Beautiful Buttons Deserve Beautiful Sewing

Beautiful Buttons Deserve Beautiful Sewing

Having sewn for several decades now, I wonder how many bad sewing habits I’ve picked up along the way. Almost every time I do a hand sewing task, I wonder if there’s a better way to do it. How about you?

I don’t recall exactly where I learned to sew on buttons, or who taught me. Was it Girl Scouts? Junior high school home economics class? My grandmother? It doesn’t really matter. I just know I’ve become sloppy at it, and I could use a refresher.

When Barb sent me a link to a tutorial from a Savile Row tailor, Thomas Mahon, I clicked on it right away. Button sewing envy ensued! I never knew a sewn-on button could look so beautiful! Using clear writing and good photos, Mahon gave me a couple of good tips in his blog post.

Using part of a wooden matchstick to form space for a thread shank is brilliant. I’ve usually used a tapestry needle or toothpick, but they always roll away until I get them well-anchored. That flat little bit of wood isn’t going to go anywhere! Mahon has me brainstorming for smaller, non-rolling items I could sew the button over to create shorter shanks for shirts or dresses. Any ideas?

Waxing the thread is another thing I never do. I’ve heard of it – I even own a little beeswax thread thingy. But have I practiced it? Never. I suspect it is the secret to that strong, stiff thread shank shown in the tutorial photo. Note to self: find thread waxer and keep it next to my sewing chair. Speaking of that shank, how did he get it so even, so perfect? Lots of practice, I’m sure.

Now, I don’t expect my next button sewing project to look as terrific as Thomas’ does. Years of sewing buttons on jackets has given him opportunity to hone his craft to near perfection. But I do expect my next button sewing project will look better than my last.

How about you, readers? Do you have any tips for sewing on buttons? Any kind of buttons, any sorts of tips, we’d love to read your helpful hints here. In fact, we’re so eager to read your tips that we’re having a contest. The SB staff will vote for their favorite tip, and the winner will receive $5.00 toward her/his next button purchase. So get on board and let us know what helps you sew on buttons beautifully!

P. S. We’ll announce the winner March 15, so be sure to enter before then!

3 Responses to “Beautiful Buttons Deserve Beautiful Sewing”

  1. Sawyer Brook Fabrics


    I am very much affiliated with SB 🙂 and will not be part of the contest.

    I wanted to add a tip that was shared with me by my sewing mentor years ago. When sewing a blouse button or other small button that does not need a long thread shank, hold the tip of your finger under one edge of the button as you sew in and out. The result is a slight loosening of the threads under the button which allows you to make a low shank when you finish. This works well even for self-shank buttons to provide just a little give which lengthens the staying power of the sewn button.

    Can’t wait to see more tips!

  2. tabitha jones


    I love the link to the tutorial – a very clever way to get consistent buttonholes. I learned to sew on buttons when I was 10 – from my Aunt who was a seamstress. I still have the button box kit she created for me, which includes; a container of thread wax, a wooden needle holder with a variety of needles, a thimble, a button tin with a mixture of buttons and the place I was to put additional buttons from projects and from store bought clothing, a darning egg, threads, a millimeter metal gauge ruler, a chalk pencil. a piece of rubber, some muslin fabric, a small notepad, a pencil & scissors.
    One of the best tips she gave was to attach the button with a single stitch of double thread and then put it through the button hole to gauge and measure how much of a wrapped thread shank would be needed to apply the button properly and consistently for the project – with the depth measurement she then created a spacer template out of cardboard – about 1.5 – 2″ square with a section cut out to the middle so that it could slide under the button and support it while it was sewed on. I hope this makes sense.

  3. Dixie


    And the winner is * drumroll, please * Tabitha Jones! Thank you, Tabitha, for your participation. We love hearing about the button kit your aunt gave you, and your tip is a very helpful one.
    You have won $5 off a button order. When you place your order, make a note in the special instructions field that you have won the contest. Thank you!

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