Sew a Button

A couple weeks ago, my favorite work shirt lost the second-to-last button in the row. I thought, “No big deal. It won’t bother me that much.” Boy, was I wrong. That missing button drove me crazy, but I was being lazy. I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to sew on a button.

I know – “Becca! You’re supposed to learn that in, like, the fourth grade!”

Well, I didn’t. I thought it was a useless skill – a lost art. I ignored that lost button as long as I could – two weeks to be exact – but unless I was going to throw away every article of clothing that lost a button, I figured now was the time to learn to sew one on.

If you’re like me, here’s your step-by-step chance to learn how to sew a four-hole button on a shirt. If you are better with visual learning, check out the YouTube video at the bottom of this page. If you know how to sew one on in a different way, share in the comments below.

Image result for sewing gif

Me, except with more finger-stabbing.

Things you’ll need:

  • Shirt (minus one button)
  • Scissors
  • Button, preferably the one that fell off or one that matches the rest of the buttons (Most shirts come with an extra one in a little package or sewn onto the bottom)
  • Thread, preferably some that matches whatever you’re sewing it on and the button
  • Thin needle

Step 1: Preparing the thread. Thread your needle. If it’s difficult to thread, moisten or cut off the end. Move the needle approximately 12 inches down the thread. Double the thread by measuring the 12 inch-side to the uncut side. Cut the thread so there is 12 inches on both sides of the needle. Tie a knot in the thread by wrapping the ends once around your finger, rolling it against your finger, and pulling the knot tight. Here’s a YouTube Video on that, just in case.

Step 2: Getting started. Grab the top layer of your shirt. Flip to the reverse side of that layer. There should already be a hole where the first button was; use that as your guide. Thread the needle through the fabric and pull the thread all the way through until the knot catches on the back side. Slide the button over the needle and down the thread to the fabric. The ridged side of the button should face upward.

Step 3: button-153944_960_720.pngSecuring your button. Look at the alignment of the other buttons to find out how you want the new button secured. Push the button against the thread so the thread is as close to the middle as it can be. Stick the needle in the button hole diagonal from the one the is already through (as close to the middle of the button as you can to secure it). Watch your fingers! Pull the thread all the way through the fabric to hold the button tightly on the shirt. Repeat sticking the button through these two holes three more times. Try to sew through the fabric in the exact same spot every time.

After your fourth time reaching the reverse side of your shirt’s top layer, switch to the other diagonal. Be sure to stay as close to the center as you can and pull the thread all the way through. Do this four times as well.

Step 4: Making the button stand off the shirt. After you are finished securing the button, push the needle to the front side one more time BUT not through the button, pulling the thread all the way through. Wrap the thread four times around the base of the button, and thread it back to the reverse side of the fabric.IMG_9681.jpg

Step 5: Finishing with a stitch. Use your needle to get under one or two of your diagonal stitches. Pull under the stitch and through the fabric without pulling all the thread through; it should make a loop. Put your needle through the loop, and pull it tight to make a knot in the fabric. You can do it more than once if necessary. Cut off the excess thread and needle, but not too close to the fabric. My sister also suggests coating the threads on the back side with clear nail polish for extra security.


I think mine turned out all right for my first time, minus the couple needle-stabbing injuries. How did yours turn out? Do you prefer four-hole buttons or two-hole buttons? Share in the comments below.

Need more instructions of clarification? Watch this YouTube video on hand sewing a button.


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