Today I’d like to show you a basic skill that I firmly believe EVERYONE (yes men, especially you!!) should know how to accomplish… sewing a button!! We’ve all experienced the woes of buying a new shirt or jacket to find out that after one wear or wash, one of our lovely matching buttons has magically detached itself from its proper place. This is sadly due to the fact that most ready-to-wear (store-bought) garments have buttons that were sewn on by machine, which is an efficient, inexpensive way to go, but not nearly as sturdy as good old-fashioned hand sewing. 

When people learn that I make my own clothes, many respond by saying they’ve never sewn anything in their life! It is a dying skill set that is clearly not shown the same respect of our grandparent’s generation. My hope is to show those of you that haven’t ever picked up a needle and thread how easy it is to learn some basic sewing skills. I guarantee you will wish you knew this at some point in your life, at least to spare you from throwing out a perfectly good shirt that is missing a single button!

Nowadays, most clothes you buy with buttons come with a few spares handy. You’ve no doubt seen these attached in a little ziplock to the tags or sewn to the labels inside. Save these buttons – DO NOT throw them away!!!! Keep them with your jewelry, or your cuff-links. I will show you two examples in the videos below, sewing a flat button (the type on my blue plaid shirt) and sewing a shank button (the type on my red wool coat).For this project you will need:

  • Sewing needle
  • Matching thread (or similar color)
  • Button
  • Scissors

If you do not have any extra buttons, you can easily find a close match. I have been hoarding buttons for years and keep them all in a tin for this very purpose. Since I didn’t have a matching one for my shirt, I found one that was a close enough below.Step 1 – Thread your needle and knot the end. If you have trouble with how to create the knot, refer to the following video. I simply wrap the end around my index finger, roll between my index and thumb, and then slide the loop formed between my fingers to the end of the thread, creating a knot. Do not worry if this is messy/loopy. It will be hidden underneath the button anyways! I usually double up my thread and knot both ends together, unless I’m using a thicker thread. Here are the two versions:

Pardon the background music… I acquired a bunch of classical records from my grandparents recently. This is “The Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi!

Step 2 – Line up your buttons and buttonholes to determine where your button needs to be placed. Insert needle in the center of this and come out just a millimeter or so from where you inserted. Pull thread through to the end.Step 3 – Pass needle through on hole on your button from the underside to the top. Then come back down through the hole directly opposite. You should have a diagonal line of thread across your button. If you’re sewing a 2-hole and not a 4-hole button, just sew through the two holes you have. Now insert your needle back where you started by the knot and come out again a millimeter away. When you pull this snug, your button should be firmly held against the fabric.Step 4 – Repeat this process 2-3 times through the SAME holes and then when your needle is underneath the button, switch to the other two holes. Your end result will form a little “x” of stitching on the button.Step 5 – Once you’ve sewn through 2-3 times each direction, your button should be pretty firmly attached. If you are sewing a rather large button, you may need more passes to secure it down. Now we will knot off the end to keep it from unraveling! Hold the thread with your index finger while wrapping around the outside of the button (see video). Then pass the needle through the loop on your index finger and pull tightly. This forms a little knot around the stitching, under the button. Repeat this at least 3 times. If you feel it is secure, you can cut your thread off now! Another option is to catch a few threads under the button with the needle and pull through till you have a small loop, then pass your need through again and pull tight. Snip close to the knot and voila!!

Here is a video of me sewing on a flat button as described above:

Lastly, here is a demonstration of how to sew on a shank button. These types of buttons have little loops coming off the bottom and no holes on top. The process is very much the same as above, but you only need to secure the one loop down to the fabric.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions in the field below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe above to my blog for updates on my new posts!

Thanks for watching & happy buttoning!

Maggie Jean