch buttonhole

First finished buttonhole
I did two buttonholes, one with stabilizer behind the buttonhole and one without stabilizer:  The stabilizer is useful for fabrics that stretch to prevent stretching.

Second finished buttonhole - with stabilizer behind

Next cut the buttonhole open:

Stabilized buttonhole
The stabilized buttonhole is not too bad, but the unstabilized buttonhole stretches  considerably:

Unstabilized buttonhole
Okay, tear the stabilizer away, and turn over and look at the back:

Stabilizer torn away
This is not a look I want in my jacket thank you very much.  Sometimes you hear all sorts of suggestions like using permanent  pens to colour things - don't go there, it might colour the same, but always with a shiny iridescence.

So, my instincts were correct - buttonholes will not work for this jacket.  I will use press fasteners instead:

Mark position of closures (your pattern will give you guides for these).

Deciding on a press stud fastener : 15 mm or 6/8th inch chosen.
I attached three press fasteners but wanted the jacket to look buttoned up when worn.  I also wanted buttons to show when worn open.  So then I had to carefully attach those so that they lined up with the studs - but I couldn't sew over the studs.  So they are just a little higher, and the buttonhole also anchors into the top hole of the press fastener.

Voila:  A jacket with buttons that closes with press fasteners.  And it works :)
Press studs and buttons attached.
I'm just popping out now, and am going to wear my brand new jacket - I feel more dressed with a jacket.

Tomorrow I'll post the pictures of me wearing the jacket, along with details of how I made it.

Do have a lovely evening, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz :)


  1. The jacket looks great. The snaps were definitely the way to go.

  2. Very nice jacket! Question, what brand/type of sewing machine are you using? I have never seen adjustments levers like that on a machine and it peaked my interest!

    1. Thank you. The machine is a Bernina 217N, about 1970. They are still made today. It is a semi industrial machine - semi-industrial because it has a zig zag function, which slows it down. Industrial machines are not as pretty as domestic machines, also large - hence the practical looking levers.

  3. It does look great. It is amazing how button holes will make or break an outfit!

  4. The snaps were very smart-I love your jacket!

  5. A Smart Looking Jacket! Did I See Towel Stuffed Into A Sleeve There? Very Cool, We Can SEe Clearly The ShapeoOf The Sleeves :)

    1. I do sometimes stuff things in garments so you can see - unfortunately I make so many dark things it's hard to show you all the details.

  6. I like the look with snaps better than with buttons. Besides, I think the buttonholes will have stretched out after time in fleece.

    1. Yes L, I was very dubious about the idea of buttonholes in a stretch fabric.


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