How to Use Buttons to Close a Seam

comments (5) March 14th, 2009     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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I think the button detail along this seam is really interesting.
Heres a close-up of the buttons. Check out how easy it is to sew them on by machine! 
Here is my trusty Simflex ruler. I use it anytime I have to space small stuff apart accurately.
I think the button detail along this seam is really interesting.

I think the button detail along this seam is really interesting.

Photo: Jen Stern
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Add interesting detail to a plain tee or tank by using buttons to close the side seams. I was working on my tank with "holes filled with buttons" that I started for a post a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to try something fun with the rest of the red buttons I had piled up on my cutting board. Instead of sewing a traditional seam, I decided to use the buttons as a closure for one of the side seams. I think it pulls the whole design together. As I worked on my tank, it occurred to me that this would be a great way to update any tee or tank...especially the ones that are a little boxy or loose. You can add a little waistline shaping to the side seams before you close them back up with the buttons!

Here's what you'll need:

  • A tee or tank top with side seams that can be cut apart
  • Steam-A-Seam 1/4-inch fusible webbing
  • A ruler or a Simflex ruler if you've got one (if you don't have a Simflex and you do a lot of garment sewing, you may consider getting one after you see how easy it is to accurately space things like buttons and their holes!)
  • Pins
  • Buttons
  • Thread that matches or contrasts your buttons

If you're working with a tee or tank from your closet, try it on to check how it fits. If it's too loose, here's your opportunity to give it some shape-put it on inside out and take in the side seams to get a more stylish fit. Use pins to mark the new side seams. Draw a new side seam through all the pin markings, then cut the side seams apart along the line. Use 1/4-inch double-stick fusible tape (such as Steam-A-Seam) to turn the raw edges under to the wrong side.

Use Steam-a-Seam to fuse raw edges to wrong side of tee   I love Steam-A-Seam because you only have to press it once at the end. (It sticks to the fabric just by pressing on it!)


Press the Steam-A-Seam along the edge on the wrong side of the fabric   Stick a piece along the raw edge on the wrong side of the fabric.


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posted in: buttons

Comments (5)

Rooty_Tooty writes: What a cute idea! This could also be used for an interesting touch to side seams on skirts or pants, too. However, I think you might need to keep the buttons below the hipline. I'm not sure this technique would hold up to the added strain in the hip area caused by sitting & movement in general. Then again, with a little experimentation, I'm sure a suitable way to reinforce this area could be found.

Also, this could be a nice solution for those too high slits in some skirts. Again, though, I think this would require some additional reininforcement. It seems that slits in skirts have a tendency to grow longer due to the strain caused by movement.
Posted: 3:50 pm on March 15th
Toffy writes: Well done instructions and a Sassy Closure for the side seam.
About the "auto knot feature"....Be aware that when sewing on buttons with a machine...(I do it all the time) I learned the hard way, that you must stitch in one hole several times to lock the stitch before you zig-zag (buttonhole stitch) the button, and end in the opposite hole and do the same again to lock the threads. I then end in the first hole, and lock one more time. I will then tie off the cut threads, on the back of the button, after pulling them thru to the wrong side of the garment. Using the machine to sew on buttons is great and fast, but if not done correctly they will unravel and fall off in just a couple of wearings.
Found a used Simflex Ruler at a Garage Sale for a buck some years is a must have ladies.
Posted: 11:13 am on March 15th
Sister_Diane writes: Oooooh... I clearly need a Simflex ruler.
Posted: 6:45 pm on March 14th
TheArtfulDogger writes: Thanks for the detailed how-to! I really appreciate the thorough descriptions and tips, and the introduction to a new tool—the Simflex ruler. Gotta get one now.
Posted: 12:38 pm on March 14th
Paws2 writes: HI...Love the look!! Many of the techniques I have used in different projects and forgotten about....I will definitly try the buttons on the side plus use the triple zigzag tac and look for the Simflex Ruler. I also have the Steam a seam on hand and will make use of it. It's funny that you have these items on hand and forget how useful they can be! Thanks for the ideas!!
Posted: 8:35 am on March 14th
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