One of the sexiest details on jeans, is the classic button fly. I won’t link to any steamy commercial spots here; but I will say that if you make button-fly jeans, the pure awesome of it all will (perhaps) make up for the inconvenience when you use the commode. Sure, it puts an extra five minutes into your dressing time – but man. You’re looking goooooood!
And here’s the good news! A button fly is actually a bit easier to sew than a traditional zip fly! (I have demo’d the latter here on the CSC, as well as in my Vado Jean Sew-Along). Today’s button fly tutorial will closely follow the one I put together a couple years ago; so by all means follow along there too if you like.
As complicated as a button fly looks, it really isn’t. The underlap is formed by an extension (shown below, right) that hosts the buttons. You can use traditional jean buttons, set by hammer or press – or you can use sew-on buttons! At the left, you see the overlap, opened. The overlap is constructed with a facing sandwiched under the insert; the insert carries the buttonholes. There are many different variations of button-fly, but this is a simple version for the sake of this tutorial.
Ready! Let’s go!
Just like the zip-fly, there are two pattern pieces that are very important for this closure. The facing piece, and the shield (at the top of the photo, left-to-right). However instead of using the larger piece to make a shield, we’re using it to make a buttonhole insert (note all fabrics are shown right-side up:
Cut from fabric above (left to right) – the facing piece, the two pieces for the insert (if you don’t want a cute contrast insert, use the shield piece to make it from a single fabric, and the two extension pieces. Today’s tutorial will result in the insert’s contrast facing away from the body, and buttons on the right-hand side of the jean:
And remember – I draft these pieces narrower than a 2″ topstitching line, when measured from the raw edge:
Shown below: the pattern’s shield (at right). Not too cute, eh?
Now, for a fly – in general – it’s better to interface than not. The stretchier your fabric, the more you’ll like an interfacing with (a little) stretch. If your fabric has low stretch, you can use a high-quality non-stretch interfacing.
So first, interface the insert pieces and set them aside. Then interface the front of your jean, as well as the facing piece. To interface the fronts, you’ll simply cut the facing shape for the overlap side, and a strip for the other that is 1/2″ wider than the seam allowance (see below). Install the facing-size interfacing to the overlap side, and the strip to the button-side (the right side in our tutorial). This interfacing should extend a seam allowance past the intersection mark.
And shown below, the fly intersection point. Mark it on your trouser fronts, as well as your facing. I used thread tacks:
Now go ahead and chalk your topstitching line on the overlap side. This stitching line will intersect the thread-marked point:
Show below: the chalked topstitching line and, to the right of it, a waist dart:
Time to make up that insert! Place insert pieces right-sides together, and sew along the long edges. Grade and notch:
Turn right-side out:
And then press.
Are you ready for the easiest buttonholes of all time? Of all time?! First, mark your top and bottom buttonhole locations. You want to give yourself a seam allowance + 1/2″ from the top and bottom edge – with the short edge of the buttonhole about 1/4″ from the long straight edge (the long vertical chalked line):
Now, simply use a sewing gauge and mark your evenly-spaced buttonhole locations. I like a total of four buttonholes, for adult-sized pants:
Now, lay this assembly atop some washaway stabilizer – or if you don’t have any, paper will do. Note I will be sewing from the public-side of the insert, for the best-looking buttonholes:
Old-school buttonholer #FTW!
Next, I tear away the stabilizer – here is a buttonhole from the backside:
Time to slice that business open, yo! I use a buttonhole chisel – a lovely and essential (and inexpensive) tool just for this purpose. Then I carefully apply a little fabric glue to the backside, and set the insert aside:
Now, diagonally clip the bottom corner of the facing and finish that long curved edge (as in my zip-fly tutorial) – you can see this at bottom left in the picture below. Finally, stay stitch all the way around the extension’s edges along the seamline. The photo below shows (from left to right) the facing, the completed insert, and the staystitched extension pieces:
Here’s another photo, where it’s easier to see this same set up (note the facing below is not diagonally-clipped yet – this was an earlier tutorial):
It’s time to start putting things together! Stay stitch the crotch curve of the trouser on the extension side (the right-side, in this tutorial):
And now pin both extension pieces to this trouser front, making sure the curved edges of these pieces are pointing toward the side seam, and the extension pieces are sandwiching the pant front right-sides together:
Now sew – Carefully! – from the raw waist edge, down to that marked intersection. Firmly backstitch. Clip the entire seam allowance perpendicular to the intersection point, and grade the seam you just sewed:
Now this part is tricky – but results in a gorgeous, clean-finish extension (as shown below). (This is also why you want to draft a fly that’s not too narrow, or you won’t be able to do this next bit without crying.)
So, flip the extension pieces right-sides together, pin, and very slowly sew right over your stay-stitching. You will be scrooching some trouser front piece in between the extension pieces, and this is fiddly and awkward – but the only tricky part of the fly. If you don’t like how this is going, fine. You can simply flip the extension pieces wrong-sides together and finishing their long curved edge with zig-zag, serge, bias-binding, turned-and-topstitched (like this pair), or stitch-and-pink.
But below, I’ll be showing you my favorite – the clean finish.
Make sure to set a short stitch length for this bit!
I didn’t even TRY to get a picture of the rumply velveteen before I turned the extension out. Here’s a picture of the denim version. It is really oooooogly:
But! Once you turn it right-side out and press it – you get this!
You did it!
OK. Set that side aside. Time to install the facing! Stitch – you got it – right-sides together, from the raw waist edge to the intersection point, backstitching firmly:
(See why I like to cut and finish that facing piece, before applying it? SO nice!)
And clip the trouser front seam allowance perpendicular, right to that intersection point.
Now – as with the zip-fly – grade the seam, and press the seam allowance and facing away from the trouser. Topstitch 1/8″ to 1/16″ from the seam you just sewed:
Now fold the facing back against the wrong-side of the trouser:
Next, pin the insert to this faced edge, from the right-side, and right along the topstitch line. The curve of the insert will run parallel to that of the stitching line. Here’s how this will look from the public side of the pants:
And here’s the underside. You want to make sure your topstitching will be catching the edge of the insert, but not sewing over any buttonholes.
Here’s another picture – you want that insert recessed just a bit from the folded faced edge (hard to see in the above picture):
Lay the pant from together, making sure everything is looking good…
Then flip the pants right-sides together. You’ll be sewing from the intersection point down the crotch curve, but not quite to the inseam (just like our zip-fly):
Here you see this crotch seam “butterflied” open. You can finish any way you like (I wait to finish this seam after I’ve completed the entire crotch curve, later in the trouser).
Flip the seam to right side up, and topstitch! Looking sooooo good! And at the bottom of the topstitch, leave long tails.
Pull the tails to the wrong side, knot, and hide them within the insert. Use a little fabric glue on this knot, if ya like.
At this point you can also install a bar-tack – similar to what we did for our zip fly. I did not install one on the velveteen trouser – but below is one on jeans jean. The bar-tack provides structural support at the base of the fly. To make things extra tidy, pull the tails to the backside, knot, and hide the tails in the insert:
Can you believe you’re almost done?
Time to install those buttons. EASY-PEASY! Simply close the fly, and drive an awl or pin through the buttonholes – about 1/8″ from the buttonhole edge – and use that position to install your buttons!
After pockets, inseams, and outseams – your jeans are ready for their waistband!
Seriously. How great are you?
As always, if you have any questions please post them! And I hope you have a great time with your jean-making!