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How to Sew Buttons

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Do you know the right way to sew a button? From shirts to pants and outwear, button closures are a necessity when it comes to finalizing many garments. 

There are various ways to add closure other than buttons, zippers and elastic are two options that immediately come to mind. However, buttons are the easiest method to sew with or without a sewing machine. 

How do you sew buttons? Sewing buttons are easily done by hand or with a sewing machine. Depending on your comfort level, both methods are easily achievable and both last long on the garment. 

Hand sewing buttons requires basic back stitching to secure. And sewing buttons with a sewing machine requires a special foot to secure the button in place while moving the needles back and forth.

Whether you comfortable hand sewing or using sewing machine as a beginner, specific technique is required to attach buttons on the garment. Depend on the fabrication and the style of buttons, the correct thread and needle are needed to sew buttons fool proof.

Sewing button is very easy task compared to sewing buttonholes. Select the correct buttonhole style based on your garment and finish it by manually or machine sewing the buttons intact. 

This article covers everything that you will need to know about sewing buttons. If you’re not familiar with the proper ways to sew buttons through hand or machine, here are professionals tips and sewing techniques for each type of buttons so that they stay secure and last.

How to sew a button with sewing machine

Sewing buttons with a sewing machine is the quickest way to accomplish the task, most definitely the sturdiest method for people who wish to save on time and avoid chances of imperfections. Whether you have Singer or Brother sewing machine, button sewing instructions are not different, but you will need a special foot with adjusted tension and stitch length. 

By following this easy sewing machine method, you’ll quickly adopt the technique. Here is the most efficient way to sew button with a sewing machine.

  • Firstly, take measurement of distance between the buttonholes. Mark the location of for the button using the buttonhole placement.
  • Elevate the lever of the presser foot and slide the feed dog lever into position.
  • Remove the regular presser foot
  • Place button between the fabric and presser foot. While you’re attaching buttons of four-hole, sew holes that are closest. Now, you can slide button so needle is present in two holes towards the sew machine rear. Now sew these in the same way.
  • Select button stitch or zigzag stitch.
  • Adjust stitch width so it has the same distance between buttonholes.
  • Set stitch length to shortest after setting through pressing key for stitch length adjustment.
  • Turn hand wheel towards you to check that the needle goes correctly in two button holes. Tweak width of the stitch to fit the hole distance.
  • Stitch around 8 stitches back and forth, if the machine has buttoned stitch it automatically stops.
  • Pull upper thread at stitching end to the fabrics wrong side and tie it off with the bobbin thread. Cut upper thread and bobbin thread with scissors at the stitch beginning. 
  • When finished attaching the buttons, elevate the feed dog while keeping straight stitch machine setting.

The process is very simple and helps you avoid hand sewing. In machine sewing, you need the correct feet to avoid breaking the needle and button when you sew 2- or 4-hole buttons instead of using regular feet.

step by step tutorial on how to sew buttons by hand and sewing machine

How to sew buttons by hand

If you have been sewing buttons by hand and notice that the buttons start falling off after a couple of wears, then you must have hand sewed the buttons in the wrong way. In order to hand sew buttons that last long, there are additional steps to take other than sewing each hole with needle and thread.

Depend on the fabric weight, choose the strong thread and needle to start with so that it easily can poke through the material. For regular plastic buttons, use single threading method and for shank buttons apply double thread to get more strength to hold the weight.

Hand sew button step by step tutorial:

  • Cut a piece of thread about 1 yard or meter to start with.
  • Fold thread in half around 18 inches in length.
  • Hold thread gently at loop and squish the thread and loop in your fingers. 
  • Push metal loop through needle, thread entire loop while pulling back through, you must get 4 threads with equal length coming from needle.
  • Tie a knot of all 4 threads. 
  • For tying thread make loop and wrap the needle with 3 to 4 folds. Pinch the finger knot while sliding it down and pull gently. 
  • Use fabric chalk to mark where you wish to have the button. 
  • Pierce underside of fabric while pulling this until backside knot remains intact with backside of fabric and smooth front without puckers.
  • Pass through the button hole 3 to 4 times. With several holes, you can have square or X shape. All of these are equally strong, and it’s just all about aesthetics for the finished look.
  • Put needle back inside fabric push and feed thread to back. You’ve got your first loop.
  • Repeat the same process. Poke fabric from back again to front and also thread through button again and keep repeating this step until you’ve tied off the button thread.

To make the button slip in and out more easily, wrap the thread around few times at the base of the button where it is attached to the fabric. It creates a imitation of thread shank that lifts the button off the garment.

How to sew two hole buttons

Two hole buttons are great for light or medium-weight fabrics, and are generally attached with the holes lined up parallel to the fabric edge. In fact, two hole buttons are mainly used in men’s button-down shirts or formal women’s shirts.

