Claire Shaeffer Shares the Secret to Couture Buttonholes

Its the small details that really elevate a couture jacket. One of those crucial features is your jackets’ or coats’ buttonholes. Couture sewing expert Claire Shaeffer shares her tips to creating stylish buttonholes which are sure to upgrade any garment and take it to that next level of sophistication.


Most Chanel jackets have hand-embroidered thread buttonholes; and occasionally, a jacket will have a bound buttonhole used as a trim. Thread buttonholes tend to be unattractive on the underside especially when the jacket is finished with a contrast lining or facing and the thread does not match the lining fabric.

Enter the double buttonholes. This buttonhole is unique to Chanel. It has a hand-made thread buttonhole on the face side of the jacket and a faux bound buttonhole on the lining or facing. Yes, these faux bound buttonholes are used on couture Chanel’s ; and they are very easy to make.
Hand-embroidered buttonholes require a lot of practice; and you can expect to make at least one hundred before you are happy with the results. Here is another option: use a machine buttonhole to replace the hand-embroidered buttonhole on the jacket. then finish the lining side with a faux bound buttonhole.

1. Interface the jacket front and mark the buttonhole locations on the right front.
2. Make the buttonholes. Here are two options.
a. Make narrow machine buttonholes and cover them with hand buttonhole stitches.
b. Use silk or machine embroidery thread to make a machine buttonhole. Of course, you will make lots of samples before making them on your jacket.
3. To finish the buttonholes, cut two strips of the lining fabric about 2cm (3/4”) wide and 5cm long (2”). Fold the strips lengthwise and press lightly. (photo1)
4. Use running stitches to sew the strips to the back of the buttonhole so the folds meet at the centre.
5. Smooth the lining over the back of the buttonhole and baste around the buttonhole.

6. Carefully clip the lining at the centre of the buttonhole.
Claire’s Hint: I clip (1/8”) farther on each end to avoid shortening the buttonhole.
7. Turn under the edges of the opening. Sew them permanently with fell stitches. (photo 2)
Claire’s Hint: If your friends sew, do not tell them that you made a variation; just say “thank you” and smile when they compliment your buttonholes.

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