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Hand Sewing Buttons Tutorial

Learn how to sew on a button and make a buttonhole by hand.

By: Krista Childers for AllFreeSewing.com
Hand Sewing Buttons Tutorial

Learn how to sew on a button by hand with these tutorials. Sewing buttons is a simple skill to learn but many of us don't know we need it until one of our buttons falls off. Of course, if you are a sewist, learning how to sew a button is vitally important when making any buttoned projects.

Below, you will find two different step-by-step tutorials for hand sewing buttons. The first tutorial explains how to sew a two-hole button. The second is how to sew a four-hole button. Both are common button types but each has its own directional rules.

As a bonus, we are also including a tutorial for how to sew a buttonhole. Scroll down to find a video tutorial by Angel Peterson on How to Make a Button Hole using a sewing machine. Then we have a tutorial on how to sew a buttonhole by hand.

Once you learn how to sew a button and how to make button holes, you will be all set for making your own closeable garments, adding closures on bags and purses, and more.

If you don't plan on making any of those things, we promise the next time a button falls off something you're wearing, you will be glad you learn how to replace a button. So, be sure to check out every step-by-step we have below to help.

How to Sew on a Button by Hand

Learn how to replace a button or sew a button on a shirt, dress, or any light piece of fabric. This hand button sewing method is a simple way to sew a basic button, whether it has two holes or four holes.

We asked Remona from The Stitching Scientist for her best tip when hand sewing buttons. She says,

"I always use double-threaded needed when I sew buttons. It secures the button faster and stronger than a single-threaded needle."

This makes it stronger with less effort, which is always a plus in our book. You can double up the thread or use a heavier-weighted thread, too. It depends on what material you are sewing as well. Once you start sewing buttons, you will see what works for you and with the fabrics you are sewing.

Materials
Button
Thread
Needle
Scissors
Ruler (optional)
Pin (optional)

How to Sew a 2-Hole Button:

  1. Gather your materials.

    Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. The length of your thread will vary on the size of your button but about 15-20 inches should be enough.

    Note: Use strong thread or double the string so that it is stronger. You will want this button to hold! Always use a color that matches your fabric or a color that you want to be seen as it will be visible.

    Also, adding a tail (as shown in image 3 below) will allow you to tie the thread once you finished, which helps create a more secure hold.

  2. Hold the button down on the fabric in the correct positioning. Use a ruler if needed to measure where the buttonhole on the corresponding side is or will be.

  3. While holding the button in place, push the threaded needle up through the back of one of the holes in your button. Pull until your knot/excess thread reaches the back of the fabric.

  4. Push the needle through the second hole from the front of the button through to the back. Do not pull tight but make sure that all of the excess thread has moved through.

    Notes:
    Remember, you want a little bit of extra space between the fabric and button so that it is functional. For reference, look at one of the shirts in your closet. This is more of an issue with 4-hole buttons but it's still important to remember when hand sewing buttons.

    A trick to assure your thread is not pulled too taut is to place a pin or needle between the holes on the front of your button while making your first stitch through (image 3 below). Remove the pin when you are finished stitching.

  5. Push the threaded needle through the original hole from the back to the front once again.

  6. Push it through the other hole from the front to the back (this is a repeat process of steps 3 and 4 above).

  7. Repeat steps 3 and 4 one to two more times. You should be able to loosen your grip on the button after the second pass.

    Try lightly pulling your button to determine if you have sewn enough thread through the two holes. If it seems like it is strong enough, move on to the next step. If not, continue sewing through the button holes until you are ready to finish.

  8. Optional: Remove the pin from the notes in step 4 if necessary. If you want some extra strength and space between the button and fabric, you can wrap the thread around the thread pieces that are under the button but above the fabric.

    This means you will push the threaded needle through the second hole on the front of the button down but not through the fabric. Your needle will be in between the button and fabric.

    Wrap the thread three to five times and then push the threaded needle down the center through the fabric to the back of your piece. This is referred to as a "shank" for your button.

  9. To finish, instead of going up through the hole as done previously, run the threaded needle horizontally through the back set of thread stitches two to three times in different directions to tighten.

