DIY Buttonhole Elastic

Katy from No Big Dill knows a think or two about kids and clothes. After all, she has six little ones running around. Today she is here to share her buttonhole elastic tutorial. This is a great way to temporarily adjust the fit of a pair of bottoms, especially when they’re destined to be hand-me-downs. If you are all too familiar with buying your child pants that fit in the length and not in the waist, this tutorial is for you.

Katy is one crafty lady with sewing tutorials comin’ out of her ears. She will also show you how to Stamp Your Own Pattern on Fabric and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about adding and choosing snaps. Check out this beautifully sewn dress she made for her daughter.

Keep reading for the DIY Buttonhole Elastic tutorial after the jump…

There are several advantages of buttonhole elastic.  Obviously there is the fit factor.  If it fits in the length you can always adjust the waist.  Secondly, I like the fact that I can easily gather something in just the back of the garment.  For shorts, especially, I really dislike having the elastic go all the way around the waist.  It messes with design and a more tailored look.  And thirdly, I like that I don’t have to commit.  When it gets passed down to the next child, I don’t have to pull out the safety pins and create unsightly, temporary pleats.

When I went to get some buttonhole elastic, I found that they no longer carry in the store.  I even had the employee come over and study the elastic display and then I sighed a big sigh, wondering why my shorts-making momentum was being thwarted.  You can order it online, she said.  While I do find an enormous amount of cool resources online, I don’t appreciate paying shipping costs for something that ought to be in the store.  So, dear readers, what do we do?  Necessity is the mother of invention, n’est-ce pas?

I experimented with what I had.  I have an unreasonable, though slightly founded fear of running out of elastic, so I have a stash of elastic.  All sizes, many types and a few colors.  The first kind I tried is the most accessibly found: knit.  At first I thought I was going to have to sew a bunch of buttonholes along the elastic, but after cutting a little slit, I pulled it in all directions and there was no hint of fraying or distortion.  And I thought, probably like many of you, well that was ridiculously easy, dare I say stupidly simple?!  That’s it!  I folded the edge under and did a quick zig zag stitch.

Just a few tips:
✂ Keep the slit straight, along just one crevice
✂ make it smaller than you would a normal buttonhole since it stretches (duh)
✂ I would make them a bit closer than what I show in the photo for that perfect amount of cinching option.

My curiosity got the best of me and I tried it on the “no roll” elastic.  Results: A big, fat fail.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Stick to the regular knit.

Decide where you want your cinching party to take place, fuse some interfacing where the buttonhole and the button will go, sew your buttonhole closest to the center of the back and a flat (no shank) button on the outer portion.

Thread the elastic through and even out the distribution of the fabric.  Sew a straight line down the center to keep the elastic in place.  An option is to also sew the elastic sticking out down on the opposite side of the button so it doesn’t accidentally get pulled into the casing.

That’s it!

The pattern I used was from this Japanese pattern book:




Nice idea! The pants you made is really nice.
I love your blog! You share lots of great craft ideas.
I’ll check the book you mentioned since I live in Japan!!

Terri P

Love this tutorial (I have also looked for the bittonhole elastic at my local store), but I’m confused by the “sew your buttonhole closest to the center of the back” instruction. The picture appears to show two buttonholes that would be closer to the side seams of the pants, which is how I’ve seen them done commercially. What am I missing?


I think it means “on the side” closest to the center, so on what would be the right side of the clothing (while it is being worn) you sew the buttonhole to the right of the button location, and on what would be the left side you make the buttonhole to the left of the button.

Kat Chavez

I have been looking for a tutorial on this! I am about to make some shorts for the 3yr old boy in my life, but he grows so much so quickly that this will be perfect to keep his pants up. Do you have to use the interfacing or is that just to strengthen the button?

Ashley W.

Could you make the cuts on the non-roll elastic going vertical instead of horizontal? It would still slide over the button and then it would follow the direction of the crevices already in place.


Leave a Reply