Pattern making for front openings : 1. zip, button band

Have a woven tee pattern and want to make a blouse ?
Have a pullover layering pattern and want to make a jacket ?
Have a sweatshirt pattern and want to make a zippered hoodie ?
Have a personal bodice block and looking for easy open-front options to make with it ?

As often with my posts, my post on closed-to-open-front pattern changes kept expanding. Which is why I said years ago I was going to write one and never got down to it. . . I’ve been thinking about it ever since I wrote a post on converting open-front-to-closed !

This is the first in a group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band (this post)
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

There are many little design decisions to make. If you’re not sure what to do – have a look at RTW – snoop shop and clothes you own – and see how they deal with it. They can be a marvellous resource for making, as well as something to wear 😀 Best to snoop shop at high end. Cheap clothing lines use least materials and quickest sewing, and home sewists usually haven’t got to do that.

Pattern skills :
– draw the fold lines, stitch lines, cut lines on pattern paper or fabric at specific spacings,
– understand different types and widths of bands.

Starter pattern :
Front pattern piece with centre front line CF marked from neck to waist/hip.

No need to draw or even have your own block.
Pattern making courses and text books tell you how to draw your own starter pattern, called a ‘block’. Then how to alter it to make other styles.
But the two stages are separate. You can start your pattern alterations from any pattern piece. Best to use ones with few style elements, or something in common with the style you want to make.

Other tools :
– fabric marker.
– a quilter’s 6×24 ruler makes it easy to mark lines at measured distances apart.

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Edge-to-edge opening

Basically : cut down CF and finish the edges with plain bands, binding, double fold hem, or ribbon.
To add a facing instead, see post on combined facing to front edge and neckline.

Exposed open ended / separating zip

McCall’s 7026

Fabric marking

Instead of placing pattern centre front on a fabric fold – add seam allowances to centre front.
Seam allowance width = width of (zip tape + teeth).

half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole

No need to make a special pattern piece.
Place the front pattern away from the edge of the fabric, and use a marking tool and ruler to draw the cutting line onto the fabric. At the seam allowance width from the CF line.


video tutorial from Professor Pincushion

For a quality inside finish, cover the edge of seam allowance and zip tape with bias binding.

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Button bands

Two main methods of adding a cut-on button band, with a single fold or a double fold to the inside.
If your fabric is the same both sides, you can double fold to the outside.
Or add a separate band, perhaps in contrast fabric.

Choose your buttons first, as the pattern making usually depends on what size they are.

Buttons are usually placed on the Centre Front line. There’s usually an extension beyond that to support buttons and buttonholes. The extension is usually 1 button width.
That means the two fronts overlap by 2x button width.

You can of course use any size button with any width extension, but some combinations look odd. If you use different sizes – best to check the result is what you want before making the final garment.

There are surprisingly many features of an opening which relate to the button size used, so with commercial patterns it’s best to use the button size in the instructions.

Buttonhole angle is also a design decision. Blouses/ shirts/ dresses often have vertical buttonholes, with a horizontal buttonhole at the neckline. While jackets/ coats usually have all horizontal buttonholes.
Best to use horizontal buttonholes in positions which take extra strain, or where the garment may be buttoned/ unbuttoned frequently.

If you’d like detailed photo instructions on sewing these, try this post from SewAndrew.

Button band with single fold – like a cut-on facing

Vogue 9258

Fabric marking


Beyond the CF line on the pattern :
– measure width of front extension beyond CF – this is a design choice but is usually the width of button used.
– mark fold line.
– measure width for fold back, usually 2x button width.
– measure added amount for inner edge finish, usually up to seam allowance width.
– mark cutting line.


Add interfacing onto the fold line and fold back section, to support the fold and the buttons and buttonholes.
Finish the cut edge.
The ‘facing’ is held in place by the buttons and buttonholes.

Button band with double fold – like a hem

Fabric marking


Beyond the pattern CF :
– measure extension beyond CF – width of button.
– mark fold line.
– measure width of first fold back – 2x width of button.
– mark fold line.
– measure width of fold inside band – 2 options :
. . . . . seam allowance or less.
. . . . . 2x width of button again – so there’s a 3rd layer of fashion fabric giving extra support to buttons, instead of interfacing.
– mark cutting line.


It’s easy to sew a lovely straight line using an edge stitch foot on your machine, I think that’s my favourite extra foot !
Several ways of sewing this band.

One line of stitching

Here are 2 photo tutorials on this :
100 Acts of Sewing uses edge fold 1/4″ wide, main fold 1″ wide.


Lauren Guthrie has both folds full width.
She describes a back opening, but use the same method for a centre front opening.

Top-stitch along both folds

Seen more on shirts. This one has the band folded to the outside.

from Kwik Sew 4075

Separate band

Butterick 6465 by Connie Crawford

Pattern for band may be wider to make the added strip a special feature.

Typical pattern strip width :
s/a, 2-3 x button width, 2-3 x button width, s/a


Same length as front edge.

Front edge of main pattern piece
You’ve added to the front width by adding on the band,
so need to reduce the width at CF by half the finished width of the band.


You could draw folding, stitching, cutting lines direct on the fabric.
But you may feel more confident if you try them out on paper first.
Fold up the band pattern and hold it up on you – does the width look right ?


video from Professor Pincushion

She finishes the band by hand, using ladder stitch.
Alternative : fold the band so the edge is a smidge past the attachment seam, and machine stitch in the ditch from the right side.

Button placement

Put one button at bust point level, and spread the others out from there.
Easiest to space them evenly.

Have the garment made up enough for you to try it on.
Look in a mirror and place pins in the band where you want the buttons.
Top button – at the neck, or placed for the effect you want.
Lowest button – best to place this above your ‘hip break’ line or your top-of-sitting-thigh level, so it isn’t strained when you sit down.
(I would put the bottom of a zip here too.)

Button numbers and spacing are design decisions, for example you can put them in groups of 2 or 3, or at random spacing.
Or how about every button different ! Then the extension width to use is a judgement call, perhaps the average size.

– – –

All week I’ve been adding little comments about how to finish the neckline of a front band top. And extras you can add to your button band top.
This post got much too long, so I’ve separated off those comments.
Here’s the supplement post.

Start with the simplest, if like me you get overwhelmed by too many options.
Enjoy the process and celebrate what you make 😀

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Originally written December 2018, links checked February 2021

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