Does the idea of making buttonholes on a delicate silk fabric make you hesitate a bit? You can add a silk blouse to your wardrobe without fear of buttonholes: Simply alter your shirt pattern to include a hidden button placket. It may sound tricky, but it’s actually quite easy. Follow the steps below to add this buttonhole trick to your repertoire.
Before we start sewing, here is a review of the pattern pieces and markings needed to create this:
- The shirt front
- The front facing
- A placket piece that you will create
This method starts with a pattern that has a front facing instead of a sewn-on button band.
If your pattern has a sewn-on button band, you need to find the center front line and adjust your shirt front pattern piece. Create a facing, which is a copy of the front edge of the pattern as shown below. You’ll also make the 3″-wide placket. Your top button will likely be just at the bustline or slightly above, so that will determine the length of the placket. Note that there are dots that match on the shirt front, facing and placket pieces. This is where you will start and stop sewing the edge seams.
Before sewing, be sure to evaluate if and where interfacing is needed. It likely is in any lightweight fabric to support the buttonholes. In the silk blouse shown above, the front facing and both placket pieces are interfaced with lightweight fusible, but the blouse front is not.
Hidden button placket tutorial
Step 1: Attach the placket pieces
Sew the placket pieces to the shirt front and the front facing. Sew right sides together, just between the marked dots. I’m using four colors of fabric in the example so you can see where the various pieces wind up when the placket is finished. On an actual shirt, the right/wrong side of the fabric will likely be more evident.
Step 2: Clip and trim
Clip the seam allowance to the marked dots on both the shirt front and the front facing. Trim the seam allowance if bulky, as it might get caught in the buttonhole in a later step.
Step 3: Press and understitch
Press the placket pieces and fold under. For the facing, just press. For the shirt front placket piece, it helps to under stitch just between the dots to get a crisp edge there, as shown in the pink fabric. Then turn and press that edge as in the facing example.
Step 4: Make the buttonholes
The buttonholes are now sewn in the shirt facing/placket piece. Space the buttonholes evenly and have them start about 1/4″ – 1/2″ inch below the clip point at the upper part. The bottom buttonhole should be similarly spaced to finish about 1/4″ from the lower clip point. This will give your fingers room to get in there and actually do the button. When sewing the buttonholes, have the placket facing upward on your machine surface, as this is usually the neater side of a machine-made buttonhole and will be visible inside the placket.
Step 5: Sew facing to shirt front
With right sides together, match the dots (the clip points) and sew the facing to the shirt front above and below the placket.
Step 6: Turn and press front facing
The facing is attached to the shirt front, so now give it a good press. I like to press the seam flat open first and then turn the facing under and press the folded edge of the shirt.
Step 7: Stitch shirt front and facing together
To finish the placket, run a line of stitching down the shirt front, about 1 1/4″ from the front edge, which attaches the facing to the shirt front and also encloses the placket pieces, making the shirt front one unit. Generally the buttonholes are about 1/2″ to 5/8″ from the edge, on the center front line, so I like to sew the line of stitching twice that distance from the edge.
There you go! A hidden buttonhole placket and a sleek front to any shirt or blouse.
Since you only need the hidden buttonhole placket on one side of the shirt, you can attach the front facing to the other shirt front as usual, and continue with the rest of the garment.
This technique can be used on any fabric, but it is especially useful for stretch fabrics that make buttonhole sewing very tricky.