Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tutorial How to make your own buttonhole elastic

OK this might not count as a real tutorial but I didn't know what else to call it.

Have you ever ran out of buttonhole elastic when sewing pants for a child? I have many times! I have very skinny kids so buttonhole elastic is a must. Late one night (probably around 2 AM) I was in a crazy sewing frenzy (that's normal for me at 2 AM) and I noticed I was out of buttonhole elastic. Nothing is worse than being on a roll with my sewing machine, with several projects almost done, and look to see I am missing something I need to finish the projects! Does this happen to anyone other than me??? First I panicked! I was thinking how sad it was to be on such a roll with all 3 little children fast asleep (most nights at least one child wakes up and cuts into my treasured sewing time). I started ripping apart my craft/sewing bins in hopes of finding just a little more buttonhole elastic. I found fold over elastic, swimsuit elastic, wide elastic, thin elastic, elastic thread, lace elastic and several other elastics that I didn't even know I had but NO buttonhole elastic! I sat almost in tears looking at all my elastics and finally it occurred to me that I could make my own. Here's how I did it.

I got some regular elastic.

and the pointiest scissors I own. A seam ripper works but isn't as easy to keep under control.

I poked scissors into the center of the elastic and made a tiny snip.

DONE! It doesn't get any easier than that!

I snip my holes 1/4 smaller than the buttons because the buttonholes stretch a lot when you pull on the elastic. In the picture below the elastic is folded in half so you could see the size of hole compared to the size of the button.

Wasn't that easy??? When I am making jeans for someone other than my kids I snip several holes (about an inch or so apart). For my own kids I often just snip two holes in both ends of the elastic. If my kids need a new buttonhole in the elastic I can make one in 2 seconds time.

Below is a view of how I do my elastic ends in the jeans. Elastic end on the left side I have out of the casing so you can it. Elastic end on right shows the end tucked into the casing and I opened up the fold so you could see it.
Below is a picture of the elastic all tucked neatly away. I know the elastic is in different size loops. You can make your loops as large or small as you like.

I know my buttons don't match! I like the fun handmade look of bright colored mismatched buttons. Clothes I make for others I usually match them but I always mismatch when I sew for my own kids. The silly buttons make me smile when I do the laundry.

I am sure other people have done this before for adjustable waist kid pants... I did a google search for make your own buttonhole elastic but nothing came up so I figured I would share this story so if someone else runs out of buttonhole elastic at 2 AM you will know what to do (and hopefully can skip the tearing apart the sewing area in tears part). For me this works just as nice as the real button hole elastic.

One word of caution! All elastics are made different. Some wear out in clothing quicker than others. If you notice the elastic you buy looses it stretch or frays after lots of washings you might want to switch the brand you use. I have had a few rolls of bad elastic over the years. Don't fret too much over that I have used more yards of elastic than I can count over the last 5 years. Right now I use about 6 yards a week. Back in the cloth diaper years I used a lot more than that in a week. In all of that elastic I have only ever had maybe 9 yards that didn't hold up. The good thing about using the Do it yourself elastic is you can easily take it out and replace it if it wears out. Taking out the type that comes in store bought jeans takes a bit more work. OH! I should say that I have had some of the real buttonhole elastic fray or break over the years. That also doesn't happen very often.


Ellie & Clay said...

Have you had problems with your holes fraying at all?

Amber said...

I haven't noticed a problem with the holes fraying. I'll take a picture of this pair of jeans (now almost a year old). When I find them in the wash in the next few days.

Sarah said...

and to think i was going to go out and BUY buttonhole elastic! thanks for sharing advice that i feel like should be well known but obviously isn't :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million cause I was ready to scream cause I couldn't find any

Amy (naptimecrafters) said...

good to know! I just made my own doing just this and then started to worry about fraying- now I know it should be just fine:)

Rachel said...

Fray block works great to help stop the fray. With 3 tough boys I use it a lot!

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Anonymous said...

What do you do when there's only one layer to the inside waist band and nothing to tuck and sew the elastic into?

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