Introduction: How to Sew on a Button!

Picture of How to Sew on a Button!

Sewing on a button is very simple once you know how to do it! I'll teach you how to sew on both shank and flat buttons so you're covered anytime one falls off. :)

Step 1: Types of Buttons.

Picture of Types of Buttons.

Flat buttons are the most common kind - they're what you'll find on dress shirts and most clothing. They have two or four holes, depending on the style.

Shank buttons have no holes on top, but they have a small protrusion on the back that is hollow at the end. They're more often found on dresses and coats.

Step 2: Things You Need to Sew on a Shank Button:

Picture of Things You Need to Sew on a Shank Button:
  • needle
  • 8 inches of doubled over thread - knot the ends a few times!
  • shank button
  • pen/pencil to mark your sewing spot

Step 3: Sewing on a Shank Button, Part One.

Picture of Sewing on a Shank Button, Part One.
  • bring your needle and thread up through the fabric on the spot you marked
  • pass them through the hole in the shank
  • bring them down through the fabric in the same spot

Step 4: Sewing on a Shank Button, Part Two.

Picture of Sewing on a Shank Button, Part Two.
  • pull the thread tight so the bottom of the shank sits against the fabric
  • continue passing the needle and thread through the fabric and shank, at least 8-10 times.
  • bring the needle to the back side of the fabric on the last pass.

Step 5: Sewing on a Shank Button, Part Three.

Picture of Sewing on a Shank Button, Part Three.
  • on the wrong side of the fabric, knot the thread several times, anchoring the knots with small stitches. 
  • cut off your ends and enjoy your button!

Step 6: Things You'll Need to Sew on a Flat Button:

Picture of Things You'll Need to Sew on a Flat Button:
  • needle
  • 8 inches of doubled over thread - ends knotted a few times!
  • button
  • toothpick
  • pen/pencil to mark your sewing spot

Step 7: Sewing on a Flat Button, Part One.

Picture of Sewing on a Flat Button, Part One.
  • start by marking the spot where you'll be sewing.
  • bring your needle up through the fabric next to the spot
  • bring the needle and thread through one side of the button
  • then bring it down through the other side of the button and through the fabric next to the spot.
  • now you have it anchored!

Step 8: Sewing on a Flat Button, Part Two.

Picture of Sewing on a Flat Button, Part Two.
  • push a toothpick between the fabric and button, between the two holes
  • bring the needle up and down through the holes of the button and through the back of the fabric several times - I do this at least 8-10 times in most cases.
  • on the last time, bring the needle up through the fabric next to the stitches that are already made, but not through the button (picture 3)
  • wind the string counter clockwise around the thread going from the button to the fabric a few times, pulling it tight and leaving the toothpick in place.
  • remove the toothpick and wind it a few more times
  • it should look like the last photo when you're done!
If anyone is wondering why anyone would take the time to do this - it's so your button will not break off and your clothes will fit better. There needs to be a little space between the button and the fabric so that an additional layer of fabric can fit easily between them. Otherwise, buttoning will be a chore and the fabric will pull in odd directions. And your thread will wear very quickly with all the friction... meaning a button that will not stay on long.

Step 9: Sewing on a Flat Button, Part Three.

Picture of Sewing on a Flat Button, Part Three.
  • after winding, bring the needle to the wrong side of the fabric and knot well by making small stitches in the fabric and then knotting.
  • knot at least three times
  • knot security is awesome!
  • trim your ends and marvel at your fantastic sewing abilities.

Step 10: Additional Hints and Tips:

Picture of Additional Hints and Tips:
  • always, always double your thread if using regular cotton or polyester thread. If you're using something more heavy duty like embroidery floss or upholstery thread, it's okay to use a single strand.
  • if you'd like to further secure your knots, a dab of fabric glue (my favorite is Fabri-Tac) will do it.
  • make sure that all your stitches are hidden under the button - otherwise it'll look messy and they could get snagged and break.
  • if you're sewing on a flat button with four holes, anchor the top two holes first and then move to the bottom ones.
And if you need help with general sewing, please check out my instructable on how to sew. It'll cover most everything you need to know!


machinist nerd (author)2015-09-04

if you do not have a toothpick for whatever reason, the ink part of a pen also works.

