How to Sew a Button – 3 Button Types

If you are a sewer, you may be thinking, why should I read a blog post about how to sew a button? That’s fair enough but truth behold so many people don’t know the right way to attach a button to pants, shirts, or garments in general. If you don’t sew learning how to attach a button is one of the best skills, you could learn!

How to Sew a Button - 3 Button Types

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A few years ago, I help a young New Zealand designer get her first collection ready for Net a porter. My job was to resew buttons onto trench coats that were $5000 each because the manufacturer had done a bad job of attaching them in the first place. I remember her saying to me “I don’t want to be the designer whose buttons fall off!” and this made me laugh! 

I’m sure most of us, including yourself, have experienced a button falling off at the wrong time. It always seems to be the way…when you’re rushing out the door and next thing you know your pants button fly’s off…off you go to change your entire outfit and then your late for work. 

What if you could whip out your sewing kit and reattach that button in less than 40 seconds. Headache averted! 

So, let’s go through the steps of sewing a button on the right way.  

How to Sew Buttons Onto Shirts, Pants, and Well Anything Else…

There are three common types of buttons that you will probably find on one or more garments in your wardrobe. These are the 2-hole, 4-hole, and shank buttons. 

You will often see 2-hole or 4-hole buttons attached to shirts or pants and shank buttons on coats, dresses, or shirts. 

The first step to hand sewing a button is threading a needle with thread. Find a thin, small hand sewing needle and some thread, any thread is fine, polyester is a common thread in most sewing rooms today. 

If you aren’t a sewer pick up a cheap sewing kit to keep in your supply drawer. These are so handy to pop in the car too.

Most of these kits include hand sewing needles, mini scissors, a small supply of threads in lots of colours, and a needle threader. Handy right!

How to Thread a Needle – Two Ways!

Old School threading: 

Step 1: Trim the end of the thread on an angle to get a sharp tip on the thread. 

Step 2: Pop this through the hole on the needle, also known as the needle eye. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 3: Pull the thread through until it’s about 20cm long and double this up. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 4: Knot the ends of the thread off and trim the end threads off. 

How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button

Using a Needle Threader: 

This is a little hack that I love! Using a needle threader is a quicker way to thread a needle if you struggle with the ‘old school way’. The best thing about this tool is most people have them in their sewing kits and don’t know what the heck they’re for. Let me know in the comments below if you can relate! 

How to Sew a Button

Step 1: Pop the end of the needle threader through the eye of the needle. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 2: Place the thread through the needle threader 

How to Sew a Button

Step 3: Pull the needle threader out of the needle eye. 

Step 4: Take the thread out of the needle threader and continue to pull the thread to be 20cm long and doubled over.

How to Sew a Button

Step 5: Knot the end of the thread and trim the ends off.

How to Sew a Button
Thread doubled up with two skiens

Tip: You can choose to double up the thread strands by threading through two skeins rather than just one. This will mean less hand sewing because the thread will be thicker with each stitch. 

How to Mark the Button Placement

Before you start sewing any button it’s great to mark the position, so you know where to sew. I have a trick to doing this quickly. You will need to have the buttonholes ready to go before this step. 

Step 1: Place the side with buttonholes over where the buttons are to be sewn. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 2: Using a chalk pencil mark through the buttonhole in the centre. 

How to Sew a Button

That’s it! Super quick and easy rather than measuring out the button points. 

How to Sew a 2 Hole Button

How to Sew a Button

Step 1: Begin by securing the knotted thread in the fabric. Pop the needle in on the right side of the garment and through the back, up again to be back on the right side of the garment. 

How to Sew a Button

Tip: The knot should be on the same side as the button to hide the knot.

Step 2: Thread the needle through the first buttonhole from the back. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 3: Thread the needle back through the other buttonhole from the front. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 4: Thread the needle through the same spot as the knot and back up the next spot again. 

Tip: Don’t pull the thread too tight as you want the button to have some slack to allow for fabric thickness when the button goes through the buttonhole.  

Step 5: Repeat the process 3-4 more times to secure the button. 

Step 6: Finish the last stitch with the needle coming up and under the button. To knot off your sewing thread the needle around the strands on one side and pull the needle through the loop. Repeat this two times to secure. Trim off the thread. 

How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button

How to Sew a 4 Hole Button

How to Sew a Button

Step 1: Begin by securing the knotted thread in the fabric. Pop the needle in on the right side of the garment and through the back, up again to be back on the right side of the garment. 

How to Sew a Button

Tip: The knot should be on the same side as the button to hide the knot.

Step 2: Thread the needle through one of the holes from the back. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 3: Thread the needle back through the opposite buttonhole from the front. Think of a crisscross.

How to Sew a Button

Step 4: Thread the needle back up the opposite buttonhole and repeat the crisscross pattern. 

Tip: Don’t pull the thread too tight as you want the button to have some slack to allow for fabric thickness when the button goes through the buttonhole.  

Step 5: Repeat the process x2 more times to secure the button. 

Step 6: Finish the last stitch with the needle coming up and under the button. To knot off your sewing thread the needle around the strands on one side and pull the needle through the loop. Repeat this two times to secure. Trim off the thread. 

How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button

How to Sew a Shank Button

How to Sew a Button

Step 1: Begin by securing the knotted thread in the fabric. Pop the needle in on the right side of the garment and through the back, up again to be back on the right side of the garment. 

Tip: The knot should be on the same side as the button to hide the knot.

Step 2: Thread the needle through the shank end and down into the fabric. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 3: Bring the thread up again and through the shank end. 

How to Sew a Button

Step 4: Repeat this process about x4 times to secure the shank button. 

Step 5: Finish the last stitch with the needle coming up and under the button. To knot off your sewing thread the needle around the strands on one side and pull the needle through the loop. Repeat this two times to secure. Trim off the thread.

How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button

As you can see there are quite a few different types of buttons and ways you can attach them to garments. 

Sewing on buttons can be made much easier by using helpful tools made available to you if you want to invest in them. 

And when I say invest, I mean these items are like a few dollars to buy – so totally get some!

I highly recommend practicing how to sew on buttons, even if you just use scrap fabric and spare buttons. I personally think knowing how to sew buttons is a valuable skill to have whether you sew or not! 

More On Sewing

If you are interested in learning more about sewing have a look at my beginner’s guides to threading your sewing machine, winding a bobbin, and sewing seams.

If you are keen to put your new skills to the test, check out my Dua Blouse sewing pattern. This style has a shoulder placket with buttons as its only closure. I was really inspired by vintage country living when designing this pattern. 

Did you find this Blog helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

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