How to Sew on A Button - Sewing Surgery 101

"I can't even sew on a button"
This is a refrain I have heard too many times from friends and customers. 
It's time to fix that.
This blog series (Sewing Surgery) will tackle a few of the most basic repairs, all of which can be done at home. 
And what better place to start than with the lamented button: 

101. Sewing on a Button 

(Jump to Top Tips)
Cut your thread.
This might seem straightforward but it is one of the most common mistakes I see when teaching. 
You never need more than your own armspan - any longer than that and you won't be able to pull the thread taut in one go, which means it will likely become tangled and knotted. 
Sewing a button on needs a maximum of 30cm. 

Thread the needle.

You can use a needle threader for this if you find it tricky. They are the metal coin thingy which comes in most free sewing kits. Poke the wire diamond through the eye of the needle, pass the thread through the diamond and then pull it back through the needle. It will drag the thread through with it. Ta-Da! 

Tie a knot in one end of the thread, if you are using fine thread you may have to do it a couple of times in one spot to make sure the knot is big enough. Trim away the little tail so you are left with a small neat knot. 



 


Button Positioning

If you are replacing an old button you might be able to find the correct positioning using the old thread or needle marks. 

If not don't worry, there is an easy way to do it. 

Do up all the other buttons and let the garment sit flat. Put your needle through the buttonhole. 

 


Stitching

Pop the needle up through any hole of the button and then bring the needle down through the hole diagonally opposite. Try to push the needle into the cloth as close as possible to the first stitch and come out again all in one fluid motion (the needle should be parallel to the cloth). Use the little finger on your needle hand to control the tension of the thread. Stick it out like you're drinking tea with the Queen and hook it under the thread, with a flick of the wrist you can gently draw the thread back. 

Speaking of which, don't pull the thread as tight as possible or you won't be able to get the buttonhole to do up. If you keep your thumb underneath the button as you tighten the thread you will give yourself the right amount of space. 

6 or 7 stitches is plenty. Then do the same with the opposite two holes (creating a cross with the thread). 

 

 

 

Sewing on a button


Finishing

Keeping your thumb under the button will make it feel a little loose and vulnerable. Wrap the remaining thread around the thread underneath the button to create a strong neck. The neck needs to be as long as the thickness of the buttonhole. If you are working with very fine, lightweight material then it doesn't need to be very long. If you are working with thick, heavy tweed then it will need to be a bit longer. Feed the needle onto the underside of the fabric. Make a very small stitch and feed the needle through the loop to create a knot. Do this twice to secure it and then trim away any remaining excess thread. 

Sewing On a ButtonSewing a button


Top Tips

1.  Don't cut the thread too long. It will just get tangled. 20cm is plenty. 
2. Keep your thumb under the button to stop yourself pulling it too tight. 
3. Use your little finger to control the tension of the thread. 

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