Hi! My name is Lucy James and I am excited to share a fun way to add a bit of pizazz and flair to your projects by hand embroidering flowers into your buttonholes!
While it looks pretty complicated, it’s pretty easy to do with just a couple basic embroidery stitches - a straight stitch and a french knot. I’ve added a tutorial at the end that includes some hints and tips for making a french knot.
I couldn’t resist making the Petunia set in a simple white linen and adding the embroidered flowers into the buttonholes. It’s such a darling little set that it just blossoms from a little extra feminine touch. I used organic wooden buttons for this set, but any solid colored buttons would work equally as well. I can just imagine how stunning this would look on Posy or Tulip! It’s also a fun detail to add to the back buttons of any dress pattern like Laurel, Violet or Azalea.
- A GARMENT OR OTHER ITEM with button placement(s) pre-marked.
- 4 HOLE BUTTONS. Any number, size, and color to match your garment or other item.
- EMBROIDERY NEEDLES. I like to use Bohin Milliner’s Needles in size 1. They are perfect for french knots and bullion knots as the entire needle is straight and does not get fatter at the eye. This makes them much easier to pull through a knot.
- EMBROIDERY FLOSS. The embroidery is made using 6 strands of floss. Select a green that is complementary to your fabric for the stem and leaves, and a second color for the flower(s) that is also complimentary to your fabric.
- SEWING/STRAIGHT PIN, or embroidery needle. This will serve as a riser, or a shank, to ensure that there is enough ease for the buttonhole side to fit.
- Optional: Needle Threader and/or Thimble.
Thread the needle using 3 strands of embroidery floss in your chosen shade of green. These stands should be about 18” long. Once they are threaded through the eye of the needle, pull the threads down so they are even at the ends and then tie a knot. There should now be 6 strands of floss for embroidering. This is called the double fold method of threading. Alternatively, you could thread 6 strands of floss in your needle and only tie the long thread at the bottom. This is called the single fold method of threading. If you have a needle threader available, it may make the process easier.
Step Two (Optional):
Since we will be adding the flower to the top hole and the flower stem to the bottom 3 holes, mark the fabric with a small “+” to guide your sewing. You can do this with a fabric pencil or using two small stitches. If you’re skipping this step, continue onto Step Three.
You will be using a straight stitch and a french knot to embroider the flower in the buttonholes. There will be a more detailed tutorial on sewing a french knot at the end of this tutorial.
For the embroidered flower you will orient the button so that the buttonholes are oriented left-to-right, and top-to-bottom.
Push the needle from the underside of the fabric through the bottom buttonhole and give a gentle tug to make sure the thread is secure. Then, push the needle through the top buttonhole, through the fabric, and coming out on the underside. Before pulling the thread taut, slip your pin or chosen riser under the threads, resting it across the button.
Next, take the needle and push the needle from the underside of the fabric through the bottom buttonhole. Then, making sure you go over the riser, push the needle through the right buttonhole. Repeat Step Four again, so that you have 2 stitches going from the bottom buttonhole, over the riser, and into the right buttonhole.
Take the needle and push the needle from the underside of the fabric through the bottom buttonhole. Then, going over the riser, push the needle through the left buttonhole. Repeat Step Five so that you have 2 stitches going from the bottom buttonhole, over the riser, and into the left buttonhole. When you are finished with this step it should look like a downwards pointing arrow. Then, tie a knot to secure your stitching. The easiest way is to make a loop with the excess thread on the underside of the fabric and then feed the thread through the loop to tie a knot.
Thread the needle using 3 strands of embroidery floss in your chosen color for the flower using the double fold method described in Step One. Again about 18” long. You should have 6 strands of floss for embroidering. Feel free to use a needle threader if you have one available.
The flower is made by making a french knot. You can choose to make one or two flowers at the top of the stem. If you already know how to make french knots, you can skip to the end of the tutorial to see the finished garment! Otherwise, follow along and I’ll share some hints and tips for making french knots! If you are new to french knots, I suggest practicing a few times on a scrap piece of fabric until you get the hang of it.
Take the needle and push the needle from the underside of the fabric through the top buttonhole. Pull the thread taut, and then pinch the floss a few inches from where it exits the fabric. Place the needle in front of this length of floss and then wrap the floss around the needle three times.
While continuing to hold the floss taut, insert just the tip of your needle as close as possible, but not through, the same exit point of your fabric in the top buttonhole.
Then pull the floss downwards so the coils don’t have any slack, and are flush against the button. You can most easily secure the floss taut by holding your thumb right against the edge of the button.
Please note the below photo is not in the same orientation of the last two photographs. The completed french knot in this photo is pictured to the left, instead of the right.
While continuing to hold the floss taut, push the needle all the way through the fabric. Continue to hold the floss taut as long as possible before you release it, pulling the entire length of the floss through the center of the coil. Then, tie a knot to secure your stitching.
Step Eleven: Admire the beautiful work you just did sewing on your buttons with an embroidered flower!