Whether it be to fix an accidental rip, replace a zipper, or sew back a button that has flown off to Neverland, my dad was my to-go “tailor.” But when accidentally snagged and pulled the button of my shirt an hour before we had to go to my friend’s baby shower, we knew we had to learn the basics of sewing at least. So if you’re in the same predicament, we’re here to help! Learning how to sew a button isn’t as complicated as you might think.
What You’ll Need
Before you start sewing, you’ll need the following items at hand:
- A slim needle
- A needle threader (optional)
- About 12-24″ of thread, preferably one that matches the color of your garment
- The button you’d like to sew back up
- A pair of scissors
The above supplies can be found online and at your nearest department store. If you’re traveling, you can ask the front desk of the hotel you’re staying at for an emergency sewing kit instead.
How to Sew a Button: A Step-by-Step Guide
Once you have all the tools needed, you’re now ready to sew on a button.
Step 1: Thread the Needle
The first step to sewing on a button is to thread a needle. Cut about 15-20 inches of thread and “double thread” it through your needle. You’ll just simply need to insert the end of the thread through the needle’s eye. Pull it in until it creates a tail, fold it in half, and hold the thread’s ends together. The aim here is to create a thicker thread as a single thread isn’t strong enough to hold a button. If you already use a thick thread, like yarn, you don’t have to double thread it.
TIP: If you’re having a bit of trouble getting the thread through the needle’s eye like we do so often, you can use a needle threader.
Step 2: Tie a Knot
Tie a knot at the far end of the thread you’re working with. This will keep the thread from coming loose and slipping through the garment.
Step 3: Create a Mark
If you’re replacing a button, you’ll be able to see where it was positioned before it was removed. If not, it’s best to mark your garment with a small “x” or dot using a pen. Alternatively, you can push a needle through the fabric to mark the exact spot you’d like to sew in your button.
Step 4: Secure the Thread
Push your needle through the underside of the fabric on top of the mark you’ve previously set. Pull the thread all the way up until the knot is pressed snuggly against the fabric. Cut any excess you may have after you knot your thread. Once you sew your button on, this knot will be hidden.
Step 5: Stitch the Button On
Buttons come in 2 types: flat buttons and shank buttons.
Sewing a Flat Button
Flat buttons are considered to be the most common type of buttons found on clothing. They come with 2 or 4 holes. Unlike shank buttons, flat buttons don’t have anything protruding out of the back. To sew a flat button, you’ll first need to thread the needle up from the garment’s underside and through one of the button’s holes. Pull the thread up until you can’t pull any further. Next, push it down the opposite side of the button, so it sits diagonally across from the first hole. Once done, you’ll be left with a single line connecting both holes. If you’re using a button that has 4 holes, you’ll want to pull the thread through the holes in an “x” or cross pattern. Repeat this process 6-9 times, making sure you pass each hole equally. Your button should hold well when tugged and sit flush against your garment.
Sewing a Shank Button
Instead of passing the needle through the button, you’ll need to pass it through the shank (or hole) underneath the shank button. Just like flat buttons, stitch through the shank a few times until it holds strong and isn’t dangling.
Step 6: Wrap the Thread
This step is optional, but we do recommend it. On the last stitch, push the needle through the fabric from underneath the button. Wrap the needle’s thread around the button anywhere between 3 to 6 times. Pull it tight, dive the needle back into the base, and make 3 or 4 stitches to secure the thread.
Step 7: Tie It Off
At the back of the fabric, make a small knot. Use your needle to guide the thread through the knot until it sits snug against the material. An overhand loop with the needle still connected is the easiest way to tie a knot. To do this, you’ll need to pin the thread against the back of the fabric, make a small loop or circle using the thread, and pass the needle through it. Now pull the thread tight. Repeat this 1 to 3 times. Alternatively, you can tie a knot using your fingers. However, there’s a chance that the button won’t be secure enough if you do so. As such, we recommend you to tie your button off using the overhand loop technique.
Step 8: Cut off the Excess
Cut off the excess from the back of the button once you’ve tied it off. And that’s it! You’ve now successfully sewed in a button.
Learning how to sew a button is one of the most important parts of sewing. You can use the above steps to sew in a button into shirts, skirts, jeans, jackets, and more.
Sewing isn’t a scary task, so don’t be intimidated! Once you understand the basics of sewing, you’ll find it to be a piece of cake.