Guide To Sewing Buttons: How To Sew On A Button Correctly

by Guest Blogger on 2010-02-2122

As a follow up to my article “Frugal Tips: How To Make 10 Ordinary Things Last Longer“, I bring you this awesome guest post by Mrs. Accountability. She writes at Out of Debt Again, a personal finance blog where she details her family’s journey to getting out of debt and living frugally. If you find the following tutorial on button sewing as impressive as I do, please consider subscribing to Mr’s A’s Out of Debt Again RSS feed. I’m one of her fans!

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

One of the things I do when I buy a new (or used) piece of clothing is to check that the buttons are sewn on properly. Losing a button can ruin an outfit (thereby costing you money), so this is something you shouldn’t overlook.

Just before Christmas, my hubby bought me one of those long cardigan style sweaters. It was a gorgeous brown color, very flattering to my figure, but as is my custom, I checked the buttons to find that they were attached rather haphazardly. One of the buttons was attached by only one set of holes, while the others were threaded with just a few loops of very lightweight thread. I knew it was only a matter of time before one or more of these buttons would be lost.

Button Sewn on Haphazardly

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that this is becoming more common with clothing especially when purchased from stores such as Walmart or Target. As a frugal person, I don’t want to lose buttons which would devalue the product, in some cases rendering it unusable (unless of course I find a replacement button or replace all the buttons). So here’s my frugal tip: when I find a loosely attached button, I take a few minutes to sew it on properly. Sometimes an extra button comes with the article, so I will spend another minute or two attaching the button to a hidden area; this pretty much negates my chance of losing the spare button. Plus, if I decide to donate this sweater at some time in the future, I know the spare button will go with it to the next owner.

Just a note: most buttons are probably sewn on with machines, so that is why in the next photo you see the one strand of thread going from the bottom right buttonhole to the upper left buttonhole. This is not the correct way to sew on a button, so don’t do it this way.

Not the right way to sew on a button

Guide To Sewing Buttons: How To Sew On A Button Correctly

Okay, so let’s get started on sewing your buttons!

You’ll need a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors. If you don’t have these items, you can easily find them in just about any store you shop — your local grocery or drugstore will usually have at least a sewing kit for sale. You can be a little more choosy if you go to a crafts store, like Joann or Michael’s. I would recommend keeping at least a spool of white and a spool of black thread on hand. Choose a needle that has a large eye for ease in threading; or if you don’t see too well up close, pick up a needle threader.

First thread the needle. The thread will feed through the eye of the needle more easily if you cut it rather than pull to break.

Once the thread is in the eye, pull a length of thread about 12-16 inches long. If you are using a needle threader, put the needle threader first through the eye of the needle, then feed the thread into the needle threader. Now pull the needle threader out of the eye of the needle and your thread will come through the eye of the needle as well.

Double the thread over so that you have 12-16 inches of doubled thread.

To make a knot at the end of the thread, wrap the ends of the thread around your index finger.

Wrap thread around finger

Then roll the thread down to the end of your finger, using your thumb.

Roll the thread down your finger

Take the little mass you’ve produced and pull on it lightly to tighten it into a small knot.

Remove mass from finger
Pull tight to form a knot

Take the article of clothing and insert the needle on the underside, threading it out through one of the holes in the button.

Sewing a button on

Continue to feed the needle into the button from one side and then the other. Do this six or seven times until you are satisfied that the button is attached properly. Now on the wrong side under the button, make a knot by sewing into the material and making a loop with the thread, several times. When you feel confident that the thread won’t break loose, cut the thread.

Before and After
Button sewn into place

If an extra button was included with the garment, sew it onto a hidden place on the inside of the garment using the same method. I usually sew one set of holes, so it will be easier to slip a pair of scissors under the button to snip it free if I need to replace a lost one.

Extra button sewn into seam of sweater

By taking a few minutes to attach your buttons properly, you will prolong the life of your garment, and the next time you need to replace a button, you’ll be able to do it yourself!

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Accountability February 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

SVB, what an honor to have my tutorial on your site today. Thank you very much for the opportunity! 🙂 Mrs. Accountability

One Frugal Girl February 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Here’s another little trick… When you sew on the button place a toothpick between the button and the fabric and then stitch. This provides a little more give for the button to get through the button holes. It works amazingly well.

