Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: December 10, 2020
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Sewing machines come in a wide variety, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing which model to buy. This is particularly true when looking for a machine that can automatically sew buttonholes so you don’t have to do it by hand. This is where we come in. We’ll help you find the best sewing machine for buttonholes, whether you’re looking for a machine to use with lightweight, medium weight, or heavy fabrics.
We have assessed and tested 15 products, and among one-step buttonhole sewing machines, our Editor’s Choice Bernette b38 remains unbeatable on all aspects, from design to speed and number of supported features, including a few innovative ones like the stitch memory. Likewise, the high number of stitches it offers is not something you get from the average sewing machine. Turn to our Product Description segment to read more about this sewing machine heavyweight and others.
For our review, we looked at the features that matter in a sewing machine for buttonholes and assessed each machine’s performance based on these. We’re talking about things like build quality, dimensions and weight, stitching speed, accessories storage, and buttonhole styles. In the Buying Guide, we explain why each of these is important and show you how to evaluate each feature. To help you get the most out of the review and find specific information easily, we’ve divided the review into sections that include a comparison table, comprehensive reviews of each product, a buying guide, and FAQs.
The Bernette b38 gives you 394 different stitches, 8 1-step buttonholes, and 3 alphabets. Included among these is a stretch stitch, which means you can use the machine to effortlessly sew on elastic fabrics. Of the stitches, 67 are decorative. Don’t let these confuse you into thinking the machine can embroider. No, it is not an embroidery machine, but you can use the supported decorative stitches for borders and decorative sewing.
It has 8 presser feet, and in all, you can adjust the pressure, a handy function when working with lightweight and thin fabrics. Other notable features are a threader and automatic cum manual thread cutter.
The machine has a speed of 820 stitches per minute. A speed regulator allows you to adjust how fast you want the machine to be, which enables you to sew at a speed you’re comfortable with. The memory function allows you to save your most commonly used patterns.
A bright LED light keeps your work area well illuminated, minimizing the potential for errors. An LCD display conveniently located on the upper front part of the machine displays your selected settings so you always know what you’re working with and it becomes easy to reset any settings you may have adjusted incorrectly.
It comes with free bobbins and an easy-to-attach extension table that is useful when working on large pieces of fabrics.
The lightweight Brother HC1850 doubles up as sewing and quilting machine, and offers 130 stitches, 8 auto-size buttonhole styles, and 55 alphanumeric sewing stitches. It also has a monogramming sewing font which you can use for basic monogramming projects. A built-in flip chart showing all supported stitches is conveniently attached to the front of the sewing machine so that, at any time, you can easily check which stitches the machine supports. It uses an automatic needle threading function which you activate by pressing a lever, and the auto threader is complemented by a jam-free drop-in top bobbin. This time and effort-saving function ensures you won’t be straining to push the thread through the needle.
It has 8 presser feet, and a detachable foot controller allows you to seamlessly switch between feet.
There’s a built-in LED light that adequately illuminates your work area, but the positioning is awkward because your hand movements as you work the machine can block the light.
A wide range of controls help improve precision during sewing, from needle positioning to speed control, reverse sewing, and more. And you can see your chosen settings on the LCD display. So it’s easy to tell if you choose the wrong settings.
This machine comes with a huge variety of accessories, including a detachable wide table, cleaning brush, 4 bobbins, needles, seam ripper, screw driver, eyelet punch, extra spool pin, and small, medium, and large spool caps.
The SINGER Simple 3232 comes with 32 built-in stitches and supports up to 5mm of stitch width. Among the supported stitches are 6 essential stitches, 6 stretch stitches, 19 decorative stitches, and 1 buttonhole. It also has 4 snap-on presser feet, further expanding the possibilities of what you can sew on the machine.
The automatic threading feature makes threading quick and easy, and eliminates the need for you to thread by hand, saving you both time and effort. However, it’s not easy to figure out how this feature works, and you may not get it by consulting the user manual either. The consolation is that you can put thread through the needle’s eye by hand so you won’t get stuck because you can’t get the automatic threader to work.
A free arm makes it easy to sew small items, tubular pieces, and hard-to-reach areas of fabric. You can access the free arm by sliding off the removable storage compartment.
It comes with a plethora of free accessories, including a lint brush, darning plate, foot control, needle pack, seam ripper, bobbins, thread spool caps, L-screwdriver, edge and quilting guide, and a soft-sided dust cover.
Perhaps what’s most unique with this machine is that it’s made from heavy-duty metal, impressive given how lightweight it is, and will certainly remain usable over the decades. The accompanying 25-year limited warranty is proof of this.
The Janome JW8100 offers 100 built-in stitches, broken into 20 basic stitches, 27 heirloom stitches, 28 home decor stitches, 18 quilting stitches, and 7 automatic buttonholes. The machine uses a 7-piece feeding system to ensure smooth fabric feed on all types of fabrics. A one-hand needle threader gets the thread through the needle eye quickly, saving you precious time. There are clear illustrations on the user manual showing you how to thread the machine.
