Everyone should know how to sew a button onto a shirt or coat, right? It is a life skill! And like many life skills, it can be
a total pain the buttrather tedious. But I bet by the time you try this method you are going to be singing a different tune, and you may even search out opportunities to sew buttons on your clothes, as well as those belonging to friends!
Here’s what you will need:
- Beeswax or thread conditioner
- Hand sewing needle
- Small scissors
- Thimble (optional)
Steps to Sew a Button by hand
1. Thread your needle with a piece of thread approximately 18-24 inches long. Do not tie a knot at the end, but do double it.
2. Run your thread over thread conditioner or beeswax to reduce twisty-tangles while sewing. (Hint: if using beeswax, be sure to press the coated thread with a warm iron onto a paper towel before sewing. Otherwise the wax will come off on your fabric!)
3. Mark the button placement on your fabric.
4. Take 1 small horizontal stitch on the button placement mark, and pull the needle through the thread loop. This will secure the thread to the fabric without creating a lumpy thread knot. Pretty cool already, right? Repeat, this time taking a vertical stitch on the button placement mark. Congrats: your thread is now secure!
5. Trim the short thread ends so they are not sticking out under your button.
6. Fold the fabric at the button placement mark.
7. Put the button on top of the fabric fold, and center the button holes over the button placement mark.
8. Starting on the back side, insert the needle thru a bit of fabric and then thru one of the button holes. The needle + thread is now on the front side of the button. You know the next step, right? From the front side, insert the needle thru the second button hole and also thru a bit of fabric. Now the needle + thread is again on the back side of the button.This is the “secure the button to the fabric” stitch.
9. Repeat this “secure the button” stitch twice more for a total of 3 stitches. Do not pull the thread super tight, but also do not leave any loopy or dangly threads.
10. On the back side of the button, wrap the thread around your stitches 3 times, creating a small button “shank”. This shank creates a little “breathing” space for the fabric/buttonhole to sit under the button without puckering when the garment is buttoned up.
11. You are almost there! The last step is secure the thread, and it is nearly identical to step #4. Just insert the needle into the fabric next to the shank pulling the thread until you see a small loop, and slip the needle thru that loop and pull tight. Repeat once more, and you have a secure, neat button sewn to your garment!
I only recently learned this technique from a very talented sewing instructor, Jacque Goldsmith. She learned this method from her high school Home Ec teacher, and demo’ed it for one of our Seattle ASG neighborhood group meetings. Despite the cumulative “sewing years” of our group, this technique was new to every one of us!
Have you ever tried sewing a button this way? What are your favorite button sewing tips and tricks? I’d love to hear what you think about this method, or about anything else!
For another great technique, be sure to read SewMcCool’s “secret” button sewing tutorial!