Q&A Monday:  You CAN Sew on a Button! 1
Refashions,  Sewing Tips

Q&A Monday: You CAN Sew on a Button!

Purple Procrastination Top
A Sunburnt Strapless Dress

One of the most common phrases I see in comments and emails for this blog is, “I can’t even sew on a button!”.  No big deal, right?  Some people don’t know how to sew on a button.  Big whup.


What I don’t like about this statement is how it implies “I can’t and won’t ever be able to sew on a button, or sew anything else for that matter!”  Most things can be learned.  Just because you don’t know how to do something now, doesn’t mean you won’t ever be good at said thing!

My big tin 'o buttons!
My big tin ‘o buttons!

Let’s rewind to more than a decade ago when I was a Theatre Major at the University of South Carolina (Go Cocks!).  I was a good bit less than enthused when I had to do my time in the costume shop (mandatory lab assignment).  I had absolutely NO interest in sewing or costuming at the time.

My first assignment was to sew a row of buttons onto some gorgeous brocaded doublet for an upcoming show.  I clumsily stitched the buttons on, shrugging when my task was complete.  The next day, I had to sew them all on again, as they had popped off in rehearsal! The actor was livid and the costume shop staff was incredibly annoyed with my ineptitude.  That’s right.  I couldn’t even sew on a button!  One of the nice costume shop grad students sat down with me and showed me how.

It’s not hard, folks.  If a bored 20-year-old me could do it, so can you!  You’re about to have no excuse for not being able to sew on a button!

For those of you who are visual learners, Threadbanger has your back!

Some of you might prefer written instructions, like these from The Art of Manliness (I seriously adore this blog btw!).

from The Art of Manliness!

Here’s a little tip from me:  Whenever you’re hand-sewing anything, run the thread over an unlit candle.  The wax will keep it from getting tangled!

Wax On!
Wax On!

For those of you who are feeling super-creative, you can even make your own buttons!!!

Let Liz from Offbeat Bride show you how!
Let Liz from Offbeat Bride show you how!

So…now you know how to sew on a button!  It wasn’t that hard, now was it?  🙂




  • laura

    This post reminds me so much of something my high school art teacher said that I’ve always remembered. He said so often you hear people say “I can’t take an art class I can’t even draw a stick man” and he would say well if you already knew how to draw than why would you be taking a class to learn how. I always remember that when I reluctant to try something new because I’ll just “embarrass myself” no one is perfect and no one knows everything if we where well there would be no need for schools and classes now would there ha ha.

  • Joanie

    I have done hand piecing in quilting and you can purchase wax in quilt shops or quilt sections of craft stores specifically used for waxing your thread when hand sewing. Makes the thread glide smoothly through the fabric, like butter!!!

  • Ael

    I’ve been sewing casually for YEARS, and always fudged the knotting part at the end. It was always a convoluted progression of loops and pull-throughs and just hoping it wouldn’t come out. I feel so enlightened!

  • Teresa H

    Thank you for this post!

    The same thing that makes you crazy about is the same thing for me, that there is an assumption that it’s impossible and/or they aren’t even willing to try.

    I’ve been sewing since I was 6 and I could sew buttons then. Yeah, maybe they were sloppy, but a 6 year old could do it! And I taught my neighbor’s daughter how to sew (on a machine! while watching carefully!) starting when she was 6. She is 12 now and not that into sewing but she KNOWS HOW. My son is 2 years old… and HE is going to learn how to sew when he is 6. If he doesn’t love to sew, fine. But he just has to know HOW. If he ever loses a button, I’ll hand him a needle and thread.

    If I’m lucky, he’ll love to design clothes like his mama and become famous and rich and keep me well dressed in my golden years. 😉

    • ReFashionista

      I know they make kits that do this. It has to be a special kind of button specifically designed to be covered though (I think).

  • Liz

    I would say that this topic is what Refashionista is actually all about. So many people have no direct connection with their possessions including clothes or are so tied into the ‘rules’ of clothing and fashion and purchase that they believe they cannot be proactive. It’s easy to forget skills and the options we have. I took two pin tucks out if a top and now it fits me. A few years ago I would have passed it on. Taking control of our clothes, figuring out how to fix stuff is liberation.

