Sewing on a Button

Even though it may seem like a minor detail, once you've spent time creating a special project, it's important to sew the buttons on correctly. It's a quick and simple process that will help ensure your buttons stay on for a long time to come.

If you're wondering about this adorable pattern, it's the Sunday Brunch Jacket from Oliver + S.

The first step is to mark where the buttons will go. I use a fabric marker to mark the middle of my button holes:

Next, thread a small eyed needle with a (roughly) 36 inch length of thread and tie it's ends in a knot, so you have a doubled 18 inch length of thread.

Pull the needle through from the back of the fabric at the marked point and through the top right hole of the button.

Put your needle back in through the bottom right hole of the button and re-enter the fabric at the marked point. Pull the thread to secure the button but do not pull it too tight. Leave about a 1/8 inch length of slack. This little extra space will allow room for  fabric to fit under the button.

Sew through the right side of the button 3 times in this manner and then repeat for the left side. Remember to leave the slack. You will notice from the picture above that the threads look a little loose in the button. This will be fixed shortly...

After you've sewn both sides of the button push your needle through the back of the fabric and pull it out in between the front of the fabric and the button.

Wrap the thread around the slack threads tightly six times. This creates room for fabric to fit underneath the button. This will also tighten up the threads on the front of the button.

Now pull your needle through a loop of the thread and pull tightly to secure.

Tie a knot in the back of the fabric to double secure the button.

Finally, pull the needle through the fabric to the area behind the button and clip it close so you can't see the end.

Repeat for all your buttons!

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16 Responses to Sewing on a Button

  1. Danielle says:

    Thanks so much for a(nother) very easy to follow tutorial – you’re right, it’s something that’s not often explained – it seems to be assumed that we all know how to sew a button on!


  2. Ashley H. says:

    Gorgeous job on the jacket! And thanks for the tutorial. I just learned how to sew on a button a year ago, and you’re right, it’s a lost piece of info!

  3. Johanna says:

    I learned this from my mom as a kid – but I suppose I could still leave a little more slack :) Thank you for this wonderful little tutorial!

  4. Lauren says:

    If you want to get uniform slack (or you can’t help pulling your thread tightly) you can place a toothpick between the button and the garment. It will provide the right amount of slack once the toothpick is removed.

  5. alicia says:

    thanks for the little tutorial – very helpful! and the jacket is precious!

  6. Julie says:

    Darling jacket and wonderful button tutorial! So few people know this very useful technique.
    If you insert your needle initially into the front of the garment you will hide the knot under the button…once upon a time I worked for a tailor many moons ago.

  7. Kim says:

    This is the method I learned in Home Ec class–lo, these many years ago!–except that we were taught to stitch through the holes over a pin placed over the top of the button to allow for the necessary slack. Same idea as the toothpick, but you tend to have pins right there in front of you when sewing! Beautiful jacket!

  8. T2 says:

    Reading this was definitly one of those eureka moments. Thank for you sharing.

  9. two_little_pumpkins says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! I did not even know I was doing it wrong. I love the jacket too!

  10. Erin says:

    How have I gone through life not knowing this?! THANK YOU!

  11. Lisa says:

    thats an awesome looking jacket. was just wondering though what fabric pattern did you use.

  12. Dalya says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! Beautiful pictures and clear instructions! I just sewed on two buttons that fell off a top. It's so therapeutic to do this by hand. I love my sewing machine, but, I'm not interested in fiddling around with stitch width and taking a gamble with a sewing machine needle! Some things are better done by hand, and I guess this is one of them :) Thanks so much!

  13. Sandra says:

    When you want to have a thread shank on a button–insert round toothpicks–in the example shown you will need two–. Place them on the top of the button and sew over them so that you are making the loops longer. This gives you a uniform size and you don't have to hold the button in an awkward position while sewijng. When you are finished sewing, remove the toothpicks and pull the button to the top of the sewn loop–then wrap the underneath part of the loop to make the thread shank. Using this method is faster and insures that each button has an identical length shank.

  14. Sandra says:

    More–Actually the proper way to begin the sewing is to stitch through from the front–the button will cover the knot–and then finish your sewing with another knot, also under the button. If you do this you will not have a glump of thread showing on the back as is shown here.
    I think this tutorial should be redone. Thanks.

  15. Abby says:

    If you think of your thread stand (the thread you wrap around underneath the button) as needing to be as thick as the fabric it will be buttoned through, that will tell you how much slack you should allow in the thread. So for a heavy wool coat, for example, you might use a match stitch under the button to give you the right thickness.

  16. Sweetie Pie says:

    Just today, I was asking myself if there wasn't a better way to sew on buttons than the mess I ended up with. Thank you for answering my question so clearly. Now, what is the trick for buttons with a shank? Thanks.

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