How to Sew on a Button!




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

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.

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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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!



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    34 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Terrific instructions! Thanks


    3 years ago on Step 9

    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)

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 10

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

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    It's easy kwokhn2 and I'm only 11


    4 years ago

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

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


    5 years ago on Step 8

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


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks- I finally fixed 5 pairs of shorts!


    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

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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

    7 years ago on Step 8

    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! =]


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.