While sewing a button may seem like a no brainer, there are different ways of doing it. Some methods bring better results than others so I thought I would share the way I do it. I tend to fine tune any process down to the bare bones that will get the best results with the most efficient effort. Hope this helps you if you have been wondering about the How-To of button sewing.
*As you can see below, I shot the images using a large thread, needle and button for clarity.
*The written descriptions coincide with the image below it.
From the spool, pull off more thread than you need as it makes it easier to work with. BUT don't pull off so much that you create problems for yourself. In this case I cut off about 2 feet. Once cut, thread the needle and pull the ends of the threads even. DO NOT MAKE A KNOT. I know that is the usual thing to do but by NOT knotting the threads it reduces the bump created by the knot. The end result lays more flat and has a more professional look. And NO. The button will not come loose. I will show you why later.
Next, position the button in the correct location and insert the needle from behind into one of the holes in the button leaving a tail thread of at least 2".
Once the thread is through to the front it is helpful to pin a straight pin directly under the holes in the button in a crosswise fashion. Why? This creates space for a shank which raises the button away from the fabric making room for the buttonhole to 'settle' in around it. If the button is too tight against the fabric the buttonhole tends to spread apart and not lay flat.
Next, making sure the button is positioned correctly on the front side, insert needle into the 2nd hole (from the top) and push through to the back. Be sure to hold the button in place and pull the threads taut without pulling the tail through to the front.
Insert the needle into the same hole as the first stitch and bring up into the first hole in the button. Pull the thread in the back all the way through to the front, checking to make sure it is laying flat on the back side. Insert the needle (from the front) in the 2nd hole again and repeat, again pulling the thread all the way through and checking for neatness. Repeat these steps several times until button is secured. I like to sew through at least 8 to 10 times, however the thickness of the fabric, the thread type and different buttons will dictate what process is best. Use your best judgment to determine this.
Once the button has been sewn, remove the straight pin and bring the needle from the back side into the stitching UNDER the button but on top of the front of the fabric. Pull all the way through to the front.
Once the needle is pulled through and the thread is smoothed out on the back and pulled taut to the front, wrap the shank 3 or 4 times. Then insert the needle into the shank.
Pull the needle through the shank and once a loop has been created put the needle through the loop and pull very tightly. Reinsert the needle into the shank and repeat this process, again, pulling very tightly. These knots will lock everything down and which is why you didn't need a knot on the backside. Once you have made 2 tight knots and are sure they are tight, Carefully using the tips of your scissors, clip off the threads under the button leaving a short tail.
Next, clip the threads on the back leaving a short tail. Smooth out the back of the fabric to lay flat. When super-tightening the knots on the shank, the back tends to get a bit bunchy.
And there you have it! A beautifully and professionally sewn button.
This is the basic lesson on a two-hole button but buttons come in many forms. While the techniques for button-sewing are similar for all of them, different types will dictate different ways of applying them. Probably the most common variation to the 2-hole is the 4-hole which is frequently found on shirts and jackets. Four-hole buttons can be sewn like the 2-hole as a straight stitch in each set of holes, or in an X pattern. Some buttons come with built in shanks such as on suit jackets or bridal gowns. These are sewn in a straight stitch with the sewn stitches 'biting' enough of the fabric under the button as to hold it securely without being so wide as to be seen. When sewing shanked buttons I tend to knot at the back of the fabric so as to hide them from view. Shanked buttons can 'tip' and it looks neater to have no visible knots showing.
Sewing buttons neatly and well takes a bit of practice but by being careful with each step you will succeed every time and save yourself having to bug your mom to do it for you. ;D
Happy sewing everyone! Cheers!!