Shh…the secret of how to sew buttons by hand

I know it’s something that seems so simple.

I mean, who doesn’t know how to sew buttons by hand, right? Button, needle, thread, scissors….stick the needle in the holes back and forth, and, poof, finished.


Well, maybe you know there’s more than that. For a long time, though, I didn’t. I learned this method from a sewing judge two years ago when my daughter did 4-H Sewing. She thought my daughter’s blouse was lovely (she ended up winning her category and went to state), but said my daughter needed to re-sew the buttons.


The sewing judge described her method, and I was in love.
The secret tip on how to sew buttons by hand, on Clever!

This method applies to buttons without a shank. See, when they don’t have a shank, they need extra love. They need for you to make ’em one. A button with a thread shank will remain more secure and make buttoning/unbuttoning much easier!

What you’ll need:

* As you can guess…needle, thread, button, scissors
* Toothpick

How to sew buttons by hand

Thread your needle with at least 24in of thread and double the thread (making the final amount of thread off the needle about 12in long). Knot the end with a secure knot using a quilter’s knot, but don’t make it super large.

Next, take a stitch in your fabric. Once the knot meets the fabric, give it a quick tug (it will make a popping sound) to force the knot into the fabric, burying it between the layers. Forever.



how to sew a button by sewmccool 1


Thread your needle through the hole of the button. Now, place the toothpick under the button between the holes (this button has two holes but if you have four, that’s fine too). Sew back and forth into the holes, straddling the toothpick.

how to sew buttons by sewmccool 2


After you’ve sewn through the holes several times, bring the needle back up to the front – but not into one of the buttonholes – and remove the toothpick. Pull the button up a little, so the thread is snug against the top of the button. Next, wind the thread under the button many times, creating several layers of thread that turn into a thread shank.

Knot the thread under the button and clip the thread.

Nice, huh?

how to sew a button by sewmccool 3

Want to know more about the dress in the first photo? Read about it in this post about adding side-seam pockets to skirts and dresses.


how to sew buttons finished bodice by sewmccool

For another fabulous method that I just read about – check out this button-sewing technique by Sew Maris!

Lots of neat ways to do things.

Do you have a button-sewing secret you’d like to share? Please tell us about it in the comments!


Deanna McCool writes for I hope you enjoyed learning the secret to sewing buttons by hand! To make sure you don’t miss any posts, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! :)



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  1. says

    Nice! I like how wrapping the thread around creates the space needed for the buttonhole to sit in. I don’t really get the first step though – does that mean you shouldn’t be able to see the initial knot from the back? I’d be worried this makes it insecure?
    Natalie Williams recently posted…May Sewing PlansMy Profile

    • Deanna McCool says

      Hi Natalie! Yes, this means you shouldn’t be able to see the initial knot from the back. It makes the back side neat and clean. I don’t think it makes it insecure – after all, there are a lot of stitches back and forth around it. And this way the knot doesn’t rub on your skin.

  2. Suzanne says

    I have had to sew a lot of buttons as my sons were in Cadets/Navy League and they had long wool double breasted dress coats. I used to sew their buttons like you showed but with dental floss (that I would color with a marker when done) so that I only had to sew them on once. Now I use dental floss for most buttons as it only requires a few passes through the holes of the buttons.

  3. Tori self says

    I use the same method, except that I often start on the outside of the garment, so that the knot is under the button instead of between the layers or touching the skin. If I make a large knot, I don’t even need a toothpick, needle, etc.

  4. says

    Thanks for the tip. I learned this method 50 years ago while learning to sew in high school. However, we were taught to use either another needle or preferably, a straight pin (depending on the fabric thickness) and put it on top of the button. Trying to keep the toothpick/pin from moving/sliding underneath while sewing may be tricky/difficult. Now that I’m retired, I’m gettin g back into sewing (it’s been over 40 years since I did any sewing…)and am so excited to find some wonderful and exciting blogs/websites. One of the better things about the internet. Thanks again.

  5. Deanna McCool says

    Judi, that’s brilliant – and yes, easier! I appreciate the tip and am so glad you’ve shared it. Hope you’re having fun as you get back into sewing!


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