#1. Choose the Right Button. Whether you are purchasing a button at the store or choosing one from a selection at home, to sew a button it must fit right. Choose one that matches the size of the button hole. Try sliding it through as if you were actually buttoning it. The button shouldn’t be too hard to go through the buttonhole, nor should it be so small it won’t stay buttoned.
#2. Choose the Right Thread. If the button came off from too much pressure, you will need a strong thread to sew the button on. If you already have thread at home, this is okay because I will tell you how to make a stronger stitch. You can match the color of the thread to the color of the button if you like.
#3. Use a Thimble. This is especially important if you are going to sew a button by hand onto thicker material. You use the thimble to push the needle through the material. I prefer metal because my needle seems to slip more on plastic thimbles. Maybe I just need more practice.
#4. Choose the Right Needle. If you are going to sew a button on thicker material, you will need a sharper needle that’s not too thick. This will make it easier to go through the material.
#5. Scissors. You will need scissors to cut the thread.
#6. Thread the Needle. If your needle has a small eye, you may want to use a needle threader. First, cut off a length of thread about two feet long (I like to work with a longer length so I don’t run out of thread and it makes knotting at the end easier). Slip one end of the thread through the eye of the needle. Bring the two ends of thread together letting the needle slide to the middle of the strand. Tie the two ends together in a knot. Then knot it again at least two more times, trying to knot in the same place. The bigger the knot, the less chance it has on coming back out of the material. Now you have a double-thick strand of thread to sew a button.
#7. Sew the Button On. In hand sewing, you’re supposed to work from one side of the fabric only. When I sew a button by hand, I prefer to work from both sides. Starting from the back side, slide the needle through the fabric and bring it out the front side of the fabric, using the thimble if necessary. The next step will depend on the type of button you are using.
-Two Hole Buttons. To sew a button with two holes, slide the button over the needle already through the fabric. Holding the button steady, put the needle back through the second hole, through the fabric and out the backside of the fabric. Pull the thread through, but don’t pull it too tight. The thread must leave a small gap for buttoning to work properly. If you sew the button on too tight it may not button. If you sew the button too loose it will flop around. Put the needle through the back of the fabric again, coming out of the first hole. Put the needle back through the second hole and through the fabric to the back again. Repeat this two more times, so that you have four complete stitches.
-Three Hole Buttons. To sew a button with three holes, slide the button over the needle already through the fabric. Holding the button steady, put the needle back through the second hole, through the fabric and out the backside of the fabric. Pull the thread through, but don’t pull it too tight. See tips for how to sew a button with two holes. Put the needle back through the fabric again, coming out the hole that still doesn’t have thread through it. Put the needle through the first hole you started with, bringing the thread through the material to the back of the fabric. Continue moving around the button until you have six complete stitches, two showing between each button hole.
-Four Hole Buttons. To sew a button with four holes, slide the button over the needle already through the fabric. Holding the button steady, put the needle back through the hole diagonal from the first hole, through the fabric and out the backside of the fabric. Pull the thread through, but don’t pull it too tight. See tips for how to sew a button with two holes. Put the needle through the back of the fabric, coming out one of the holes that hasn’t been used yet. Put the needle through the hole diagonal from that one, through the fabric out the back. This will give you two stitches forming an “x”. Repeat two more times to reinforce the “x” stitch you have made.
-A Solid Front Button with the hole on the Back of the Button. To sew a button with a back hole, slide the hole down the needle. Put the needle back through the fabric about 1/8″ away from where it came out of the fabric. Pull tight for this type of button as it already has room to make buttoning easier. Repeat this at least three more times, I usually repeat five more times, just to be sure.
#8. Knotting the Button. After you sew a button, the needle should be back on the reverse side of the fabric. If it isn’t, bring it through a hole to come to the back. Loop the thread around where the needle came out as close to the fabric as possible. Insert the needle through the loop and pull through, using your fingers to keep the shrinking loop close to the material as possible. Repeat this, keeping each knot in the same place until the knot is big enough not to come back through the material.
This is how I sew a button by hand. There may be other ways, but even my husband can sew a button using this method that’s been passed through my family.