how to: add a button extension

And just like that, three weeks have gone by since my last post. June and July have been busy and full of new adventures and distractions, but I certainly didn’t think my blogging routine would fall by the wayside. And I’ve had good intentions, saying things like “coming next week” and “look for the new post in a couple days” but time and other things kept me from sticking to it. All of this to say, my apologies for getting off track. I’m excited to be back with you today, and I have tons of content planned for the rest of the summer. The funniest part about all this is that I have the pictures and ideas ready to go, it’s just a matter of editing and typing it all. Maybe I’ve stumbled into a lazy streak when it comes to computer work?

If you’re wondering about what’s been going on with us this summer, I’ll put some highlights at the end of this post. But first, let’s talk about this darling skirt. I’ve had this out-of-print pattern for ages (McCall’s 5431), and it’s one of those patterns that always gives me pause when I’m digging through my pattern stash. It’s a great little skirt for summer, and I especially love the big patch pockets. For the longest time, I thought the design was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. That is, until Emily’s Summer of All the Buttons 2017 mindset kicked in and the lightbulb went off: Buttons! It needs buttons! (And I’m not kidding about my button obsession. I’ve made two new button-up blouses, and I have plans for four shirtdresses. I can’t stop with the buttons.)

My fabric is 100% linen, and I got it from Textile Fabrics in Nashville last month.

In order to have the skirt button up the front, I added a button extension. It’s an easy pattern change to make, and once you know the rules for button placement and spacing, you can apply this concept to just about anything. There’s a few different ways to execute the placket itself (a fold-over facing, a separate placket, etc.), but for this skirt I went with a separate facing piece.

The rules for button placement and spacing are pretty simple, but it all starts with the size of the button. I used 7/8″ buttons for this skirt. Usually, with button extensions (on a blouse, for instance), spacing is determined using the first and last buttons as a guide. Then you fill in the rest, making sure each one is evenly spaced. With a skirt, however, buttons don’t always go all the way to the hem, so determining placement and spacing is much easier. You can just start at the top and work your way down without having to worry about spacing the buttons in between the top and bottom buttons. So, if this is something you’d like to try on a project, I’d recommend starting with a skirt.

Here are the guidelines for adding a button extension:

  1. Length: The length of the buttonhole is equal to the size of the button plus 1/8″. My buttons are 7/8″, so my buttonholes are 1″.
  2. Placement: Buttonholes are sewn 1/8″ beyond the center front line, or wherever the garment is overlapping. So the majority of the buttonhole will be on the garment side, with just the 1/8″ extending beyond center front.
  3. Spacing: For blouses, mark for the first and last buttonhole, and then divide the remaining space among the rest of the buttonholes. For a skirt or other garment where the buttons do not cover the full distance of the placket, start at the top and work your way down. You want enough space from the top of the button so that it doesn’t touch the edge of the garment, but don’t leave too much space so that it gaps open.
  4. Extension/Facing: To accommodate the buttons, you have to add space beyond center front. This is equal to the size of the button. So, I have added 7/8″ beyond the center front line. Then, I added seam allowance (5/8″). In total, I’ve added 1.5″ to center front. (You can see that in the white paper.)

This skirt has a yoke, and only one button could fit on it, so that made this even easier. I simply centered the first button on the yoke and worked my way down.

To determine the spacing for the remaining buttons, I used a couture method I like to call “eyeballing” it. (Hey, when it works, it works!) Bigger buttons need more space between them, and then the opposite is true. Just keep an eye on proportions. My buttons are spaced 3″ apart.

 And that’s it! I’m quite happy with how this skirt turned out. I think the buttons give it a little something extra, and I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of this piece this summer. I really, really need a few garments like this (easy to sew, unlined, comfortable in the heat), so I know I’ll be making this one again.

This pattern is out-of-print, but it is still available to purchase on the McCall’s website. I’d also check eBay too, if you’re interested. I didn’t make any other changes to the pattern, but I will say that it runs a bit big. I ended up going down two sizes. The pocket flap is also a bit funky, so I ignored that pattern piece and tweaked the pocket piece so it would have the same look.

I didn’t have any ribbon on hand that I really liked, but I did have a small piece of lace to use along the bottom of the yoke lining. I think it finishes that seam nicely. It serves no practical purpose, it’s just a pretty detail for the inside.

