One-Step Buttonhole vs Four-Step: What Is The Difference?

Making sewing easier is what sewing machines are all about. They come with some unique features as well as a myriad of stitch patterns, and other functions. All these features are built into the machine so you can have better results without doing all the hard work.

The difference can be found right in the labels for each feature. The former option does buttonholes in one step while the sewing machines with the latter option need 4 steps and your permission to make a buttonhole.

To learn more about these two features, just continue to read our article. It gives you all the information you need to know about this topic. Take a few minutes and see what the difference is and how it can help you in your sewing projects.

What is 1 Step Buttonhole?


This is where the buttonhole is made by the sewing machine without stopping. It completes the task without taking a break and makes sure the buttonhole looks good. That is all there is to it.

This feature makes doing buttonholes on shirts and dresses simple and very easy. If you are the type of person who loses a lot of buttons throughout the year, you really can’t afford to be without this function.

The setup is simple and for some machines, you may need a buttonhole foot where you insert the button at the rear. Then the foot handles the placement of the button and the needle handles the thread.

Having a buttonhole feature is very handy as it will save you a lot of time and work. Plus, it will be easy on your hands if you are the type of person who sews buttons and buttonholes by hand.

The best thing to do is make a comparison of the sewing machines that have this feature and see which one operates the best. That way you may get a better price for a machine that has this feature built-in.

What Does a 4-step Buttonhole Mean?

The 4 step buttonhole feature is as it says. The sewing machine takes 4 steps to make the same type of buttonhole. The only drawback to this feature is that it will stop from time to time and wait for you to give it permission to do the next step.

For example, once the machine has done the first side, it stops until you tell it to do the top. Then it will stop again until you tell it to do the other side and finally, it will stop at the end of that side until you tell it to finish the bottom of the hole.

This is not adding any work for you to do but it does let you remain in control and monitor how the buttonhole is looking. Some people may find this annoying but it depends on who you are and how involved you like to be.

The main drawback to this feature is that it does not always make all the buttonholes look the same. That is a weakness that has been complained about by some sewers who may be perfectionists or just want a great even look to their clothing item.

What is the Difference Between 1 Step and 4-step Buttonhole?


The physical difference has already been mentioned. One sewing machine will handle this task in one giant step, while the other will take 4 steps to get the same hole completed.

The latter option does allow for an unseen difference. In the 1 step process, you really have no control over the buttonhole-making process. You set the machine and program the hole and then sit back and watch. If there is a problem, then it is hard to interfere and correct it before the sewing machine finishes the hole.

With the 4 step option, you get to examine each side before the machine continues on. This allows you more control, (the unseen difference), over the buttonhole process and should allow you to make any corrections before the buttonhole is completed.

These are about the only 2 real differences you will find between these two options. The machine does the work for you in both cases and tries to make sure the stitches are just right. However, the 4 step process may not be perfect as it is said to be inconsistent when it makes multiple buttonholes.

When you are out shopping for a new machine, test drive those sewing machines with both options so you can see which one is best for you.

One-step Buttonhole vs Four-step

The answer to this issue will be up to your preference and the amount of time you actually need buttons sewn onto a shirt or a dress, etc. It will also depend a lot on your sewing experience.

For example, a novice may prefer the one-step as they are not at the level of making their own buttonholes and can rely on the machine to make sure theirs is looking professional. A more experienced sewer may prefer the 4 step simply because they know what they want and it is easier to control the 4 step process.

Then if you do not do a lot of sewing projects that require buttons, you may want the 1 step sewing machine because it is just easier and faster to do those holes when they are called for by the pattern. Let the machine handle the tough sewing tasks so you can concentrate on other parts of your sewing project.

The time it takes for either option to make a buttonhole may have an insignificant amount of difference so timing is saved either way. As long as you are not doing these holes by hand, either option will be good to use.

What is the Best Sewing Machine for Buttonholes?