Nice!! That is a good tip :)

chelzcers (author)2017-02-15

What a great guide - this is one of the skills / tips included in 131 ways to save money and get free stuff in college

MelanieW44 (author)2016-09-26

Terrific instructions! Thanks

kwokhn2 (author)2015-06-10

I can't do it! I use the kind with four holes and it's really hard for me. ( I am not 18 yrs old yet)

builder927589452 (author)kwokhn22016-03-04

Try doing two times two holes
Either paralell or X-ing

mgcasella (author)2011-09-25

I've been sewing for a while and I thought I knew how to sew a button pretty well. I have been forever humbled :-)

CharlesD41 (author)mgcasella2015-12-06

I know the feeling...

AlexandriaL (author)2015-06-12

It's easy kwokhn2 and I'm only 11

kwokhn2 (author)2015-06-10

I don't get it!! (;_;)

Ploopy (author)2015-05-26


AnniesAppless (author)2014-11-29

Put beeswax on the thread before sewing the button on. Makes it stronger and protects the thread.

calistudent (author)2014-07-19

cool tutorial! i found this site that supplies lots of cool buttons too

HollyMann (author)2013-05-23

Genious!!! Never thought of anything like this..

CrLz (author)2013-02-01

Thanks- I finally fixed 5 pairs of shorts!

rainbowkisses (author)2011-09-27

on my husbands yard shirts and my eldest boys school shirts and youngests pjs, i use dental floss as thread they are as rough as guts with buttons. Oh i also use it for sewing limbs etc on teddy bears when i make them. Great tutorial!!

Ice Angel (author)2011-09-27

Thanks for the tutorial! Now I'll be sewing buttons like a pro. Any chance for such a great tutorial on sewing seams? Mine just never seem to hold very long... (",)

Silver Buttons (author)2011-09-26

How could I not have thought of the toothpick trick?? Very good idea, will try it when I sew some new buttons on my shirt.

As you can tell from my user name, I love buttons! =]

Labyrinth (author)2011-09-26

Tip-top Jess, thanks for the pointers.

axiesdad (author)2011-09-25

Nice 'ible. I didn't know the toothpick trick, always just tried to leave a little slack in the passes. You don't say anything about anchoring the thread at the beginning. Do you just leave an inch or so not pulled through and then snip it off when you are finished? I usually fasten mine with a few passes through the cloth before I start through the button; maybe that's just overkill.

jessyratfink (author)axiesdad2011-09-25

I always knot the end of the thread several times so it'll catch the first time you pull the needle through the fabric. I guess I probably should add that. :)

MTJimL (author)jessyratfink2011-09-25

Guess I'm weird; I usually start it on the front, then pass it back to the front before I run it through the button. Like axiesdad said, probly overkill.

MTJimL (author)2011-09-25

Hey, I think I can even do it. And ditto for the toothpick. Also you write with care and are easy to read and follow. That's refreshing on the Net these days. Can't wait to read your I'able on sewing.

TygerCub (author)2011-09-25

Very well written and illustrated. Thank you for such simple, useful instructions.

phase90 (author)2011-09-25

The toothpick is just the thing I have been missing all these years! Excellent.

Helder4u (author)2011-09-25

nice :)

ChrisJones2102 (author)2011-09-25

Thanks for the pointers. My mother taught me to sew on my buttons, but she never taught me about the toothpick. That's an excellent way to create the spacing between the button and the fabric.

MsJaxFla (author)2011-09-25

Excellent instructions. You can always make money teaching sewing. Smart gal that you are!

cernenwein (author)2011-09-23

I use dental floss instead of thread for buttons that come off a lot.

jessyratfink (author)cernenwein2011-09-25

That's a fantastic idea. Never would have thought of that!

laxap (author)2011-09-23

I had an approximate knowledge before.

Now with parts three, I know how to finish the job properly. Thanks.

billhorvath (author)2011-09-23

Very nice! Thanks -- I've been looking for improvements to my technique, and the toothpick is a great idea.

PixyMcCrafty (author)2011-09-22

Thank you. In my efforts to become domesticated somehow I missed acquiring this skill. The toothpick should save me from sewing the same button on repeatedly :D

scoochmaroo (author)2011-09-22

I have also had success by putting the toothpick on top of the button when sewing instead of underneath. Sometimes a bit easier to control, but same effect either way. Thanks for this tutorial!

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
More by jessyratfink:DIY Gold SlimeHow to Hand Embroider Flowers How to Clean A Coffee Maker with Citric Acid
Add instructable to: