Learning how to sew a button on a shirt must be counted as an essential life skill. It never goes amiss in student campus living, moving away from home, boarding school or even going on holiday. You never know when a button is going to give up and pop off the shirt you are planning to wear – Usually just as you are about to walk out the door or go somewhere important! Men, women, boys and girls could all benefit from knowing how to sew a button on a shirt.
How to Sew a Button on a Shirt
Here is what you will need when learning how to sew a button on a shirt:
- BUTTON – A button to the same size or the one original one that fell off. Check the inside of your shirt as there may be a spare button sewn into the side seam. Shirts normally have flat buttons with 2 or 4 holes. If you have a shank button that has no holes on top go to my article on how to sew a button.
- THREAD – Thread to match the other buttons. The thread may match the button itself or the fabric underneath. If I am not matching anything, I like to use thicker threads so it is quicker to sew the buttons on.
- NEEDLE – A needle to go through the buttonholes. General-purpose needles are called sharps (Read: Hand Needle Types)
- CUTTER – Small sharp scissors.
- MARKER – A water-soluble marking pen if new buttons are being put on for the first time. Don’t use a regular felt pen as the ink may bleed on your shirt when you wash it. If you need to improvise, a sliver of soap will mark darker fabrics.
- SHIRT – And lastly, of course, the fabric or shirt to sew the button onto.
If you are planning to be away or are regularly prone to having buttons popping off, purchase a cheap little sewing kit to keep handy in the event of an emergency button repair.
How to Sew a Button on a Shirt – STEPS
Step 1 – Mark Position
Start by marking the spot if this is a new button or use the same spot the old button fell off. Mark the spot on the right side (the outside )of the shirt.
Step 2 – Thread Needle
Thread your needle with a double thread. (Read how to thread a needle).
Step 3 – Starter Stitch
From the right side of the fabric, put the needle down and then come up a short distance away. This way the button will hide your knot.
Step 4 – Through Holes
Insert the needle through the underside of the button and up through the button to the right side.
Hold the button on the fabric with a finger and push the needle through the hole on the other side. For a 4 hole button, you will sew across diagonally. (Unless you are copying other buttons on a shirt which are stitched side to side.)
TIP FOR HOW TO SEW A BUTTON ON A SHIRT: If the button keeps moving or slipping, then hold it in place with some clear tape which you can remove when you are finished.
Step 5 – Create Height
Pull the button up gently and slip a pin or toothpick under that first stitch. The added length created in the threads will be used to create a shank. A shank is easily created by sewing over a toothpick or pin while you stitch through the holes of the button. This just allows the button to fit better if the fabric is a bit thicker or has more than one layer as is common in most shirt fronts.
Continue to sew from side to side to secure the button. Make sure you have enough stitches so that your button is nice and tight.
If you have a 2 hole button skip to the next step. If you have a 4 hole button, then stitch across the other holes to form a cross shape.
Step 6 – Wind and Finish
On the last stitch, bring the thread through the back of the fabric to the space under the button.
Remove the pin. Wind the thread around the longer threads under the button. 3-4 times is usually enough. This will lift the button up off the fabric slightly.
Knot off the thread under the button. You do this by taking a tiny stitch underneath the button. Before the loop of thread is pulled tight, put the needle back through the loop. Repeat this a couple of times.
Step 7 – Cut
Cut your threads with your sharp little scissors. All this will be hidden by the button so your underside will look nice and flat.
How to Sew a Button on a Shirt – In Conclusion
Being able to know how to sew a button on a shirt and having a little sewing kit at hand, will make your life a lot easier in times of emergency. There’s nothing like being prepared when you just need to stitch on a button at the last minute.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to sew a button on a shirt!