How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

We've all had the experience of preparing for a date or a big meeting at work, or being late for a class only to find we've popped a button. I've resorted to stapling my blouse together or trying to hold the top of my jeans together with a paper clip. But now I play it smart. I don't go anywhere without my compact emergency sewing kit. With just three basic tools from your kit, you can sew on that button by following a few easy steps.

1 Thread the needle and make a knot. If you cut 24 inches of thread, double it over by threading the needle and hold the two ends together. Pull the needle until the thread is taut, leaving two equal lengths of thread on either side. Tie a knot at the end of the thread by making a circle, pushing the ends of the thread through, and pulling tight. If the knot seems so small that it will pull through the fabric, repeat this procedure, layering the knots until it's thick enough to catch the fabric.

If you have less than 24 inches of thread, don't double it over. Thread the needle and make sure that the "short end" is about 3 to 4 inches long. This end will remain unknotted. Holding the other end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger, loosely wrap the short end around your forefinger two or three times while keeping the thread in place with your thumb.

Slide your forefinger down toward the base of your thumb, twisting the threads together until the thread forms a loop and pushes off the forefinger end. Grasp the loop between your thumb and forefinger at the point where the loop joins the rest of the thread. Pull the loop until a knot is formed. You'll be left with two lengths of thread: a short one with no knot and a long one with a knot at the end.

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

2 Find the target point. Insert your needle from the back side of the fabric to the front, where the button used to sit. Then insert the needle through the front, so that it comes out the back again. As you go through both sides of the fabric, make a small X where the button will be fastened. This X serves two purposes: It's the target you want to hit when sewing on the button, and it reinforces the spot, ensuring that future stress won't pull the button off again.

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

3 Position and anchor the button. Lay your button on the X and begin sewing it on. Insert the needle behind where the button sits and push it from the back to the front through one of the holes in the button. As you loop through one of the four holes (depending on the button), lay a needle, toothpick, or paper clip on top. This is your anchor: You'll loop the thread over it.

Pull the thread all the way through until the knot presses against the back side of the fabric. Use your finger to keep the button in its place.

From the front side, insert the needle through the hole opposite the one you came up through. Push it through until the thread is taut. You'll now see a small line of thread across the button, connecting two of the four holes (or the two holes, if it's a two-hole button). Repeat this pattern three or four times for every set of two holes. The needle, toothpick, or paper clip you are using as an anchor will look like a silent movie damsel tied to a railroad track!

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

4 Create the shank. On the final pass of the needle, sew from back to front of the fabric, but don't push the needle through the button's hole. Pierce the fabric in the same position, turn the needle to the side, and pull it up next to the button, stretching the thread taut.

Next, wrap the length of thread behind the button, so that it encircles the threads you've already stitched. Do this five or six times, effectively creating a tied bundle of thread.

When finished, pull the thread until it's taut, pierce the fabric behind the button, and pull it through to the back side. Now, you're ready to tie off the thread.

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

5 Secure the knot and free the needle. Create a knot on the back side of the fabric by inserting your needle to make a shallow dive into the fabric and, before pulling it taut, push it through the loop. Regardless of whether you tie the knot using your fingers or the needle, position it firmly against the back side of the fabric. Repeat this process three or four times.

Finally, pull out the anchor and voilà! Your button will likely be more secure than it was the first time it was sewn on.

How to Sew on a Button Step by Step

The Basic Tools

Two needles. In your kit, you should have a sharp needle. This is your goto and will work for almost any job. It's a thinnish, medium-length needle with a sharp point. For the second needle, choose a quilting needle (aka "between") for heavier fabrics such as denim or canvas. You'll need one of these needles to sew and the other to anchor the button. If you have only one needle, use a straightened paper clip, toothpick, or safety pin for the anchor.

Thread. Start with at least 12 inches of thread. I like to double my thread so it's stronger and easier to knot at the end—I suggest using 24 inches if you have enough to spare. You can match the color of either the garment or the button. If that's not possible, use black, white, or tan—whatever color is the most neutral.

A button. It's best to use the one that popped off. If that's not possible, check your garment for spare buttons. Sometimes extra buttons are sewn directly onto the inside placket of a shirt or into the waistband of pants.

Scissors (optional). If you can't lay your hands on a pair, use a nail clipper or saw the thread on the sharp edge of a table.