Ah button loops. If you’ve never tried them they’re one of the prettiest ways to finish off a neckline.
But if you have tried them, you know that sometimes making a skinny little bias loop is a little fiddly.
In this post, I’ll break down how to take a piece of bias and turn it into button loops you’re going to love. You can use one on a back neckline of a top or use a series to replace regular buttonholes.
Go find your loop turner and let’s sew these guys up!
A big sister note about loop turners
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There’s lots of kind of loop turners.
Some will make you cry. [not being dramatic!]
Turning skinny tubes to make rouleau loops (FYI: that’s the fancy name for button loops) can be zero fun.
There’s lots of methods for turning these loops, but this is one of the few times where I’ll draw a line in the sand and say there’s a best way. Use the skinny turn-it-all tube (the red one). It’s the best loop turner I’ve found. A set is not that expensive, and they turn tiny tubes so fast.
If you use a different tool to turn your rouleau button loops, we can still be friends, mkay!
How to make button loops
Cut a piece of bias
The first thing you want to do when you’re making button loops is to cut a piece of bias. Skip the packaged bias tape as it’s too heavy for this.
The best button loops are made from lightweight fabrics, and they must be cut on the bias. Cotton voile is lovely, as are silks, but don’t go heavier weight than cotton quilting fabric. Too thick fabric will be nigh impossible to turn as a loop.
Find the selvage of your fabric and line up the 45 degree mark of your fabric with it. Draw a line along the edge of the ruler. Next draw a second line 1″ away.
How many inches of bias should you cut for button loops? If you’re just making one loop, about 3″ is good. Make a smaller loop for a smaller button and a longer loop for a larger button. Multiply that out for making more loops. It’s always better to have more than you need.
Cut along your lines and boom, you’ve got your bias.
Sew the bias tape to make a tube
Next, fold your piece of bias right sides together. Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance down the long side of the tube. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8″ if you’re using a cotton quilting fabric. Lighter weight fabrics will turn fine without trimming.
Turning the tube
After that, insert the narrow tube from the Turn-it-All set into the sewn tube. Poke the metal rod into the tube a about an inch from the top. Fold the tube over onto the metal rod. Pinch the fabric and fold it over itself and onto the metal rod. Once you get it going, it’ll nearly turn itself.
Press the turned tube so that the seam is in the middle of the back.
At this point the bias tube is ready to be made into button loops.
Pattern changes for button loops
You can add a button loop casually after the fact, but if you want to make more than one loop, it’s best to plan ahead.
If you want to add multiple button loops on a jacket, sleeve, or a neckline cut the side with the buttons the same. Add 5/8″ to the side with the loops along the center line.
You can also add just to the side with the buttons. This will give the loops a little underlap and the loops will sit a little off center. Asymmetry is cool!
Mark your button loops
Now you need to mark for your button loops.
For one loop, simply mark the position at the top of a neckline.
Sewing the rouleau loops in place
Position one loop, matching the top of the tube to the bottom of the mark. The body of the loop needs to point towards the garment at this point. Keep the ends even or running off the end off the raw edge.
Pin the ends of the loops in place with the pins running horizontally. Baste just inside of the seam allowance to keep the loop in place.
From here, sandwich the loop between the garment and the facing. Stitch through all layers. Trim the loops if they’re hanging off the edge.
After that, flip the loop to the right side.
Sewing multiple button loops
The trick with sewing multiple button loops like you’d see on a wedding dress is spacing and keeping the loops even. Here’s how to sew multiple rouleau loops.
Grab a piece of graph paper. Use a ruler to draw a line tracing one of the lines. Draw another line 5/8″ away. This is your seam allowance.
Past the first line you drew, draw upside down U shapes along the graph paper lines. This is where the loops will be.
Space out the U shapes evenly and make them as wide as you’ll need for the button.
Form each loop with the bend ending at the top of each upside down. Hang the ends of each loop past the bottom line of the seam allowance. Tape the ends onto the paper. Repeat for more loops.
Trim along the bottom seam allowance line and line it up with your garment edge. From there sandwich the loops between a facing. Sew through all layers (including the paper) to finish off the edge.
Pull away the tape and paper. Now you have lovely, evenly spaced loops!
Whether you’re sewing on one loop or multiples, add a small button and enjoy your beautiful button loops!
More sewing tips!
Make your own bias tape
Bias tape you make is more fun than packages!
Practice tips and the best feet for topstitching you can be proud of
13 beautiful Seam finishes
Make the insides of your garments sing!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.