Learning how to sew a button with a sewing machine can save you valuable time, particularly when you have numerous buttons to sew on a shirt or dress. Have you ever tried sewing tiny buttons on men’s shirts? They are everywhere. Ahh, way too much work! Done correctly, sewing buttons with a sewing machine also creates strongly held buttons that won’t fall off after washing and general wear and tear.
Once you have practiced how to sew a button with a sewing machine you will want to do this every time.
How to Sew a Button with a Sewing Machine
This technique can be used to sew 2 hole or 4 hole buttons but the buttons should be relatively fat for the best results. Thick or domed buttons may not fit under the foot and will slip around so you will need to test it first.
In order to sew a button with your sewing machine, you will need a button foot. It generally has a very wide open toe for the button to sit under and is specially shaped to hold the button in place. You can purchase a generic one to fit most low shank machines.
ALTERNATIVE: Now if you can’t get hold of a special button foot, don’t worry. You can actually use this same technique with a zig-zag or general foot. Just make sure the opening at the toe (where the needle goes in) is a bit wider than the holes in the button.
Your button foot should snap on like most regular feet and you can thread your machine as you normally do. This close up reminds me that my machine needs a bit of a clean!
Try and use a quality thread that won’t break in the long term.
On your fabric, mark the position of your button. If you are worried about the button moving as you sew you can hold it in place with a bit of clear tape and remove it when you have finished sewing.
Place the button under the foot with the holes lined up in the open toe.
Put your machine on a zig-zag with a 0.0 stitch length. With a stitch length of 0.0, it will zig-zag from side to side without moving forwards.
The width will depend on the exact position of the buttonholes. This small button had a width of 4.0.
Just use your hand wheel to make sure the width is correct and won’t hit the sides of the button.
IMPORTANT: If you put your foot on the sewing machine pedal before you have checked the needle is going through the holes correctly you might break a needle. Full disclosure – yes I broke a needle on my first attempt at this button. It had been a while since I’d sewn one with my machine and I forgot to check!
Once you have used the hand wheel to do the first couple of stitches, put your foot down and it will zig-zag from hole to hole. Stop when you think you have enough threads. You don’t need to be excessive.
Take the button out of the machine.
Pull the threads to the back and knot off the ends.
A 4 hole button is sewn the same way except that you will repeat the process for each set of holes. You can choose to go across twice like I did in the photo below or diagonally to make a cross shape.
So now you know how to sew a button with a sewing machine you can save precious time for more enjoyable things.
If your button is not suitable for sewing with your machine, then you will need to hand sew it on. My tutorial on how to sew a button by hand will give you instructions for 2 holes, 4 holes and shank buttons.