18 April 2011

How to Sew on a Button

Picture of button jar
I'm forever sewing buttons back on shirts and trousers for the boys and Wayne. This one simple mending task has saved us so much money over the years, especially on school shirts with three kids all wearing white business shirts five days a week. You have no idea how many buttons I've had to sew back on. Add to that Wayne's work shirts - he loses at least two buttons a week just doing his job. He gets caught on car doors or bits of metal regularly. Most of the time he finds the button and brings it home, but often I have to resort to the button jar.

I'm not sure what I'd do without a button jar.

The button jar in the picture is mine, all mine, and full of buttons to be used up. Some of them are special, cut off favourite garments when they've been reduced to rags. Others are cut off school shirts or work shirts before they go to the rag bag, and used to replace lost buttons. Others are tiny, for baby clothes and still others are the spare buttons that come with new clothes when you buy them.

I am a bit of a button hoarder. Nothing goes to the rag bag unless the buttons have been cut off and put into the button jar. If you've had to buy buttons lately you'll understand why I do this. Buttons are hideously expensive, especially pretty ones. Four or five buttons can cost just as much as the fabric or wool for a garment if you don't watch what you buy, I know, I've almost been caught a few times.

I don't know how often I've heard people say "but I don't even know how to sew on a button" as an excuse for buying a new shirt or throwing a perfectly good shirt in the rag bag and honestly it nearly drives me mad. Sewing on a button is simple and easy, if I can do it anyone can. In fact it's so easy I'm going to share my step-by-step instructions for sewing on a button, just as I was taught to do way back in high school. I still sew buttons on the same way.


You'll need:
The button - make sure it matches the others on the garment
A sewing needle
Matching thread - choose thread to match the colour of the button
Two matches

How to sew on a button without a shank
These are generally the flat two or four hole buttons used on shirts, cardigans etc

Instructions:
Step 1. Mark the position of the button with two matches.
Step 2 . Place the button on the matches.
Step 3. Thread the needle with a double length of thread.
Step 4. From the wrong side, bring the needle through the button and down again into the fabric until 8 strands are sewn in this way.
Step 5. For the final time take the needle down through the button only, do not go right through to the wrong side of the fabric.
Step 6. Remove the matches.
Step 7. Wind the thread tightly around the strands between the button and the garment to form a shank.
Step 8. Take the needle through to the wrong side of the fabric and fasten off securely with two small backstitches.

How to sew on a button with a shank
This is almost the same method as for a shirt button.

Instructions:
Step 1. Mark the position of the button with tailors chalk.
Step 2 . Place the button shank on the mark.
Step 3. Thread the needle with a double length of thread.
Step 4. From the wrong side of the garment, bring the needle up and pass it through the shank and down again into the fabric. Repeat until 8 strands are sewn in this way.
Step 5.Take the needle through to the wrong side of the fabric and fasten off securely with two small backstitches

Now you have no excuse - you know how to sew on a button!

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