Silicon Valley Blogger February 22, 2010 at 7:49 am

@Mrs. A,
Thanks for this great guide! These are great practical tips that are good to know. I’m one of those people who just stuffs loose, spare buttons in my drawer when I first purchase a garment, and will admit that I’ve lost a whole lot of buttons over a long period of time. It’s just something most of us don’t think about when we get a new outfit and then we pay later when we have to wear something with mismatched buttons (which I’ve done before, since I eventually lose at least one button AND the spares)!

kenyantykoon February 22, 2010 at 9:47 am

this just goes to show that sewing should have been called rocket science. 🙂 speaking strictly from a guys perspective 🙂

Credit Girl February 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Gorgeous sweater! I love cardigans… You’re right. It’s better to prevent the loss of a button rather than lose it forever. I’d rather take out those extra couple of minutes as well to re-sew things that I hold dear and important to me so that I’ll be sure they stay in tact for clothing that I love.

Deborah February 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Nicely done. Strange for this country girl to recognize that not everyone grew up sewing their buttons as a matter of course!

WellHeeledBlog February 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Nice! I have a few dresses / shirts that need their buttons re-sewn or re-enforced. I usually just wait until I need to get a pair of pants hemmed, because my tailor will re-do the buttons for me for free. But maybe I need to learn how to hem pants…

LeanLifeCoach February 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Arggg… where was this a few months ago. I was traveling for work and lost a button on my shirt collar. The hotel had one of those little sewing kits but no seamstress in sight. I managed to hack a button on there but it definitely looked like an idiot did the job. When I got home and my wife saw it, she busted out laughing!!!

Nice article!

Goran Web Design February 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Brilliant! It is back to basics stuff like this that our throw-away-and-buy-new mindset has robbed us humans of! The bottom line is that simple preventative maintenance and attention to detail can prolong the lifetime of many items significantly.

Pam February 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I did the same thing when I recently bought a new winter coat. I love the coat but even when I first bought it all the buttons were hanging by a thread. I had to secure all of them otherwise I would have ended up with a coat that I couldn’t do up properly.

Kari February 24, 2010 at 6:40 am

That was one of the first things my mother taught me (no not sewing…) to check you clothes for all the buttons and also to check the zippers and look for snags when purchasing. I have never really gave much thought to how to sew a button so when I saw the final pic I thought it looked kind of weird but then I just checked the buttons on my shirt and what do you know…looks exactly the same. Definitely learned a new skill. Thanks!

BravoBilly February 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

Thanks for the lesson. Ever since the Navy, I have always sewn buttons on; but, never really remembered quite how. Now, I am living the life of a bachelor and sewing buttons on…Something I procrastinate, because they seem to come back off. Not any more. Once again, thanks.

Mick February 25, 2010 at 9:21 am

A previous comment about a toothpick is a good idea. I’ve sewn my buttons for years, something my mum taught me for years. I never do it the way you suggest is sloppy because the button will come back off sooner rather than later. Do it right the first time it will last the duration of the garment and probably the other buttons.

Martin February 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Now i know why i tried to learn it by myself. If you see a wrongly sewn button in the store you can accept a loss in price and then you can use this very good guide to repair this little mistake. I tried it by myself several times and i saved some dollars by doing this. It is very helpful.

Mrs. Accountability March 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Wow, so many comments! What a nice surprise to find when I dropped by today! @WellHeeled: I have been thinking about putting together a hemming tutorial… Thanks again, SVB! 🙂

Silicon Valley Blogger March 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm

@Mrs. A,
You’re very welcome! It’s always a pleasure to be able to feature your work here. 🙂 Thanks for such an awesome piece.

Kaye Swain March 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Hi, I popped over to visit for the Boomers and Seniors: News You Can Use blog carnival and enjoyed this article as well. Terrific advice. I’m afraid I’m really bad about buttons. Great tip to check clothes right away. I also appreciated the tip about the toothpick from One Frugal Girl. 🙂

Sewing Supplies July 26, 2010 at 8:53 am

Great guide! Everyone can use some instructions on button sewing!

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