We are now going to show you how to sew buttons onto a garment. It is a really great skill to learn. It can create a dramatic impact and completely change the look of a costume. Plus you never know when you are going to need to sew on a button that has fallen off.
- Dance garment
Buttons of your choice
Thread to match garment
Tailor’s chalk or a bar of soap
Choosing Your Materials
There are two types of buttons from which to choose. There are buttons with a loop, or a shank, in the back and then there are buttons that have a single row of two holes in the button (we will call them “singles”) or a double row of two holes in the button (we will call them “doubles”). With the single row of two holes, you would obviously just sew in one button hole in the button and come out the other hole. With the single row of holes in the button, you could place the row of holes in the button in a horizontal direction or a vertical direction. It is best to have the row of holes in the button in the same direction as the buttonholes. For the most part, buttons on dance costumes are decorative rather than functional.
When sewing any kind of button on a garment, we suggest that you use the threading method where you end up with four strands of thread. This method is explained in the section Pins and Needles above. Because you, in essence, are sewing with four strands of thread, it is easier and faster to sew buttons on to your garment.
You will need to mark your costume to indicate the placement of each button. Using Tailor’s chalk or a bar of soap, place a mark for each button that crosses over both sides of the opening. This method creates a guide that works if you have a row of decorative buttons on each side or if you have a row of functional buttons on one side and buttonholes on the other.
Sewing Buttons on Your Garment
Sewing Shank Buttons on Your Garment – To sew a shank button onto your garment, pull your needle through your material from the bottom side. Sew the needle through the shank (the loop) and back down through the fabric pulling the thread tight. Repeat this several more times and tie it off. Then bring the thread back up on the right side of the material and wind the thread tightly between the material and the shank of the button. This will keep it from flopping over.
Sewing Regular Buttons With One Row of Buttons Onto Your Garment – When sewing a regular button with just one row of buttons, start from the back of the fabric and sew up through one of the button holes and bring the needle and thread back down through the other hole. If the buttons are functional, you need to make sure that the direction of the buttonholes are perpendicular to the edge of the garment and that the stitches on the buttons are also perpendicular to the edge of the garment. This prevents stretching the buttonholes out of line. If the buttons are only decorative, it does not matter which direction you sew the buttons down. However, whichever direction you choose, all of the buttons should be sewn in the same direction. Even if the buttons are not functional, it is best to keep the stitching perpendicular to the edge of the garment.
To keep the button from being sewn too tight, slip a needle or pin between the button and the material and hold the button and needle in place. Repeat sewing the button in this manner, through one hole and back through the second hole several times. Once you have completed this, remove the pin or needle. Tie a knot at the back of the material and then slip the needle back up so that it is between the button and the material. Wind the thread around the stitches under the button several times. Using the needle as a spacer and then winding the thread around the thread under the button creates a space that keeps the button from being sewn too tight and makes it easier to slip the button through a buttonhole.
Sewing Regular Buttons With Two Rows of Buttons Onto Your Garment – If you are sewing a button that has two rows of buttons, there are two ways of accomplishing that. Sew the first row of holes as you would the single row button as just described and then move the needle over and repeat the process in the second row of buttons. Or, you can sew the button down by sewing through the holes in a kitty corner fashion. This would result in an “X” pattern on the top of the button. Either way, you would finish the button as described in the single row button instructions above.