There’s a free arm to help with sewing tricky sections of articles. This is integrated into the accessory storage. Simply remove the detachable storage to use the free arm.
A backlit LCD screen displays your settings, which you can adjust using the easy navigation buttons. The buttons are conveniently located next to the needle and include a START/STOP button and a reverse button. The speed and needle position buttons are equally responsive.
Although the outer frame is made from plastic, the interior part is constructed from metal, ensuring reliability and durability of the most important components on the sewing machine.
It comes with an even feed foot for pattern matching and working heavy layers, ¼” foot for quilt piecing and making even seams (for a total of 6 presser feet), a free extra-wide extension table to help make large projects manageable, and a hard-sided dust cover to keep your machine dust free.
The Necchi EX30 features a modern design and comes with 30 built-in stitches, including 3 one-step buttonhole styles. The Direct Stitch Selection feature enables you to easily choose which stitch to use and adjust the stitch length and width accordingly. It supports a maximum stitch length and width of 5mm and 7mm respectively. You can adjust your sewing settings at any time using the responsive controls. Available controls include a START/STOP, memorized needle up/down, easy reverse, thread cutter, locking stitch, and speed control.
The machine uses a 7-piece feed dog mechanism to smoothly feed fabrics of all densities so that you end up with neat, even stitches. It also has a removable free arm to help with sewing hard-to-reach areas.
Wide-angle LED lights with twin banks illuminate your work area for enhanced visibility as you work, and an optical magnifier enables you to get an up-close view of your stitching anytime you want to examine your work more closely.
Other notable features include an auto-declutch bobbin winder which stops automatically when full, and the manual thread tension control and presser foot pressure adjustment.
It comes with a complimentary, wide, 16″ x 11″ detachable extension table that makes it easier to handle bigger projects and a hard dust cover, and is covered by a 25-year limited warranty.
What we liked:
7-piece feed dog
Automatic thread cutter
Built-in needle threader
Wide range of controls
Twin LED lights
25-year limited warranty
What could be better:
Limited number of stitches
Things to Сonsider
To a large extent, the success of any sewing project lies with the sewing machine used. With the right sewing machine, you’ll have an easy time producing articles that are well-done, and best of all, you’ll enjoy working on the machine. In this next section, we define what makes a good sewing machine and single out the features you should consider when buying one.
Why you need sewing machine with 1-step buttonholes
A sewing machine with one-step buttonholes takes the guesswork out of measuring the size of your buttonholes. It comes with a buttonhole foot, which produces even buttonholes by sewing them in the same direction for a consistent, neat look. And it’s especially useful when you’re making two or more buttonholes and you need them to be of the same size.
How to use buttonhole presser foot
The process is pretty straightforward:
choose your preferred buttonhole stitch
slide the back part of the buttonhole foot to reveal the button holder and insert the button for which you’re making the buttonhole
attach the foot to the presser foot holder
identify the placement of the buttonhole on your fabric and the direction you want it to follow, i.e. whether horizontal or vertical. It’s a good idea to mark this area with a fabric marker. Your fabric should be sturdy. If using a lightweight fabric, put a wash-away stabilizer under the fabric.
lift the needle and place your fabric underneath the foot. Ensure that the mark you made on the fabric lines up with the indentation on the side of the foot.
lower the presser foot
engage the buttonhole lever
press the START button or step on the foot controller to begin sewing, continuing until the sewing cycle is complete.
lift the needle and the foot, and then slide the fabric off the machine.
Use a seam ripper to pry open the buttonhole, taking care not to go beyond the bar tacks on the edges because this will make your buttonhole bigger than it should be. You may place a pin on each end to make sure that you don’t accidentally cut through the bar tacks.
Buttonhole sewing machine prices vary greatly and range from affordable units going for about $120 to more expensive models that cost $1,000. The price doesn’t always indicate the quality of the sewing machine or the features it comes with. For example, Necchi EX30 offers only 30 stitches yet stands on the high-end pricing side for being a reliable professional grade model with many other features, compared to Brother HC1850 and Janome JW8100 which fall within the lesser price range and yet have 130 and 100 built-in stitches respectively, but fall into more domestic sewing machines category.
A more wholesome way to decide whether the price is right for you or not is to assess whether the parts are of sound quality, and then gauge what the machine offers against what you’re specifically looking for in a sewing machine.
Features to consider while buying the best sewing machine for buttonholes
We’ll now look at the specific features you need to pay attention to when choosing a one-step buttonhole sewing machine.
The buttonhole styles that a sewing machine can make vary from model to model. At the very least, your sewing machine should be able to make straight buttonholes and keyhole buttonholes.
