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Fashion DIY: how to stitch on a button

Being able to sew on a button is a good place to start when exploring how sewing can enhance your wardrobe.

Sewing on a button - step by step
Sewing on a button - step by step

When you tell people that you can sew, a common response is, 'Oh, I can't even sew on a button'.  Well, there really is nothing to it – you don't need any special and it's one of those life skills everybody should learn.

Buttons are often the first things to fail on high street clothing - ever bought a coat and the buttons have started to fall off within a week or two? Now you can fix it yourself, without having to ask your Gran nicely.

There are two types of buttons – flat (with two or four holes) and shanked, which have no holes through the button and a loop at the back for the thread to go through. This tutorial will show you how to sew on both types of button securely.

What you will need:

Your item of clothing

A button

Needle

Thread

Cocktail stick/spare needle/pin

1. Thread a needle and pull the short tail of the thread down so that the thread is doubled. Make a double knot at the end of the thread.

2. Hold the button on the front of the fabric and pull the thread through from the back. If using a flat button, hold the cocktail stick (or similar) across the top of the button and stitch up and down through the holes and over the stick at the back. For a four-holed button, stitch in an X shape.

3. Once you have done this a few times, remove the stick. You will be left with thread between the button and the front of the item.

4. Wrap your threaded needle around this to create a shank. This provides strength and leaves room for the fabric with the buttonhole to fit over the button.

5. Take the needle through to the back of the fabric and stitch over the loop of stitches at the back to reinforce the button. Finish by bring the needle through a loop of thread to create a knot.

6. If using a shanked button, hold the cocktail stick at the back of the fabric. When you are stitching back and forth through the fabric, stitch over the cocktail stick.

7. Once you have done this a number of times, remove the stick to reveal a thread loop. Bring the needle through this thread loop several times to help reinforce the button. Finish by bring the needle through a loop of thread to create a knot.

A few minutes spent sewing on buttons means you can start wearing those items which have worked their way to the back of the wardrobe for not being in a wearable state. Changing buttons is also a great way to revamp a tired piece of clothing. You can change the look of a plain shirt or cardigan by adding some new buttons. If options in high street haberdasheries don't appeal, try Etsy for a selection of quirky handmade and vintage buttons.

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