How to Sew a Button Quickly and Correctly

You’ll need to learn how to sew on buttons if you want a great survival outfit. This is an excellent skill for any situation, from surviving in the wilderness or at home. Here’s our tutorial and tips on sewing fast!

When you need a button sewn on, but you don’t have the time or patience to do it, this is your guide. Read more in detail here: how to sew on a button step-by-step.

Group of tailors using sewing machines.

Three years ago, I was in Chicago for a networking event and ran into a problem.

I couldn’t button up all the way to the top because the dress shirt I was wearing had “shrunk” at the neck. Normally, I could get away with without wearing a tie, but this occasion was more formal, so I couldn’t. What might a guy do?

I rushed to the hotel desk with 30 minutes to spare and requested an emergency sewing kit. I took off the offending button after 5 minutes and repositioned it 3/4 inch after another 5 minutes. It was still a little snug, but the shirt buttoned up a lot easier, and I breezed through the event.

So here’s the question for today: can you thread a needle and sew on a button? You may consider sewing to be “girly things,” and depend on your mother or wife to replace your buttons. However, you never know when you’ll be on your own and need this ability; learning how to sew on a button is a little step toward being more self-sufficient.

If you don’t know how to sew a button but want to learn, follow the instructions below to learn how to sew a button professionally in 5 easy stages.

If you’re looking for additional fast style adjustments, check out this classic AOM piece.

You’ll need the following tools:

  • Needle (preferably two) — any basic sewing needle will do; the thinner the needle, the better.
  • You’ll need roughly 12 inches of thread to complete the project. Use 24′′ if you want to double your threads (to make them stronger and simpler to knot). If you can’t find a thread that matches the color of the clothing, black or navy will do.
  • If feasible, utilize the original button; if not, use anything you can locate. A spare set of buttons is usually sewn on the inside of the bottom front of most shirts. It’s worth noting that some buttons have two holes while others have four. This technique is for a four-hole button, although it may also be used for two-hole buttons.
  • To cut the extra thread, use scissors, a knife, or anything sharp. In a pinch, you can use your teeth.

If you’re traveling and don’t have the necessary items, get an emergency sewing kit from your hotel’s front desk. They’ll almost always have one for you. But, since you never know when or where one of your buttons may break off, I suggest keeping an emergency stitching kit in your luggage and vehicle, as shown below:


How to Put a Button on a Shirt

If feasible, remove the clothes; nevertheless, in my case, I merely conducted the process in front of a public washroom mirror. Find a restroom stall if you’re working on your front trouser button.

Button and white thread with needle on a brown cloth.

Step 1: Thread the Needle and Tie a Knot

What is the total amount of thread you have? If you have 24 inches, double over the thread by slipping it through the eye of the needle and then doubling it over until you have equal quantities on each sides. You’ll need a minimum of 12 inches to work with. You may tie the ends of a doubled-over thread together in a simple square knot or use the same approach as a single end.


Threaded the needle with white thread.

You’ll have to use a single thread if you don’t have more than 24 inches of thread. Pull a strand of slack through to knot it off. An inch or two of slack should enough, but go ahead and use as much as you need since you’ll be pulling it all back in the following step. You may either make a few little overhand knots or wrap the thread around your fingertip multiple times to tie off the rear end of a single thread. With your thumb, roll the loops into a tight bundle, then slide the whole bundle off your finger. With one hand, hold the bundled loops with the other, pull the long end of the thread taut. The loose bundle should be pulled into a tight knot as a result of this.

Once the knot is made, it will be utilized as the initial anchor to protect the thread from coming free in either manner.

Step 2: Make a “X” anchor point.

Close up view of anchor x point on a brown cloth.

Begin at the rear end of the cloth and work your way to the front, where the button will be required. Thread the needle all the way to the back, then back to the front. You’ll want to make a little “X” in the middle of the button. This X also serves as a stronger anchor for the thread, preventing it from loosening under stress.

Step 3: Put the Button in the Right Place

Needle attached with button by white thread.

Place the button on the anchor “X” and begin sewing by passing the needle through the first button hole from the rear to the front. You’ll want to add the spacer at this stage (a second needle or a toothpick, pin, or small stick can be used).

Push the needle through one of the holes on the button from the bottom of the garment. Pull the thread all the way through the cloth until the knot is tight against the bottom. Keep the button in place with your fingertip.

Button attached to a cloth by thread and needle.

Turn the needle around and put it down through the opposite hole from where you came up. Pull the thread tight and push it all the way through. Only a single short line of thread should be left across the button, connecting the two holes.

This technique will be repeated six times, three times for each pair of holes on the button.

Thread passed through the button's holes by needle.

Create the Shank in Step 4

Come up through the cloth rather than the button on your final repeat of the previous step. Come up through the hole in the button as if you were going to go through it normally, then spin the needle around and bring it out from below the button.

Sewing a button creating shank.

Wrap your thread around the threads under the button with the needle. Make six loops behind the button, around the thread bridges that link the button to the cloth.

Pull the fabric taut, then plunge the needle back into the base to be tied off on the other side.

Needle passed through the cloth while sewing button.

Step 5: Finish it off with a bow.

Make a tiny knot on the fabric’s backside. You may either use the needle to guide the thread through a knot or clip the thread from the needle and tie the knot with your fingers in the slack, but you want it tight against the back of the cloth in either case.


Sewing the button tightly from back side.

A basic overhand loop done with the needle still attached is perhaps the simplest knot to tie off. Make a little circle in the thread just beyond your fingertip and run the needle through the circle, directly against the back of the cloth, beneath the button. Tighten it up, then trim away the extra fabric.

Needle passed through the cloth and button.

These instructions may be used to shirt, suit, or trouser buttons. Hopefully, you’ll be able to put it to good use!

If you’d want to see it in video format, here’s a quick 4 minute explanation:



How to sew a button illustration diagram. If you’d want to see it in video format, here’s a quick 4 minute explanation:

Submitted by:

Antonio Centeno is the founder of Real Men Real Style, the internet’s largest style video library. 



The “how to sew a button with 4 holes” is a quick and easy way to sew on buttons. The tutorial will show you how to do it quickly and correctly.

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