It’s been a busy summer for us. I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were house hunting, and I’m thrilled to tell you that we found one. YAY! This is our first home purchase together, so it’s extra exciting for us. We have big renovation plans for the house, so I’m excited to share those with you soon too. We’ll be moving next month, and I’ve already started organizing and packing the house we’re in now. It’s been a few years since we last moved, so I’d forgotten (or just blocked out) what a task all that is. But I’m taking it one day and few boxes at a time.

The house we found is truly a blessing for us, and it has just about everything we’d been looking for. Ty has an office, and I lucked into a huge studio space (even bigger than what I have now!), and we have plenty of room for guests and an acre lot for the puppies to run around in. The neighborhood is charming with tons of mature trees, which takes me back to growing up in North Carolina. The house itself has quite a bit of southern charm, and I can’t wait to get some white rocking chairs for the porches and enjoy having usable outdoor spaces.  We love it.

Ty had some business to do in Alaska and California recently, and I got to tag along. His parents have a cabin in Alaska, and they happen to live 20 minutes from where Ty needed to go, so we got to visit with them for a few days. We explored and fished for salmon and had a wonderful time. This was my first trip to Alaska, and it was magnificent. Then we spent a couple days in San Francisco for the final leg of the business trip. I spent an entire afternoon at Britex Fabrics, easily one of the best fabric shops I’ve ever seen.

It’s always fun to leave for a trip, but it’s also nice to come home. I’m glad to be back, and it felt so good to sit down at my sewing machines after a few days away. You know me – always working on projects is my happy place.

Ty in his element, fishing at the Kenai River.

Walking along the beach in Homer, Alaska.

I caught a salmon. ALL BY MYSELF. It was amazing. (Also, kind of gross.)

Beautiful Alaska.

Have a great rest of the week!


  1. Patty S. | 27th Jul 17

    Okay, so LOVE this skirt and the button hack, brilliant! May I ask what fabric/fabric weight you used, and more importantly, that waistband lays down perfectly, what interfacing did you use? Very pretty, the skirt is extremely flattering! Well done as always.

    • Emily | 29th Jul 17

      Hi, Patty! Thank you for your comment, and great question. The fabric is a medium weight, 100% linen. It’s quite substantial and has a lot of volume in it. I use Pellon SF101 White Shape Flex Fusible interfacing. You can find it at JoAnn, and it’s the best interfacing for waistbands I’ve found that isn’t a high end special order kind of thing. I can’t remember a time I haven’t used it on a project. I think for this project it’s the combination of the linen with the interfacing that makes it so nice. Linen is already such a great fabric for nice, crisp edges, but the quality interfacing really makes it a home run. You can read more about the interfacing in this post from March. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Janie | 26th Jul 17

    Hello you took too long to come back. (I know you have a life) lol I so look forward to seeing your makes. They are so well made. You’re going help me up my game. I have this skirt pattern and fell òut of love with before I made it but now I’m in love again. Also, I too will be using the lace on the facing and will let people think I came up with the idea. Can’t wait for your next post.

    • Emily | 29th Jul 17

      Hi, Janie! Thank you for the comment! I’m so glad you love this pattern again. I know exactly what you mean about not loving it at first. And yes, yes, yes, go for the lace! That line made me laugh, so thank you. Have a great weekend!

  3. FoAlexander | 26th Jul 17

    Patiently waiting for the YouTube tutorials ? Lovely as always!

  4. Vanda Kelly | 26th Jul 17

    I was wondering where you disappeared to. That skirt is beautiful, the house is wonderful and Alaska looks amazing. You have a blessed life Mrs. Emily.

    • Emily | 29th Jul 17

      Hi, Vanda! Yes, I’m sorry for the disappearance! I tell you what, searching for and then buying a house is a time consuming endeavor! We’re so excited though, and looking forward to moving in and making the house our own. I have been blessed, you’re right. I’m thankful everyday for all of them!

  5. PsychicSewerKathleen | 26th Jul 17

    Loved your tutorial. You make everything look so EASY 🙂 I especially loved the linen and that bit of lace added to the bottom of your facing (I’m definitely plagiarizing that!) Gorgeous skirt – it’s SO well made! What you would pay a King’s ransom for in a boutique.

    • Emily | 29th Jul 17

      Hi! Thank you for your comment! I’m a softie for details, even details that no one else sees! I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial. And I think you’re right about the skirt being an expensive piece in a boutique. That’s one of the many joys of making your own clothes! This skirt only cost me about $50 in materials. I’ll take that savings any day! 🙂

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