33 Steps and One Secret to Sewing on a Button

Sew on a Button with a Thread Shank

 

33 Steps–That got your attention.

Actually, it may be that many, as have tried to include all the tips and tricks I’ve accumulated.  And want this to be the be-all, end-all button sewing tutorial.

Sewing on a button isn’t difficult but it seems to be the ‘bugaboo’ of all sewing tasks.  Have you ever babied a dangling button just to avoid having to sew it back on?  Well, here’s the scoop on sewing on buttons that will always look good and last.

Just remember the following Secret and Tip:

 

A Thread Shank is the Number One Secret

That’s the extra thread between the button and the fabric that provides room for the correct seating of the buttonhole under the button.  A thread shank is absolutely necessary for thick fabrics but is even advantageous for shirts and blouses.  The shank also is a strong attachment as it is firmly wrapped with thread providing strength through more thread and more abrasion resistance.  Abrading of the thread is the #1 cause of missing buttons; the buttonhole moves back and forth under the button as the garment is worn, buttoned and unbuttoned.

No. 1 Tip for Sewing on Buttons

Do not use knots–at beginning or end of stitching.  Typical place for knots is on the wrong side; it’s just going to rub off during wear, and pretty soon the button is loose/lost.

Knots under the button get in the way of the shank, plus they too rub off due to abrasion from the buttonhole.

 

Tools

Tools

Tools

  1. 3″-4″scissors with sharp points; easy to get in tight spaces and nip threads
  2. Beeswax; this comes in a holder that separates threads for complete coating.  Wax strengthens the thread, prevents knotting, eases needle threading.  You can also use it to improve the glide on dresser drawers.
  3. Seam Gauge with Button Spacer
  4. Sharps Large Eye Hand Sewing Needles.  Sharps are an all-purpose needle with a round eye for easy threading.  The larger the size number the thinner the needle shaft.  For thick or stiff fabrics, a size from 1-4 means a thicker shaft that won’t bend/break when pulled thru the fabric.  An assortment of sizes in the 5-10 range will provide needles for most hand sewing needs.
  5. Thread–all-purpose polyester thread has high breakage and abrasion resistance–the button hole edges will rub on the thread.  Use a double strand of thread so less stitches are needed to secure button; 3-5 stitches through the holes is sufficient, any more and it just looks messy.
  6. Fray Check/Seam Sealant secures thread ends and fabric fraying.  It is washable and dry cleanable.

 


Button Sewing by Hand

sewing on a button

Draw thread over beeswax separating strands for full coverage.

 

Sewing on a button

Thread needle with Double Strand Thread with loop and two cut ends

 

Sewing on a button

Take one small stitch; leave loop on top; insert needle thru loop

Sewing on a button

Anchor thread by tugging thread snug thru loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button

Insert button spacer(s) under button holes. Stitch thru button holes 3-5 times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button

View between button and fabric with button spacer in place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button

Wrap thread tightly around shank 3-5 times

Sewing on a button

Draw needle thru thread shank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button

Create loop and draw needle thru loop

Sewing on a button

Draw needle thru shank from bottom to top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button

Trim thread leaving short ends–a little extra thread can’t hurt just in case ends do want to work out.

sewing on button

Dot threads with Fray Check or clear nail polish for extra security.

Button Sewing by Machine

Only buttons with holes can be sewn by machine; buttons with integrated shanks must be sewn by hand.

Bernina and other brands of sewing machines have specific presser feet for sewing on buttons.  It even has a pin to sew over thus making a thread shank.                                            I don’t have one so make do with the #20 Bernina open toe presser foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Feed Dog. The Feed Dog is what grips the bottom of the fabric and moves it under the needle. Lowering the Dogs, keeps the fabric stationary so zigzag stitches can go back and forth between the button hole

Lower Feed Dog. The Feed Dog is what grips the bottom of the fabric and moves it under the needle. Lowering the Dogs, keeps the fabric stationary so zigzag stitches can go back and forth between the button holes

sewing on a button

Take one stitch in fabric and pull up bobbin thread. Arrange both threads to one side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Position button and button spacer under presser foot.

Position button and button spacer under presser foot.

IMG_1799

Set zigzag stitche width to zero–see stitch width indicator upper right above. Stitch 2-3 times in one button hole to anchor threads.

 

 

Set stitch width to 3-4–wide enough for needle to zigzag across both holes. Zigzag 3-4 times. Anchor as for first button hole.

sewing on button by machine

Cut thread leaving a long tail–12-15″. Tug upper thread (orange) to pull up bobbin thread loop(white).  Both threads should be under button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sewing on button by machine

Wrap threads around shank and finish as in Hand Sewn Button

sewing on button

Dot threads with Fray Check or clear nail polish for extra security.

 

 

 

Sewing on a Button that has an Integrated Shank

Buttons with integrated shanks are more common on large buttons suitable for coats.  They still need a thread shank which provides strength and abrasion resistance.  The tightly wrapped shank is stronger than just several thread loops through the button shank.

sewing on button with integrated shank

Resin button with embedded metal loop, aka Shank

Button sewing with integrated shank

Anchor thread; fold fabric at button placement; stitch thru fold and button shank. Insert toothpick spacer under button shank and take 3-4 more stitches. A needle-nose pliers is a help in grasping needle in tight spaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button sewing with integrated shank

Remove toothpick spacer; wrap thread around thread shank and secure as for Hand Sewn/Machine Sewn Button.

button sewing with integrated shank

Ta-Da

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, this is absolutely Everything you need to know to successfully sew on buttons that will stay sewn!

Related

Not Just Any Seam Gauge

 

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