Consider the type of fabrics you’ll mostly be working with when assessing available buttonhole styles. For instance, if you’ll be working with knits mainly, consider a machine that can work corded buttonholes.
If you’ll be working with lightweight fabrics mostly, choose a machine that can make square buttonholes.
For medium and heavy fabrics, choose a machine that can make square buttonholes.
If you’ll be working with heavy fabrics most of the time, choose a machine that can make keyhole buttonholes.
The type of feed dogs on your sewing machine determines how efficiently the feeding mechanism passes fabric through the machine and the quality of stitches you end up with. Without these, you would need to guide the fabric through the machine using your own hands, and this doesn’t always produce a straight line of even stitches. Currently, the best fabric guiding feed dogs use the 7-piece mechanism, which feeds even heavy fabrics through the machine with unmatched consistency. Janome JW8100 and Necchi EX30 both have this.
This determines how quickly the machine can work a fabric. It’s measured in stitches per minute. A sewing machine with a high stitching speed is paramount if you regularly work on large projects. But even on small projects, it means you can finish sewing your items faster than if you were using a slower machine. Some of our favorite fast machines include Brother HC1850, which covers 850 stitches per minute, and Bernette b38, which does 820 stitches per minute.
Choose a sewing machine with built-in LED lighting to enhance visibility around your work area. And this is not only useful when sewing at night. When working with dark fabrics, it can be difficult to see the stitches even during the day and when operating in a well-lit area. LED lighting helps illuminate the work area so you can see what you’re sewing better for greater precision.
Lots of sewing machines for buttonholes come with an LED light, including Bernette b38 and Brother HC1850. Necchi EX30 even goes a step further and uses twin banks of LED lights to vastly boost visibility.
Dimensions and weight
The size of your sewing machine can make it portable or not. If it’s too big, it can be awkward to move it around. There is also the issue of working and storage space. The machine should match the space you have available.
The same applies to weight. If you intend to carry the machine to different places often, choose a model that is lightweight, like SINGER Simple 3232 or Brother HC1850. If, on the other hand, you only plan to use the machine in a specific place, then you can go for a heavier machine since you won’t be lifting it or carrying it regularly.
In most cases, sewing machines come with accessories storage that houses a free arm. The storage is removable, and when detached, it reveals the free arm. You need this feature if you’re going to be sewing tubular pieces of fabric like pant hems and sleeves. The free arm helps with positioning of the fabric, allowing you to slip the fabric around the arm so that you can sew around the fabric without accidentally joining the piece.
A 25-year limited warranty is pretty standard for most sewing machines for buttonholes. When investing in a sewing machine, you hope that it can last for a decade or more. Not to mention they don’t come cheap so it’s not something you want to dispose of easily. That said, there are quite a few models that have a shorter warranty period, like Bernette b38, which is guaranteed for 10 years on the mechanism and 2-years on labor.
Majority of sewing machines on sale today are made of plastic. Still, the plastic used is of high quality and strong enough to last a good number of years. There are some models that are made from metal, like the SINGER Simple 3232, but these are few. Nonetheless, they are far more durable than plastic sewing machines. To further enhance the structural integrity of their sewing machines, some manufacturers use metal on the interior portion of the machine and plastic on the exterior. A good example of such a sewing machine is Janome JW8100.
Some sewing machines can be really loud. Check what the indicated dB level is before buying so you don’t end up with a loud machine that irritates everyone in the house. You can also visit your local crafts store to get a feel of what the specific sewing machine you want to buy sounds like (hopefully they have the same model) before buying it.
It helps if the machine comes with useful features like an extension table to help you navigate big sewing projects and a host of sewing accessories like seam rippers, and screwdrivers to make your experience more enjoyable.
No. Only sewing machines with a buttonhole feature can sew buttonholes. This should be clearly indicated in the product description, and when in doubt, confirm with the seller/manufacturer before buying.
No. You can use the same thread you’ve used on the rest of the fabric, especially if you want the buttonholes to blend in with the rest of the garment. However, if you would like to create contrast or want the buttonholes to also be decorative, you may use a different color of thread.
Bernette b38 takes 1st position as our most preferred sewing machine for buttonholes. This machine offers a lot, including 394 unique stitches, 8 presser feet, automatic thread cutter, and memory function, not to mention that it’s a fast machine with a speed of 820 stitches per minute.
Our 2nd choice is Brother HC1850, wowing us with its 3-in-1 functionality. Use it for sewing, quilting, and basic monogramming; it does it all. We like the variety of stitches it offers and the strategically-located flip chart which places all available stitches right in front of you while you use the machine. Plus, it’s lightweight and has an impressive range of controls.
Our third best sewing machine for buttonholes is SINGER Simple 3232, simple in design as its name denotes, and easy to operate. We like its lightweight, metal construction; the diverse stitches, and the range of accessories it comes with.