Friday, June 12, 2015

• Keyhole Tutorial •

Hurrah! Hurrah! I'm finally posting the long-awaited keyhole tutorial!
Every time I wanted to photograph the making of a keyhole on a dress I was sewing, I ended up doing something differently or being in too much of a hurry to be able to do so. But my current sewing project (a gorgeous striped 1940s dress) ended up being the perfect opportunity to photograph my keyhole-making method.

You will need the back bodice piece of what you're sewing and a back facing piece to match. Interface the back facing piece and finish the bottom edge.

You'll also need a bias-cut loop piece measuring 1" x 1 3/4".

Sew the loop with right sides together, stretching it as you sew and keeping the folded edge even with the edge of your presser foot. You may want to backstitch just a couple of stitches as you start so you have a secure thread tail to pull later.

Once the loop is sewn together, use a big-eye needle to pull the starting-end thread tails through the loop and turn it. Press the loop piece and shape it into a loop.

Mark the center line of your back facing piece on the interfaced (wrong) side. Mark how long you want your keyhole to be (mine is 4 1/2" long) and make a dot on either side of your center line at the bottom end, almost 1/8" away on each side.

On the neck edge, mark a little line to note where your seam allowance is. Mine is 3/8", but be sure to read your pattern to see what yours should be. Make a dot 1/4" away from the center line on each side, even with your seam allowance. This is where you will pivot when you sew the keyhole.

Now, using a ruler, connect the dots!

The next step is to baste the loop onto your back bodice piece (see note below), having the raw edges even with the center line, and making sure the top edge of the loop is close to but not over the seam allowance. The picture above illustrates where your loop is.

Note: As I was sewing my keyhole, I kept getting the feeling that I was forgetting something. I was. I completely forgot to baste my loop onto my back bodice before sewing the keyhole together! Fortunately, it doesn't require much unpicking when you do that, so I was able to fix it quite easily. However, it's always best to do things the right way, so...don't do what I did! ;)

Next, pin your facing onto the bodice and start sewing!

When you reach the first dot at the top of the keyhole, pivot and start down your marked line.

When you get to the bottom, pivot on the dot again and change your stitch length down to about 2 (smaller than you have been sewing). Stitch to the other dot, pivot, and change your stitch length back up to where it was. Continue sewing up the keyhole in the same manner.

Hurrah! You're nearly there!

Next, snip down the center line marking to the end stitches, snipping very close to but not through them. Make a tiny diagonal cut towards the corner (like you'd do on a bound buttonhole) on each side. 

Notch the curves of the neck edge and clip the corners of the keyhole edge as shown.

Fraycheck the bottom end of the keyhole, putting a goodly amount on but not so much that it runs beyond your stitching lines. Allow to dry.

Turn the facing to the inside, press, and you're done!!

Inside view. 

I'm so glad to finally have this tutorial done; I apologize for taking so long to get to it! This seems to be one of the busiest times of the year around here (hence the missed post on Monday), but it's starting to be a little less hectic, thankfully. I'll be back on Monday!
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  1. This is brilliant, Esther - you're so precise and neat! I'll be sure to use it sometime. :D

    1. Oh, thank you, Ellie!! That's one thing I never would have thought I'd hear, at least in days gone by. Thank you! :)

  2. Very nice result. Practical and a very pretty feature! Well done on such an accurate finish!

  3. Hi Esther! FINALLY!!! I've been eagerly watching your blog for this very post after inquiring about it earlier this year. No worries about "just" getting to it, trust me, I know what having life full and busy is :), but I was just so happy to see this today! I've been kind of stalling on sewing some much-needed basic summer blouses until I saw how you did this. Just yesterday I looked at the little pile and thought, well, I'd best be getting to them, new techniques or not. But I didn't have time, for which I am really grateful for today! :) I have always seen (and sewn) keyholes by slicing the fabric and putting in a binding strip, etc. It turns out decent but not nearly as smooth as yours. Now I know how you get them to turn out SO nicely! It's not a bound edge at all. I can't wait to try this.

    You wrote a very clear, detailed tutorial....good job! And I just had to smile extra big, cause I have nearly identical fabric in my stash....the only difference is mine has a blue stripe, and it is destined for my next Civil War dress (the first new one in 15 years!). I dream of getting to sew it, but other projects call for many months yet. :)

    Blessings to you this Friday!

    SARAH A.
    PS. I don't have a blog, but I do have an Etsy shop, PrairieRoseSewing, and a Facebook page by the same name if you'd want to look. I sew and sell modest clothing for girls and ladies, and often put pictures of both sewing and cooking projects on the Facebook page. ;) It has been fun discovering your blog as well as a few other sewing-related ones. Good encouragement and inspiration!

    1. Yayy!! I know, finally is right! I apologize for having taken forever to post this! I'm so glad it got to you just in the nick of time. :)
      I checked out your Etsy shop and I love it! :)
      I can't wait to see your Civil War dress!
      Thanks so much for commenting, Sarah!!

    2. Well, I got sidetracked once again (making a sweet dress for my "adopted" niece's 7th birthday gift) but will let you know how my blouse turns out using this technique. It's all pinned and ready for tomorrow, hopefully! :) Thanks for checking out my shop, and I'm glad to hear you liked it. I'll be adding several more girls skirt soon. Refashions, most of them. I also like your shop! I was excited for you when you opened it. How is it going? I love having an Etsy shop. Ah, yes, the Civil War will be a long time in coming, but I'll let you know when it's done and will definitely have pictures to share. :) Blessings to you this week!


  4. Wonderful tutorial, sweet dear, thank you so much for sharing. That charming floral print fabric is immensely pretty!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! I hope to have the dress posted soon.

  5. Thank you for sharing this tutorial! Keyholes are always a pretty detail, and I can't wait to try this out someday. ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. Thank you, Bonita! I'm so glad it's useful!

  6. Thank you very much for sharing this! It is actually exactly what I was looking for, I recently attempted a keyhole opening and, well, it worked but is pretty improvised... so great to see how this is supposed to be done :-)

  7. Beautiful tutorial! Makes me want to learn how to sew! :)

  8. Thank you so much for this detailed keyhole instructions. So glad I found your blog as I am making a knit top with a keyhole opening!


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