Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Are you tired of buttonhole stitch lessons yet?? Yes? Too bad, because I have another one! 😈 

Sorry, sorry, I know there's been quite a lot of buttonhole this month, and I wasn't planning on adding more today, to be honest. But I'm currently preparing a practice piece I'd like to share with all of you, and while I was stitching it, it dawned upon me, that there is an aspect in buttonhole stitch that I didn't speak about yet – ending an old thread and starting a new one. So I thought it would be better to cover ALL possible questions now, to prevent any possible problems and make the stitching process as joyful as possible :)


We all want our stitching to look neat and nice, and what I absolutely hate in my embroidery is when I know that there is a place I'm not satisfied with, which I wish I could do better. Other people might not even notice that “defect”, but I know that it exists and it spoils the pleasure I can possibly get from my work.

One of such things is buttonhole ending-starting process. For quite a long time I used to finish and end thread using anchoring stitches (I will explain it below). And... it seemed to me as the natural and the “right” way and I didn't even think about any alternative. But I didn't like the look of it. The anchoring stitch was visible. It was apparent. It wasn't supposed to be, though! Whenever you start a new thread it's best to make it as inconspicuous as possible for the smoother and complete look of the work.

So another, inconspicuous way of starting a new thread, was an eureka moment for me. You know, that kind of discovery that “you wish you knew before”. That's why, even though this blog might get an overdose of buttonhole stitch already, I will still persist on telling you this tip!

So, for starts, let's see the most common way of ending and starting thread when you use buttonhole stitch.


As I already mentioned in the post about buttonhole basics, when we end the line we usually use a tiny anchoring stitch to secure the last loop in the position we need. That's why, the most likely way of finishing the thread you'd think of while working buttonhole, would be the anchoring stitch, even if your thread ended in the middle of the line.

So, the process would look the following way:

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Making a tiny anchoring stitch.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Then bringing the needle with the new thread in the same point where the anchoring stitch started. And proceeding working buttonhole stitch further – be it a line or a shape that needs to be filled.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

The thing is, that anchoring stitch is still visible. Yes, without a close inspection in the pictures above it is quite hard to notice it, but trust me, sometimes it can look worse and the joint will be more apparent. Especially if you like using more than two strands of floss when you stitch.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this method is “wrong” or “bad”. I've been using this way of starting new thread for quite a while and it does the job, but... it has its disadvantages.

Now, if you prefer your embroidery to look smoother and have no visible “joints” on the surface, then I suggest taking a look at the alternative way of finishing thread:


Now, let's go back to the moment when we decided that it's time that thread should be ended.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

What you need to do now is to remove the needle, while leaving the thread hanging there, on the surface of your work. Note that the last point where the thread was brought up to the front is inside the loop, on the edge of the ground line of your buttonhole.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

No need in anchoring stitches! We just leave the thread hanging :)

Now, since the needle is free now, we thread it with new strand(s) of floss and bring it up in the same point where our old thread is hanging from.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Then I recommend making at least one stitch with the new thread, while putting the old one a little aside.

Now, flip the hoop to see the back of your embroidery and pull the old thread to the back of the work and secure it. The you can proceed with working buttonhole stitch.

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Buttonhole stitch: when the thread ends

Because there is no anchoring stitch, it looks as if there was no joint – as if you keep working with the same thread.

From the post it might seem that the second method is more bothersome, but it's actually not! It's very fast to execute and has the benefit of making your work a bit neater, so I really recommend at least trying it out. Then you can decide which method you like more :) It can be applied to any loop stitches, by the way: lazy daisy, chain stitch, fly stitch and so on.

By the way, the pictures above give a sneak peek into the practice piece I'm preparing for the next post. The pattern will be available for free and will help you train buttonhole variations and filling the shapes. You know what they say: “practice makes perfect” :)

See the rest of the lessons here:

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

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