How To Sew a Button on By Machine

Do you know how to sew a button on with your sewing machine?

For those of you who don’t know how, or feel a little intimidated in trying, here’s my technique.

Find a button for the garment and push the button through the hole to make sure it fits.

Place the button over the original holes.

I use a long strip of Scotch tape to hold it in place:

I used to just hold it in place with my fingers, but I found that I inevitably had to answer the phone at this point (or something else) and it took time to reposition it when I got back to it.

This just saves me from fumbling around.

Next, I carefully drop the needle so that it enters one of the holes in the button.

Once that needle is down, I slide in a toothpick between the holes on the button and then drop the presser foot:

Ok , you’re probably wondering why in the world I am using a toothpick!

I am going to put in a thread shank.

What is a thread shank?

It helps the button sit up higher on the garment.

This is important so that when you button the garment, it has plenty of room to be buttoned. Without a thread shank, a garment may be really difficult to button.

(Note: if you have a thin garment, you probably don’t need a thread shank. But, if you have a thick garment like these shorts, you’ll need one.)

I decided I’d show you one in case you needed to make one on your garment.

If you’re still confused, keep reading and I think you’ll understand as we go along.

Next, I set my sewing machine for the widest zig zag stitch I have.

Then, I tighten up the stitch length to zero.

I don’t want the machine to advance while stitching this button on. I want it to stay right where it is.

Next, I hand turn the fly wheel on the machine to test and make sure the needle will go into the holes without hitting the sides of the holes.

I will only sew two holes at a time….in a horozontal fashion.

I’ll sew back and forth between those two holes maybe ten times or so making sure I keep a good grip on the toothpick so it doesn’t slide out of there.

Once those are sewn, I’ll lift the presser foot to the two unsewn holes and repeat the process.

At the end, do not cut off the threads.

Leave long tails.

When you are finished, it should look like this:

Next, peel off that Scotch tape:

Take the long tail of thread and thread it onto a needle.

Wind the thread (clockwise or counter clockwise) around the underside of the button until you get a thick “shank” underneath:

It should look like this from the side:

See? That extra height will help the two layers lay flat when the garment is buttoned.

Next, take the needle and push it through to the back side:

Tie a strong knot and clip your threads.

There you go.

At first, it may seem like it takes longer to do this than to hand sew a button on, but after you’ve done it a few times, I think you’ll see how fast it goes.

You may never want to hand sew a button on again!

Now, I’d love to hear your techniques on getting the same result…..

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5 Responses

  1. I have always wanted to do this but was never sure how far apart to set the ZZ stitch. I will give this technique a try. Also, I never drop my stitch length back to zero, I just drop my feed dogs and my stitching stays in one place, so that’s a new idea also.

  2. Great tutorial! I have been doing buttons JUST like you do for years and years. It always blows people’s mind when they see me do it, or I tell them my “great secret” (ha).
    I hope you will all try it, it is so easy and so QUICK !!!

  3. use your round darning foot to sew on buttons.(then you wont need tape). also if you run your needle and thread thru (3) times you wont have to tie a knot!

  4. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

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