Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Here we are, back to the buttonhole - the stitch of this month! I call it the most versatile among all of the hand embroidery stitches, and there is a reason for that. As I mentioned earlier, the buttonhole stitch can be used for attaching an applique to the fabric and for creating an outline or a border (using the variations of the buttonhole stitch). But the versatility of this stitch doesn't end here! 

It can also be used for filling in ALL kinds of shapes! And you can vary the look of the result by changing the density of stitches. The bright side of using buttonhole stitch as a filler, that I especially appreciate, is that it doesn't only fill in the shape, but also creates an outline ;)

Now, let's get to the business and see how the buttonhole stitch works as a filler. 


Circle shape ( + square)


Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Start your buttonhole stitch in any place you want. In case you forgot, you can take a look at a basic buttonhole stitch tutorial. We start by bringing the needle up through the fabric on the outline of the shape and piercing the fabric in a point below – in case of stitching a circle, choose a point in the center of the shape – then bring the needle up again on the outline of the circle shape, stepping a little aside from the first point.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Continue stitching always going back to the center point as you stitch.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

When it is time for the ends to meet, slide the needle under the first stitch and bring the needle down through the center point. This will make the joint less apparent.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

The same way you can fill in a square shape!

A buttonhole stitched circle is often referred to as “buttonhole wheel”. Makes sense, right? It does look like a bicycle wheel with those spokes. So, if you ever want to stitch a tiny bicycle – and these motifs are quite popular nowadays, – remember this stitch ;)

But, of course, wheels are not the only thing you can stitch using this technique. How about circle-shaped florals? Actually, buttonhole can be used as a filler for flowers with any shape!

Flower shape


Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

My favorite one! Love, love, love buttonhole stitched florals. That's my weakness. They come out just so cute and... a little quirky??

The process is basically the same, though. Choose the center of the flower (actually, I sometimes use two neighboring holes, switching between them as I go) and start stitching in the same way as you would with a circle shape.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

And when you finish, slide the needle under the first stitch to hide the joint.

I used buttonhole stitch for filling the tiny creamy flowers in the Winter Joy design (click the link to see pictures of higher resolution):

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes


Heart shape

Want to stitch a lovely heart? Try to fill it with buttonhole stitch!

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Start from the center, making your first stitch a lazy daisy: that means making a loop and coming to the front of the fabric inside of it.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Then continue working buttonhole stitch following the outline of the shape...

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

...and anchor the last loop.

Here I used the center of the shape as the point where all the stitches would meet, but you can change it to your liking. For example, in the picture below the “center” point was higher. That's from the textile baggy I've sewn recently.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

If you don't like the look of the “hole” inside the shapes, you can place there a french knot or a bead! 

Crescent shape


Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Here, we can also start with a tiny lazy daisy stitch...

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

...and then continue with buttonhole stitching.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

The last loop can be anchored with a tiny running stitch.

The reason I showed how to fill in a crescent shape is because buttonhole can often be used for festons, garlands, banners and similar borders. For instance, I used buttonhole for the leaf border in theCrewel Heart:

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes


Leaf shape


There are two ways to fill the leaf shape with buttonhole stitch: starting from the bottom or starting from the top. But the principle is the same.

When you start from the bottom....

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

Make a lazy daisy stitch, and then continue working buttonhole stitch all the way up.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

And anchor the last loop with a tiny running stitch making the leaf top sharp.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

When you start from the top, follow the same steps: make a lazy daisy stitch at the top of the flower, putting its two base points on the leaf 's outline. And then continue working buttonhole stitch till you arrive at the bottom of the leaf, where you need to anchor the last stitch.

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

As you might see, the difference will be in the place of the “ground line” of your buttonhole. Either it will be placed on the outline of the leaf, or it will create a center vine (which will become a double vine when you fill in the second side of the leaf). So, make your choice, considering what final look you want to achieve.

I used buttonhole for filling the leaves here:

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

This pattern was not yet published. As you can see, the buttonhole filling does not have to be scarce – try to place the stitches closely together and they will create a nice solid filling for the shape!

Buttonhole stitch Lesson 3: Filling the shapes

If you missed previous lessons on Buttonhole you can catch up on these links:


Look forward to the next week to have the last lesson with a bit of buttonhole practice :)


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