  • Mistress Arawynn

    Love the tip about the candle wax, It drives me absolutely mad when I am hand sewing and my thread tangles and it happens at any length. Will have to try this next time I sew something. Thanks 🙂

  • TNTrish

    You can also use dental floss to sew on buttons….the waxed kind….it is especially good for heavy buttons where you would use heavier thread

    as for zippers….I found if you hand baste them in place instead of trying to pin them in running them through the machine….you get a better result and dont have to rip them out and start over if you goof …..I HATE HATE hand sewing and would go out of my way to avoid it but hand basting a zipper doesn’t take but a minute…you use big stitches and they aren’t hard to remove…..

    and I am a button FREAK….I LOVE how pretty buttons can totally change the whole look of a garment…..i have been known to buy a garment at a thrift store just for the buttons…cut of the buttons and junk the rest, lol! I also used to buy dresses at the thrifts just for the “Sarah Elizabeth” label because that is my daughter’s name…I would sew them to her refashioned stuff I made for her like purses etc….I would carefully remove the label and re-donate the dress back….

    • Rebecca

      I buy clothes by the pound at second hand stores just for the buttons, zippers and other tabs and etc that come on clothes/ Much cheaper than buying them new, and the old vintage ones, esp heavy duty metal zippers are worth their weight in gold!

      I’m also always on the lookout for fleece pullovers with a certain type of elastic cord and fastener around the waist. I remove them (after purchase of course) and use the cord and fasteners to make my sons’ shoes into slip on sneakers instead of ties. Both my boys are Autistic and tying shoes is a long, hard road, this allows them to wear “cool” shoes just like the other boys. And the fleece is still totally wearable, so I can redonate the fleece to be sold again!

      • KelleyB

        That’s a really great idea for the shoes!!
        I’m always impressed by people who have the mindset to be so resourceful. As a young American, that’s been somewhat trained out of us, but it’s good to hear from people like you to keep my mind right- I don’t need to buy a new elastic for this dress, I can buy a used one for a dollar from a thrift dress!

        Anyway, nice comments!

  • Jo H.

    Great idea for a post! So many people think there’s magic involved, but it’s like anything else – knowledge and practice, and with everything on the internet these days, the knowledge is very accessible.

  • Sue

    I’m curious what was the “wrong” way that you sewed those buttons on the costume? After reading the blog, I’m wondering if I’ve been doing it wrong all these years??

  • Rachel A. Hanson

    Right after I graduated from high school I worked at an Express store.

    One day a woman came in telling me she needed to return a sweater. I asked what was wrong with it and she tragically said “A button fell off!” In my naivete I just started at her for a moment (with a look on my face that I’m sure said “are you serious?”) before directing her to my manager to return the sweater. Her boyfriend was with her and said to me, “Well, what would you have done?” and I very frankly replied, “I would have sewed the button back on.” He looked at me like I was out of my mind!

  • Michelle Swetland

    I was one of those people, had dry cleaner sew them on for me! But I am a big girl and will accomplish this task! Lol!

  • Grace

    Thanks so much for sharing ‘the art of manliness’! The comments are too cute, lovin the guy sewing his own button back on to impress a date!!

  • Margaret

    Your tip about running thread over an unlit candle is good to know, but did you know that if you knot the wrong end of the thread it tangles?

    That’s right. Thread is twisted in one direction so it runs smoothly through your sewing machine without tangling. If you knot the end that’s closest to the spool, you will have far less tangles.

    The same, actually the opposite is true of knitting yarn. Knitting yarn is twisted so using it from the center of the ball is the correct way. If you knit from the outside of the ball you will get a lot of tangles.

    I know! Too much information, but sometimes I’m typing and can’t stop LOL

    • Kelly

      I’m a knitter and it drives me crazy when people use the outside of the yarn instead of pulling from the inside. It’s just going to lead to trouble lol!

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