    You can also pull a little of the fabric through as well as an extra measure of security.

  10. Cut the thread with enough excess to tie and then take the two strand (or four if you doubled) and knot them together. Cut off the remaining extra thread.

    Your button is sewn!

How to Sew a 4-Hole Button:

  1. Follow steps 1–4 in the How to Sew a 2-Hole Button step-by-step above.

    Note: At this point, you have passed the thread through two of your four button holes. You will be making an "X" with the thread across all four button holes.

    Note: You don't have to create an "X" but rather create two straight lines, like "I I". Whichever you choose, stay consistent while sewing.

  2. Push the threaded needle up through the third button hole.

  3. Push the threaded needle down into the fourth hole (the last one without any thread through it) and all the way to the back.

  4. Repeat the process of pushing the threaded needle up through the first hole and down the second, and then up the third hole and down the fourth. Repeat at least two more times and then determine if it's strong enough to move to the final stages.

    Try lightly pulling your button to determine if you have sewn enough thread through the two holes. If it seems like it is strong enough, move on to the next step.

  5. To finish, follow steps 8 –10 in the How to Sew a 2-Hole Button step-by-step above.

    Your button is sewn!

PLUS! How to Sew a Buttonhole by Hand

If you are sewing a new garment or adding buttons to any fabric piece, you need to know how to make buttonholes. It's not as simple as cutting a slit into the fabric but it is fairly straightforward when you understand the steps and how to correctly create the hole so it lasts. Always do a test run on a scrap piece of fabric of the same type you will be using before making a buttonhole on your final piece.

Messing up this hole can ruin a garment, so it is vital you get it right.
When it comes to buttonholes, it is important that the hole fits the size of button you are using. It is also important that it doesn't widen with use. That's why slitting open a strip won't work. Once you start moving the button in and out, it will start to fray and eventually open too far to hold the button.

There are several different methods to hand sewing a buttonhole. In the tutorial below, we are doing the simplest method, which is perfect for beginners. If you are experienced, you can still follow along but feel free to use the buttonhole stitch or another fancier stitch to finish your buttonhole.

With this tutorial, you will learn how to make a buttonhole like a pro. This is beneficial if you are making a new shirt, coat, or purse or if you want to add buttons to already made projects that didn't feature them before.

Watch the How to Make a Button Hole video tutorial right below to show you how to make a button hole on a sewing machine or keep going to follow along with our step-by-step directions and pictures for how to make a buttonhole by hand.



Materials
Needle
Strong thread
Button
Fabric pencil
Ruler
Scissors/utility knife
Quilting pins

  1. Mark your buttonhole using your button and fabric pencil.

    Place the button over the area of the fabric where the buttonhole will be made. Draw a line on either side of the button. Pick up the button and draw a perpendicular line that connects the two lines you drew first. Use a ruler or straightedge to make the line straight.

    Notes:
    As long as you are using your button as a measurement device, your holes should be the correct size. You can also use the ruler to make precise measurements. Remember the hole needs to be slightly bigger so that the button can be pushed through.

    If you are creating a buttonhole for an odd-sized button, measure the widest diameter. If your button is thicker than the average button, you may need to make the hole opening wider by cutting away an extra strip of fabric.

  2. Place the quilting pins through the two edge lines to prevent you from cutting through the desired buttonhole length.

  3. Cut through the buttonhole line using scissors or a utility knife. Be sure that if you are using the utility knife that you have a self-healing mat or something for protection underneath. Remove the pins.

    Note: As mentioned previously, if your button is thick, you may need to cut out more fabric in your slit. Measure the button and then the fabric and cut as needed.

  4. Thread your needle. Stitch around the entire buttonhole opening. You want to use a strong and tight stitching method. Some of the best easy stitches for this sewing project are the blanket stitch, the straight stitch, or the stem stitch.

    Note: Use strong thread or double the string so that it is stronger. Always use a color of thread that matches your fabric or a color that you want to see as it will be visible.

  5. Lock your end stitch when finished and cut off excess thread.

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I lose a lot of buttons, so I have been sewing them back on for years. Though, it took a long time for me to figure out how to do it correctly.

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