Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Sew on a Button

Sadly, not every piece of thrift store clothing is perfect when you buy it. Some items have easy fixes, some not so much.

This is the first in a series of pieces on what to do when a piece that’s to die for isn’t in perfect condition.

What to Do When You’re Missing a Button

Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need
Scissors, needle, thread and button
You will need a needle, thread to match the garment, scissors and, of course, a button.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to recover the button from the garment. Many nicer pieces (particularly for coats and jackets) will have additional buttons sewn on to a tag. You can also check the pockets.

If you can’t find a matching button, you can try to find a button that matches at a local sewing store. You can also consider replacing all buttons, which enables you to give the piece a new look.

Step 2: Prepare your needle.
First, thread your needle. Then, you will want to leave approximately 12 inches on each side of the needle. 
Threaded needle
Knot your thread. A simple granny knot (double knotted) will work best here.

To form a granny knot, create a loop (as above), then thread the ends through the loop and pull tight.

Step 3: Attach your button to the garment.
First, you’ll want to check how the other buttons are attached. For flat buttons with 4 holes, the threads can appear as two straight lines (like so ||) or as an X. You’ll want to match that technique.

My button was attached with two straight lines, so I’ll use that technique. 
Insert your needle from the inside of the garment where the button was previously. (If you can’t tell where the button was previously, place it where the buttonhole meets.

Next, insert your needle through the opposite hole on the button and down through the cloth. Make at least three passes on this side of the button.

You’ll now want to come up through the other side of the button and make 3 passes on this side.
Now you have this: 

Step 4: How to Make the Shank (Not like that!)

Pass the needle through the cloth, but not through the button. Now circle the thread around the button 3 times (so that it rests under the button and creates a space for the buttonhole to lie flat).

Step 5: Finishing up
Pass the needle back through the cloth. Knot the thread on the inside of the garment. Using the needle to create a granny knot, triple knotted, will create a strong knot.

Trim the thread close to the knot and you’re done! 

All finished!

Additional tip:
1.     Now is a good time to check the piece for loose threads and to trim them. If you’re anything like me, you pull on loose threads rather than finding scissors to cut them. That can (as I know from experience) ruin an otherwise perfect piece by causing a snag or ripping a hole.

What kinds of flaws do you typically find on otherwise perfect thrift store finds? 

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