Singer (Non-Template) Buttonhole Attachment

This is a review for the non-template Buttonholer; the old type with the bight, zig zag and buttonhole length adjustable by wing nuts. The stitch length is adjusted by using a screwdriver to turn a pointer from short to long.

The attachment (in its completed state rather than constituent parts) has the part number 86662.

I bought this attachment as I was curious to compare it against the Griest template type attachment I already owned and I further justified its purchase by the additional versatility it offers by allowing you to change the cutting width.

Ideally this should be just wide enough to allow the buttonhole to be cut open without cutting the stitches but not so wide that there is sufficient fabric to fray once this is done. The template style buttonholers do not allow this to be adjusted so on thin fabrics especially it is certainly an advantage to be able to adjust this.

Having said that, because the attachment is indeed so adjustable it is essential to do some test buttonholes on some scraps until you are happy that the cutting width, the bight (zig zag width) and the stitch length are all correct. Having the stitch length correct is worth taking your time over as this is the one which controls how densely the zig zag stitch is created – for thick fabrics which will fray easily you will probably want to have this set to a fairly close stitch but a long zig zag width but for fine fabrics you will need to have the density reduced so that the button hole is soft and not like a solid mass of thread. Unlike the other adjustments which are made by sliding a wing nut, it is adjusted using a screwdriver to move a pointer between L, N and S (long, normal, short).

Once you have made a buttonhole with which you are happy, these adjustments will stay put until you change them so there is no need to recalibrate the settings ahead of each in a long row of buttonholes but it is definitely worth taking the time to do some test pieces first and get this right. It is not idiot proof and if you whack the bight size right up to maximum and the cutting width down to minimum then the two sides of the buttonhole will overlap and you won’t have anywhere to cut the buttonhole open at all!

Use the right needle and thread for the fabric and this will give you as nice a buttonhole as any I’ve seen. The maximum is about 1 1/16″ (the same as the Griest template ones) but it is possible to make them longer by moving the plate forwards before the attachment sews the end bar – there are increments marked on the plate to make it easy to measure by how much you need to move the plate forwards. Full directions for this are given in the instruction leaflet.

Overview of the attachment showing the adjustment screws for bight, cutting width and (the screw in the triangular aperture on the side of the attachment) the stitch length.Photo showing the plate in which the buttonhole is sewn and the small ‘pusher’ which helps push the fabric back flat after each stitch is formed.

Photo showing the buttonhole length adjustment and the wing nut by which the attachment is turned through its stitch cycle.

Photo showing the plate in which the buttonhole is sewn and the small ‘pusher’ which helps push the fabric back flat after each stitch is formed.

Photo showing the resultant buttonhole sewn with an average cutting width on a double thickness of cotton twill curtain lining. This buttonhole has been worked around twice and judging by this photo the machine would have benefited from having the top tension loosened a bit.

Copyright of the blog owner 2010

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Offspring
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 16:54:53

    Hi Judy, like you I had template buttonholers first but found one very good reason for buying a non-template one too: the adjustable cutting width. The bight and the stitch length are obviously adjustable on both types but having this third type of adjustment makes them truly indispensable when sewing fine fabrics. As they offer so much adjustment, they do take a bit more setting up than the template type and also need a few trial runs done on scrap fabric before the perfect combination is found but they do make the most exquisite, dainty and neat buttonholes which look much nicer on the fine fabrics such as batiste that form my usual fabric choices. Thanks for your interest in the blog – I have a big backlog of attachments, feet and books to review here so please pop back soon and I hope you manage to get a good price on a buttonholer. 🙂 x


  2. Judy Pittman
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 12:19:08

    Which buttonholer did you prefer–template or non-template? If I already have several template buttonholers with multiple extra templates (that I love), would there be any benefit to obtaining a non-template buttonholer?


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