Buttons fall off. We lose them in the laundry. The buttons break apart. We all have at least one garment that is missing a button. (Or a garment waiting for the buttons to be moved.) Sewing on a button is a basic skill that everyone should have.
I am told that when I was a little girl I would remove my jacket without unbuttoning it – just yanking it open and popping the buttons off. By the umpteenth time of my doing this my mother got so frustrated she set me down and told me I had to sew my buttons back on myself. After showing me how to do it she left me alone. When she returned I had managed to sew the buttons back on but it did not match up with the original buttonholes. So being an inventive 5 year old I had just cut a new buttonhole.
I have since mastered the technique of sewing on a button (and getting the button to line up with the hole.) In honor of National Sewing Month I will share a tutorial on how to sew on a flat button.
What you will need:
Good quality thread that matches the button, the garment, or the thread used to sew on the other buttons
Good quality needles
A suitable button (if possible use the spare button found on the inside of the garment or in the little baggie you tossed in a drawer)
A toothpick or two needles or pins
Let’s get started:
Choose your button and thread. Select a suitable button and thread. Locate the spare button if possible.
Thread the needle. Pull the thread through the needle so that there is an equal length of thread extending from both sides. (There is no shame in using a needle threader.) Use about 24 inches of thread. Pull about 12 inches thru the needle. Double threading your needle will make sewing on your button stronger and faster. (24 inches is the perfect length. If it is too long it will be easy to get the thread tangled. If it is too short it will be hard to maneuver the needle when you need to tie off.)
Tie a knot at the end of the thread. One way to tie a knot is to wrap the thread around your finger, roll the thread between your fingers, and pull it tight. If you doubled the thread, tie the ends together. Cut the extra tail off below the knot.
Run the needle through the backside of the fabric in the area where you want the button to be. Stitch back to front and then from the front to the back twice forming an “x”. This will create an anchor for where the button will be placed.
Position the button on the fabric. Line the button up with the other buttons on the garment. Also check the buttonhole. Close the opposite flap or panel where you want it and make sure that the button lines up with the buttonhole.
Position the toothpick. Place the toothpick on top of the “x” between the fabric and the button. The purpose of the toothpick is to form the shank. This little pillar separates flat buttons from the garment to allow another layer of fabric, the buttonhole side, to sit comfortably. The toothpick will prevent the button from being stitch too tightly. (Pins or needles can also work.)
Push the threaded needle up through the fabric coming from the backside and through one hole in the button. Pull the thread all the way through each time. Sink the needle down a different hole through the button and the fabric to the backside.
Strengthen the button. Repeat the sewing process enough times to make sure the button is securely in place.
Remove the toothpick on the last stitch. Push the needle through the material, but not through a hole in the button. Wrap the thread six times around the thread between the button and the material to reinforce the shank you have created.
Push the needle back down through the material. Make a few stitches below the button, going back and forth to make them strong. To tie this thread off on the last stitch form a loop. Holding the loop pull part of the thread through. Create a new loop as you pull the thread through. Do this twice more. One the last time through pull the thread all the way through. Put the needle through the fabric coming up ¼ inch away. This will hide the tail. Cut off the excess thread where it comes through the fabric.
Easy peasy! You will be able to fix your own buttons. (And there will be no need to cut new buttonholes.)
Next week in our series on Basic Sewing Essentials we will learn how to clean your sewing machine.
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