Everyone thinks they can sew buttons onto their clothes, but how many times have you seen them misaligned, sitting on top of lumps of thread, or hanging off again within a couple of washes?
Preparing to sew
Ensure your button will fit nicely through the button hole. Choose the correct size and shape, then line up the facing sides – overlap the button holes onto the sides where the buttons will be sewn. Ensure the right side is outwards, and line up the bottoms of the garment sides to ensure they match.
Pin your edges together to ensure they stay together when you mark your button positions. Then, stick a pin through the button hole, about 3mm from the front edge. Make sure the pin goes through all the layers of fabric underneath, and repeat with all the buttonholes. These pins now mark where the buttons will be sewn.
Turn the garment over to the wrong side, and see where the pins come out. Go back to the right side and see where the pins go through the top layer of the garment onto the places where the buttons will sit. Mark those spots with an X in chalk or tailor’s tacks. Pull out all the pins. You’re now ready to sew.
Sewing on by hand:
With your garment right-side up, make a few anchor stitches in the cross of your X. The aim is not to go through the whole fabric, but to confine your stitching to the top layers. (After you’ve completed the sewing, you should see no stitching on the inside facing of the garment.)
After two or three small stitches, poke your needle through one of the button’s holes, or through the loop underneath a covered button. Place a toothpick over the button’s holes, and carefully stitch to the hole facing diagonally, or the second hole in a two-hole button. This allows for enough thread for your button hole to sit nicely underneath when the stitching is complete.
Carefully push your needle through the top layers of fabric, avoiding going right through, and push your needle up either in one of the unstitched holes, or back to the first hole in a two-hole button. Repeat the process four times to ensure the button is secured. For a covered button, stitch through four or five times without the toothpick as the loop will create space for the buttonhole side. Be careful not to pull your stitches too tight.
Remove the toothpick, and create a thread shank under the button by circling the thread around your stitches under the button seven or eight times. Stitch into the shank with your needle to secure the thread, then wind your thread around your needle six times, stitch into the shank again and you will have created a secure knot to keep your button in place. Trim your thread, and your work is done. This technique is also very useful when finishing off sewing on decorative buttons, from myfabrics.co.uk.
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