• Lindsey

Sewing Basics: How to Sew on a Button

Welcome to Stylecamp's #sewingbasics series, here to help curb the boredom during the unprecedented pandemic #lockdown! Sewing is such a therapeutic way to pass the time and overall a really useful skill to have. Since we've all got a bit of time on our hands, there's no better time to learn some basic mending skills!

Coinciding nicely with my #slowfashion series, a philosophy all about buying well and buying items to last, it's also really important to take care of of the clothes you already have. After doing a responsible wardrobe clear out recently, I've identified some items in my wardrobe that could do with a bit of attention, starting with buttons.


In mass-produced garments, buttons are usually attached by machine as a time-saving and cheaper method for the manufacturer, however the structure of the finished stitch has nothing like the strength of a hand-sewn button. It's often why you'll find machine-sewn buttons loosening after significant wear.

You can of course use a sewing machine to re-attach buttons (refer to your manual for how to do this), however it's preferable to hand-sew a button if you have the time - it's only a 5 minute job!


Sewing thread, needles, scissors, a pin and button

  • A needle

  • General purpose thread in a matching or colour of your choice

  • Button(s)

  • Pins

We'll start by noting the different types of button - 2-hole, 4-hole and shank. The two former are usually a flat style with two or four holes respectively, while a shank button tends to be more rounded with a solid loop on the underside. For this tutorial we'll be specifically looking at 4-hole buttons, but effectively the same principles apply to any button.


Double up your thread for extra strength
Double up the thread for extra strength

Cut a length of thread, I usually use about an arm's length, and pull it all the way through your needle so that it doubles up to give the thread more strength. It's also easier to tie a decent knot at the end by doing it this way.

Sew an 'x' to anchor the button
Sew an 'X' marks the spot to anchor the button

Knot the threads together at the ends and find the position on your garment where your button had previously been attached. Starting underneath, pass the needle through the fabric layers four times, making an 'X' marks the spot anchor point for your button.

How to sew on a button
Follow the direction of the stitches of the other buttons on your garment

Passing the needle back through to the outwards facing side of your garment, thread it through the first hole of your button and then back through the opposite, paying attention to the sewing method used on any other buttons on the garment - e.g in a crossover pattern or in straight lines.

How to sew on a button
Use your thumb to hold the button in place as you sew

It's a bit fiddly, but use the thumb of your non-stitching hand to hold the button in place while you draw the thread back down through the fabric layer, using your previous stitches as a guide.

How to sew on a button
Insert a pin between the fabric and button to give it some elevation

Before you pull the thread completely taught, insert a pin between the button and fabric layers and in-between your stitches, using the same thumb to hold the button and pin in place. You want a little elevation between the button and surface of the fabric so that the button won't pull on the fabric.

How to sew on a button
Sew until the button feels secure, without pulling too tightly

Use your anchor stitches for reference as you keep passing the needle and thread through the holes a few more times until the button starts to feel secure. Don't overdo it or pull too tightly as it can put stress on the fabric and cause it to weaken.

How to sew on a button
After the last stitch, wrap the threads around the base of the button 3-6 times for strength

When you're ready, remove the pin and pass the needle through the final hole of the button, but instead of piercing the fabric, you want to wrap thread around the stitches in a circular motion about 6 times, pulling your stitches tightly together to strengthen them.

Send the needle back through the fabric one last time to the underside before tying it off securely. Trim any excess thread and you're done!


See my other tutorials on Basic Hand Stitches and also How to Sew an Elastic Waistband. Check back soon for more #sewingbasics tutorials!