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in: Accessories, Style & Grooming, Visual Guides

September 8, 2017 Last updated: December 31, 2019

How to Sew a Button: Your 60-Second Guide

how to sew a button illustration diagram

You might think that sewing isn’t a manly skill, and rely on your mom or wife to replace buttons for you when they’ve popped off a shirt or pair of pants. Yet men of yore often knew darn well knew how to patch a hole, mend a jacket, and yes, replace a button; if they lost one while marching to battle, sailing the seas, or simply traveling the world, they couldn’t rely on someone else to do it! It’s a skill that contributes to self-sufficiency.

Picking up a few basic sewing skills can prove exceptionally helpful even in modern times, especially in tight situations like losing the button on a dress shirt before an important meeting. To be extra prepared, consider carrying an emergency sewing kit with you in your travel bag, along with extra buttons in a few basic styles and colors. And don’t forget that most of your dress shirts, jackets, and pants have spare buttons sewn into the fabric near the pockets or edges of the fabric, so when the time comes to break out your new skill, they’ll be ready and waiting for your needle and thread.

In the guide above, we feature the parallel pattern for stitching a 4-hole button. You could also go with a square, an X, or even an arrow. With a 2-hole button, your options are obviously limited to just one pattern.

1: Thread your needle with -24″ of thread, pulling it halfway through so you have equal lengths on both sides of the needle, and then tie the loose ends together.

2: Starting on the back side of the fabric, pass the needle through the fabric and pull your thread nearly all the way through.

3: Return the needle and thread through the button side and the back side, creating a hash mark. Repeat this process at a perpendicular angle to create an X on the button side of the fabric.

4: Place the button on the X mark before passing the needle from the back side of the fabric up through one of the button holes.

5: Position a spare needle or toothpick across the button before returning the needle and thread through the opposite hole. Pull the thread taut.

6: Continue sewing through the button holes, through the button holes, passing through opposite holes each time and always pulling the thread tight, until you have passed through each set of holes three times.

7: Secure the base of the button by wrapping it with a portion of the remaining thread. Aim for six tight loops around the base.

8: Pass the needle through to the back side of the fabric at the base of the button, pulling it taut, then tie off with a simple overhand knot.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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