Buttonhole edge stitch

There are several edges that I have seen on hardanger worked pieces: turned hem, fringed and buttonhole. I mainly finished my worked hardanger designs with a buttonhole worked edge so that I can trim off excess fabric.

This stitch edge can be worked in buttonhole stitch (where the needle is worked pointed out towards the edge of the design area) or blanket stitch (where the needle is pointed inwards). And before I get emails about this, I have seen the definitions of buttonhole and blanket exchange in that the needle is pointed opposite to what I wrote.

What ever way one wants to define the position of the needle (pointed in, pointed out) the buttonhole or blanket stitch is used to form a snuggly worked, loop (over the fabric edge) stitch against which, with a super sharp embroidery scissor, you can closely trimmed off excess fabric without snagging or cutting stitching threads.

I call the edging stitch that I use, The Buttonhole Edge Stitch. I added the word ‘edge’ to differ it (within my mind) from an embroidery surface buttonhole stitch. They, hardanger or surface, buttonhole stitch are about the same except in surface I use the buttonhole stitch to make lovely curved flowers that I work with a quite bit looser tension than I do hardanger stitching.

different style edges

different style edges

There are numerous styles to a hardanger buttonhole worked edge. Well worth doing a websearch for hardanger images and see all the wonderful buttonhole edge style that have been created.

Checking your work

Checking my work as I stitched a straight, over four fabric threads, buttonhole edge.

Viola, Permin of Copenhagen

This Viola, Permin of Copenhagen design, was displayed on a cabinet top for years before I got the courage to snip off the excess outer fabric!

You can search and find blog postings of Hardanger stitchers who like to machine stitch one or two lines on the fabric that will be underneath the to-be-worked buttonhole edge. This might be a good idea if you are unsure of your thread tension or plan to hand wash your finished piece now and then.

When working a buttonhole edge I like to start a few inches in from a corner. This gives me a chance to settle into the rhythm of my stitching. I am left handed and used to work headed to the left but found headed all the way around working to the right gives me a nicer looking line of stitches.

For each stitch, after pulling the thread all the way through, I give the thread 2 or 3 light tugs to settled the loop then go onto the next stitch. This is because you do want each stitch to be uniform in tension and in-line with its neighbor plus a snug loop helps to lock each stitch.

Snipping edge

Using super sharp embroidery scissors to trim off excess fabric along a buttonhole stitch worked edge

As I mentioned on a previous photo, I had to work several Hardanger projects before I build up the confidence to take a scissor and trim excess fabric from the buttonhole stitched edge. So I can quite understand anyone who hesitates about taking a scissor to their embroidery but once you get the confidence and snip be sure to use sharp bladed embroidery scissors.

Spots of colors

Spots of colors

I found working small projects like these, where I had buttonhole edges gave me a lot of practice and build my confidence. I like to add spots of color about the house by displaying small stitched items on the tops of my cabinets. I have worked several bookmarks using stash threads and fabrics.

The leftmost one was a great way for me to stitch the designs from a blackwork pamphlet that I had purchased a few years ago but never came up with an idea for using the patterns.

Two things tripped me up when I first begun stitching buttonhole edges. (1) was starting the first stitch and (2) adding a new thread. So I wrote the below “reminder to myself” as a sort of journal entry that I could refer.

Starting the buttonhole stitch

Starting the buttonhole stitch

adding new thread step 1

adding new thread step 1

adding new thread step 2

adding new thread step 2

adding new thread step 3

adding new thread step 3

adding new thread step 4

adding new thread step 4

adding new thread step 5

adding new thread step 5

adding new thread step 6

adding new thread step 6