The one that doesn’t make mistakes and screw up. That may seem a bit outlandish to say but these issues to occur and sewing machines will mess up due to a variety of reasons. Those machines that do not get off track will be the best ones to use.

In practical applications, the one-step may be the best sewing machine for this task. Not only does it save you a lot of time when sewing buttons, it usually is very consistent with its results.

Consistency is the key when you are making a shirt or dress, etc., that has a lot of buttons on it. You want the end result to look perfect and the one-step process is the one to achieve that result.

This is not to say that the four-step option is inconsistent all the time. There may be some brands that have conquered this issue. But judging from the complaints, there are still some sewing machines with the four-step process that can’t reach the consistent result objective.

When you are a novice, the 1 step may be the perfect option for you until you gain more experience and refine your skills a bit more.

4 Step Buttonhole Sewing Machine

To start off, the best might as well be first. The Bernina 215 is a computerized sewing machine made for the beginner. It has the 4 step buttonhole option as well as 11 built-in stitches. The compact design fits into small places.

Then there is the Janome HD1000 and along with the 4 step function, it has 14 built-in stitch patterns so you can be a little creative as you work. Plus, it works with all levels of fabrics from light to heavy with no problem.

Not to be left out of the 4 step buttonhole market, Singer’s HD 4511 carries this option along with 69 stitch patterns to choose from. Its motor is said to be very good and should last you a long time.

Babylock is also producing 4 step buttonhole sewing machines and its BL20A Anna is one such model. It also has a 15 stitch pattern feature and a drop-in bobbin. Check for availability though.

Then the Brother XM 1010 is another fine product that is also very portable. Its 4 step buttonhole function should be easy to use and has 10 stitch patterns to work with. Lots of accessories are included in your purchase.

How do You do a Four-Step Buttonhole?


The first step in this process is to know what style of buttonhole you want to make. Not all machines will give you options and may only leave you with the traditional rectangle design.

The second step will be to test the buttonhole by using a scrap of the same fabric with a stabilizer underneath. Then the third step has you placing the button you want on your shirt into the buttonhole foot.

This foot should have a sensor that helps design the hole that is best for your button. After this, you attach the foot to your machine and pull the buttonhole lever down. Next, pick your buttonhole and set your fabric in place.

You may have to handwheel the needle down to a point where it is touching the fabric where you want the buttonhole to start. make sure to align the fabric so the hole will be straight.

Once all that is done, you can start sewing by using your foot controller or the start button on your machine. You will have to turn the selector to each position before the machine will start the next portion of the hole.

For the ends, you may only need to sew 6 stitches while the sides get a few more than that. Remember to slow down as you get close to the ends and stop on your marks. Leave long tails of thread at the back so you can tie the stitches in place.

To make more than one hole, lift the presser foot and simply move the fabric till the new location is under the needle and in the right position.

To open the buttonhole, you can use a seam ripper or a buttonhole opener set. The latter is a chisel and a block of wood but it is said that this tool gives you the best cut possible. Make sure to pin the inner ends of the buttonhole so you do not cut the stitches.

One-Step Buttonhole Machines

Sewing buttonholes on garments is one of the tougher and more important tasks you have to do. It can be a pain at times but with the one-step buttonhole sewing machines, you do not have to do much work.

Singer and Brother seem to be leading the way when it comes to producing and developing this feature on their many sewing machine models. The best one may be the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 and it is a computerized machine.

Then the Brother CS6000i comes in as a close second with its many stitch patterns that make creative sewing a possibility. These two companies seem to produce a few models that have made the top best lists, elbowing out their competition.

You should find good one-step buttonhole sewing machines from Juki, Bernina, Janome, and others. Those companies strive hard to provide you with the best possible sewing machine like Singer, etc., does.

Some Final Words

When it comes to buttonholes, sometimes it is best to let the machine handle the task. These can be a bit difficult to do for novice sewers and having the right machine to help you should build your confidence.

Whether you use a one-step or a four-step process only matters to you and the amount of time you have for sewing. Both are good functions and help you make the perfect buttonhole each time.

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