Knowing how to sew a button on a garment can help solve potentially embarrassing situations. It also can return otherwise sound pieces of clothing to daily use or allow you to spruce up your wardrobe without buying new clothes. Buttons are the most popular type of closure for clothes. They also are the easiest to repair or replace.
Standard button-sewing technique
Sewing on a button has two main objectives: The button must be secure, and it must not be too tight against the fabric. The button should go through the buttonhole easily and hold snugly on the other side. If it's sewn too tightly to the fabric, it can't do that. It will cause the fabric to pucker, and it won't look right. Eventually, it will weaken the fabric.
Start with strong cotton or silk thread, doubled and knotted at one end. Use a needle that can go through the holes in the button or shank several times without difficulty. The needle also must be strong enough to move easily through your fabric. For instance, a heavier fabric like canvas may need a stronger needle.
Run the needle through the button, and then between the threads on the knotted end. Pull snug. Now run the needle down through the fabric and back up through the fabric and the holes in the button. Run through the fabric again, down and then up. But before coming up through the button, wrap the thread twice behind the button, around the threads between the button and fabric, before returning up through the button. (Skip this part if you're sewing a shank button). Repeat the process several times, alternating holes in the button if it has more than two.
To tie the button off, weave the needle through the thread on the wrong side of the fabric several times, allowing it to hold tight without an additional knot. Once secure, trim the excess thread.
Variations on run-of-the-mill buttons
If you need to repair or replace a button on a garment, this is a great opportunity to make an outfit truly unique to you or to add accent pieces to tie in other parts of an outfit. Experiment with different types of buttons, button covers or thread patterns for more unique looks. Try forming your first initial in six-hole buttons, forming squares or zigzags in four-hole buttons and more. Truly unique buttons also are easy to make with a variety of popular craft and household items.
Sewing a button on a garment is one of the easiest-and most useful-tricks to know. It will save you a bundle at the dry cleaner's or tailor's, too.