Sewing two-hole button step by step tutorial:

  • Secure thread while bringing needle towards surface at button position and bring it backwards through the button.
  • Bring down needle from other hole and through fabric as well, leaving little gap between fabric and button.
  • Repeat above work for a few stitches through the button holes. Also wrap the needle and threads between button and fabric 3-4 times to get a shank and then thread the needle to the wrong side of the garment.
  • To tie the knot, create a loop with thread and stitch the needle through the loop. Pull tight to secure and repeat to create one more knot.

For 2-hole buttons, all you need is to under stitch 4-5 times. It is recommended to rotate three times before knotting it off twice. 

Based on the weight of the 2-hole button, there is generally no need to make a thread shank. However, if you need easy in and out, add a thread shank for more wiggle room.

How to sew four hole buttons

Four-hole flat buttons are great use for heavy-weight fabrics as it gives extra holes to make a stronger and durable attachment. When sewing two or four hole buttons the process is the same, however four hole buttons require slightly more steps that actually take less time to complete.

Sewing four-hole button step by step tutorial:

  • Double or quadruple the thread and knot the ends together.
  • Position your button in line with the buttonhole.
  • Push the needle and thread through the wrong side of the fabric until it stops at the knot.
  • Pass the needle through one buttonhole, through the hole diagonally opposite and then back through the fabric.
  • Repeat above process for working a few stitches through button holes. While working from all the four holes, either for forming parallel or cross bars. 
  • Now make a shank by wrapping the needle between fabrics around the thread that attaches the button.
  • For finishing, pass the needle through the stitches and then back through the underside of the fabric.
  • Wrap the thread around the needle to make a knot and trim the excess thread.

This type of button is great for thick heavy fabric or t-shirts. When working on 4-hole buttons, sew the button stitches close together, however you have an option of crisscross or parallel stitches depending on your preference.

Expert Advice: Use strong thread or double the string so it is stronger to hold. Always use a color that matches your fabric or contrast color as needed.

How to Sew Covered Buttons

Covered buttons add cohesiveness and unity to the garment that blends nicely when finished properly. It consists of metal loops at the end with flat plate attached to it. 

Metal covered buttons can be stitched through a shank (backwards loop) with scraps of self fabric. 

You can also purchase a covered button kit that comes with the necessary tool, or do it without a kit in order to cover any type of button with scraps of fabric.

Sewing covered button step by step tutorial:

  • Use a ruler to measure the distance between the button edge and shank.
  • Mark with fabric marker to obtain the distance from the button edge to the other edge.
  • Trace the circumference in alignment with the button and cut a circle on fabric.
  • Stitch along the fabric circle’s edge with even stitch length and width.
  • Place button upside down and pull both thread ends until fabric encases the button.
  • Make knots so the fabric is tight around the button shank.

If you are using lightweight fabric to make covered buttons, add interfacing to give more dimension and softness that also eliminates the problem with the button showing through the sheer material. When using manual covered button, there should be no fabric or thread blocking the button’s shank.

How to Sew Shank Button

Shank buttons aren’t generally flat, and they do not have holes on the surface, however sewing shank button is similar as sewing flat button. Due to usage, these buttons are more suited to garments like coats or cardigans.

This is an ideal choice for getting a formal finish as no visible stitching is present on the surface. These buttons have to be hand sewn onto the garment and cannot be attached by a sewing machine. 

Sewing shank button step by step tutorial:

  • Use appropriate needle for the fabric. Thread it with equal lengths.
  • Tie a knot at both thread ends.
  • Mark right fabric side where you wish to place button.
  • Thread needle through the fabric on the right side.
  • Pull thread tight for the right knot on the mark.
  • Thread through button shank.
  • Thread needle through fabric like you did before.
  • Pull thread tight, while securing the shank.
  • Secure the button after many passes through needle shank.
  • Have thread loop and also place needle through it. 
  • Move this along loop with needle, while you form a knot.
  • Pull the threads tight and cut rest of the thread.

In order to make shank button strong and secure, apply three blanket stitch after you wrap the thread around the stitches. Also, consider changing to a stronger thread or use multiple strands of thread through each pass.

Sewing Button: Final Thoughts

From regular plastic buttons to delicate covered buttons, there are different types and sizes when it comes to sewing button on the garment. Select the best method whether it is with sewing machine or by hand to complete your shirts, trousers, or dresses. 

Follow the techniques and steps to attach button that last and never fall apart. Use thick thread or multiple strands to increase durability.

2 hole and shank button are relatively similar, but 4 hole buttons can be attached with a parallel, square or x-shape cross stitching. In the end, a shank is useful for adding to a button as it gives strength to the connection and add wiggle room for the button to move freely so it is easier to slide through the buttonhole.

There you have it, all the details that you need to know about sewing buttons. Follow the techniques and button sewing tips that is specific to the type of button you are attaching.

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