How to Sew a Button Perfectly Every Time

comments (7) November 1st, 2013     

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Shannon_Dennis Shannon Dennis, contributor
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I like to use fusible knit interfacing for sewing buttons, even with cottons. Don’t forget a little pair of scissors.
Step 2: Place the flexible end of the needle threader through
the eye of the needle. Thread this flexible end; then gently pull the
needle threader through the eye of the needle!
Step 3: You can also take one stitch in and out of the fabric to anchor your thread before taking this first stitch.
I like to use fusible knit interfacing for sewing buttons, even with cottons. Don’t forget a little pair of scissors.

I like to use fusible knit interfacing for sewing buttons, even with cottons. Don’t forget a little pair of scissors.

Photo: Shannon Dennis

There are some fantastic buttons out there these days, and with all the applications in garments as well as crafting, quilting and paper crafts, they are a universal embellishment. If you have some time, here is a link to the history of the button . Reading about buttons and their history helped me to appreciate even more the decorative and embellishment opportunities that these fasteners have. Let's start off with the basics.

Things You'll Need:

A scrap of fabric,

A scrap of fusible interfacing

A two or four holed button

Some cotton thread

A hand sewing needle.

  I like to use fusible knit interfacing for sewing buttons, even with cottons. Don't forget a little pair of scissors.

Most people would simply thread the needle and go to town sewing that button on. However, with expert sewing comes expert prepping and although I try to cut corners sometimes in my sewing there are some things you don't want to miss out on doing….like pressing…thanks, mom.

Step 1: To build a good foundation for our buttons to rest on, we are going to fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric scrap, just as we would our project.

Step 2: Thread your needle with your cotton thread. A little pointer, use the needle threader included in nearly all of your hand sewing needles! No more squinting!

  Place the flexible end of the needle threader through the eye of the needle. Thread this flexible end then gently pull the needle threader through the eye of the needle! Waalaa!

Note: For this posting I am using a contrasting thread (brown) to help you see the process. When you are sewing a button on you will usually want to have thread that coordinates with your fabric. I have most often doubled my thread to make sewing a button on a quicker process. I'm not super crazy about hand sewing When you're working on thinner fabrics or an heirloom type of project use a single strand so your button isn't bulky. Recently though, I found this great Coats & Clark thread. It is in their Dual Duty line but is called XP Heavy and is specific for buttons and topstitching. So now I don't have to double thread!

Step 3: Whichever style you choose, knot your thread on the bottom and starting from the wrong side of your scrap fabric bring the needle through to the top of the fabric and through one of the holes of your button.

  You can also take one stitch in and out of the fabric to anchor your thread before taking this first stitch.

Step 4: Direct your needle down through the second hole and through the fabric to the wrong side of the scrap fabric again. For a two hole button, repeat this 3-5 times with a double thread and 5-7 times with a single thread. For a four hole button, repeat this 2-4 times in each hole set.

  When you use a more secure thread, like the suggested Dual Duty XP, you will have this step done in no time. Thicker thread, when used on sturdier fabric will only need 2-3 stitches.

Step 5: You can create a super-secure button finish by coming from the wrong side of the fabric up towards the button but not through any of the holes. Wrap your thread around the threads securing the button to the fabric about 3 times. Go back down into the fabric to the wrong side. Knot off and trim your thread! This button is on there for good!

  The number one reason that buttons easily fall off of ready-to-wear garments' is that they don't do this last step!

Now let's move onto shank buttons. Shank buttons are excellent for thicker projects. Beautiful wool jackets, tweed suits, leather purses or just about anything with a loft or a great thickness of fabric

Thing's You'll Need:

A scrap of fabric

A scrap of interfacing

A shank button

Step 1: Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric as you did for the two-hole and four-hole button.

Step 2: Using a double or single threaded needle start from the wrong side of your fabric and bring the needle through the shank of the button to the right side of the fabric.

  Start on the wrong side of your fabric and bring the needle through the shank of your button through to the right side.

The trick when sewing on shank buttons is to not pull the thread too tight. You actually want a little space between the shank and the fabric.

  Do not pull the thread too tight and be sure to leave a little space. This will help the button float above the lofty fabric a little and not create that "squeeze bulge" effect.

Step 3: Repeat the stitching 5-6 times and finish with the needle on the wrong side of the fabric. Knot off and clip your threads!

  In just three short steps you have sewn in a perfectly secure button.
posted in: button, fusible knit interfacing, handsewing, shank buttons

Comments (7)

JAABA writes: OOPS, forgot! Isabella, there are leather needles available for hand and machine sewing that will make your replacement button and other leather projects much easier. You might want to have a small pliers handy too if you should have trouble pulling the needle through the leather. However, try to use the same old holes in the leather rather than making a new puncture and weakening the leather. If you do damage the leather you can mend very effectivly with rubber cement.
Posted: 7:14 am on April 8th
JAABA writes: Very good instuction and comments. Please, if you are sewing a button on leather or any heavy fabric use a backer button. The heavy thread is not enough. Also the good advise to not pull the thread tightly is very important. On these garments it is best to leave an eighth of an inch of thread on the right side of the fabric to form a shank with tightly wrapped thread. The heavy fabric of the buttonhole side will then float rather than be pulled in. I even put a short thread shank on a shank button to give more strength on heavy garments. I owned a sewing business for 30 years and couldn't have a simple button failure happen! Not good for business! Happy sewing everyone and menter young sewers please.
Posted: 6:55 am on April 8th
theninaline writes: Isabellas_Quilts : I would suggest the Coats Dual Duty Heavy XP that I used in the posting. It is fresh on the market and I seriously had such an easy time using it. It is simular to a topstitching thread, very durable and heavy, so it would be great to use on a leather jacket. I would suggest getting a very sharp needle for going through the leather with though!
Posted: 4:28 pm on May 14th
Isabellas_Quilts writes: Great tip !
I have a leather jacket that needs to have ALL the shank buttons re-done. I think I'll try this. Do you sugesst any certain kind of thread for this project. I really don't want to take It to a leather shop, when I can do this myself.
Would appreciate any tips you have on this...Thank You
Posted: 11:54 pm on May 6th
NIMMI writes: ITS VERY GOOD LESSON,S FOR ME, I LIKE ALLS
Posted: 2:47 pm on May 1st
NLJSEWON writes: Hey Shannon
Great tip. Love that thread. Thanks for the advice. Give us more!
Posted: 3:13 pm on April 29th
MindlessPursuits writes: Very nice little tutorial!
Posted: 11:04 am on April 29th
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