Detached buttonhole: learn the two types


Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Another way of filling a shape in your embroidery pattern :)


Lots of pictures below, you were warned!

So, the stitch of this month is detached buttonhole! Or, rather, the technique of this month, because actually, this stitch has some variations and the name can even be extended to a technique common for stumpwork (which will hopefully be covered in one of the next posts).

But I digress.

If you are not familiar with a regular buttonhole stitch, check out these posts first:


I recommend trying it out on a spare piece of fabric first, at least the basic one, to get used to the way it is worked. Although, you can actually work detached buttonhole without any preparation!

Now, let's start the lesson because it is quite long as it is.

Detached buttonhole type 1: loose


I'm working this one with 1 strand of floss.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

First, we need to outline the shape. I used chain stitch, but other line stitches will do just as fine: back stitch, stem stitch, split stitch will suit this purpose. Now, if you strive for perfection, you might want to work the stitches evenly on the left and right sides. In this case, they will serve as a sort of mark.

I'm usually the one to take it easy, so my stitches aren't perfectly aligned, they only serve the purpose of being an outline. Because of that I don't have marks and have to rely on my intuition, but I don't really mind, haha.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

We begin the first row of detached buttonhole the following way: bring the needle up through the fabric at one side of the shape, a little under the top, then slide the needle through one of the stitches of the outline vertically with your tip going downward. Notice how the working end of the thread is being tucked under the needle tip at this step.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Pull the needle through, forming a loop. Keep it loose enough, don't pull too tight. But also, keep it in shape, you know? Well, you will get a hang of it once you try!

Keep making stitches the same way and don't forget to slide your needle under the top stitches with its tip down and with the working thread tucked underneath.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

After you make the last loop, insert the needle on the other side of the shape, a little below the top level, mirroring what you did in the first step.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Now come up through the fabric on the same side and repeat all the steps except that now you will be anchoring your loops on the ones from the row above.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Keep going!

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

By the way, for weaving techniques like this it is always better to use a needle with a blunt tip to avoid picking on thread fibers. I was too lazy to search for one in my stash though, so I just moved the needle with the needle eye down.

If you look closely at the loops from different rows you will see the slight difference in how they are formed. It is because we change the direction with every row. But the difference is very difficult to notice without looking closely so we can make this sacrifice in order to save thread, right?

It will not work for the other type of detached buttonhole though....

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

When we finished, we need to anchor the last row. For that, make a loop like you would normally do, tucking the working end of thread under the needle, and then slide the needle under one of the stitches from the outline.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

It will anchor the loop to that stitch.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Keep doing the same with the rest of the loops in the last row.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Anchored well!

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

The result. Well, not perfectly neat, but it is a practice so I didn't really sweat over it, haha.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

I actually used this detached buttonhole for the leaves in this pattern! You can see that it can be worked for irregular shapes as well. Going to be a little challenging, but you just need to calculate the way place your rows.

Detached buttonhole type 2: close woven


The order of work for this is almost the same, the core movements are identical – we just add one more element.

For this shape, I'm using 3 strands of floss, to make the weave even more close and dense. If I worked it with 1 strand of floss it would be a little more airy, but I wanted to show how to get that “heavy” effect.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

So, work an outline for your shape, I used back stitch here. Then, come upwards through the fabric at one side of the shape and insert the needle at another side on the same level. You are making a giant straight stitch this way, which lies horizontally on the fabric.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

And then, on the same side where you inserted the needle last time, you will come up a little below that bar, and make a loop. The loop is worked almost the same way as before: the needle sliding downward through the stitch above, except that the needle also goes under the bar before you tuck the working thread under it. So, remember: under the stitch above, under the bar, but over the
working thread.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

This way, you are trapping the bar stitch inside your loop. And then you can continue working the full row repeating the previous steps.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

When you reach the other side, you need to make a new bar and start another row of detached buttonhole.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

So, basically, you always start on the same side. With this type of weaving and this thickness of thread, if you start a new row of loops from another side, the difference will be more visible. It is not that likely to start from the other side, though, because you always come back to the same one after making another bar, anyway. But I'm telling this in case your thread ends and you want to continue from the other side. The difference in loops will be clear!

Now to the topic of anchoring the loops. I have two suggestions.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Here, as you are working the last row of loops, you can slide under the outline stitch as well. So, the order will be: under the loop above, under the bar, under the stitch from the outline, over the working thread.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

It will create a sort of an edge.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

Another way is to work the last row of stitches completely (I cut it in half here just to show you what it would look like), and then anchor every loop like you would do with a fly stitch.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

This is how it can look like. You can also anchor it right over the outline stitches!

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

I used the first method to save thread because it was about to finish, haha.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

It can be worked even closer, actually. To the point that the background hardly peaks through at all. For that, make your loops shorter – I skipped every other back stitch when I was working the first row, but you can make a loop for each one.

Detached buttonhole: learn the two types

So, here are the new ways you can fill your shapes in embroidery. One is an open filling, like lattice, the other is... semi-solid, I would say? It will depend on how closely you work it and how thick your thread will be!

Oof, congrats if you made it till here! See you at the next tutorial! :)

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