How to Sew on Buttons with a Sewing Machine

sew on buttons with sewing machine

I'm such a lazy sewer that I feel almost embarrassed to share what I did last week.  I had to sew on a couple of buttons and rather than get out a needle and thread and hand-sew them, I actually took the time to look at my machine manual and learn how to sew them by machine instead.

In the end, I'm glad I did.  They took almost no time at all, looked much neater than I could have sewn by hand, and are probably much stronger too.

I can tell you this is easy because I did this video of me sewing on the very first ever machine sewn button.  Both the first one and the second one came out perfectly!  I was so worried I was either going to break the needle or break the button, but I was worried over nothing – it's so sew easy!

How to sew on buttons with a sewing machine


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Have you used your sewing machine to sew on buttons?  I'd love to hear about your experience with this method in the comments below.

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38 Responses to How to Sew on Buttons with a Sewing Machine

  1. alebalanzario says:

    I use to sew buttons by hand, but after reading your post, I will give it a try, it’s a good idea to put a toothpick under the presser foot, I wonder if I can do this on a quilt too?

  2. Pingback: Sew Buttons Using a Sewing Machine – Sewing Tutorial – Sewing – Ignacio Purcell Mena – DIY Do it yourself

  3. Pingback: Sew Buttons Using a Sewing Machine – Sewing Tutorial – Sewing

  4. Corey @ Tinysidekick says:

    I have a pile of shirts waiting for buttons to be put back on and this is going to come in handy. Thanks for sharing with us at The Makers. Pinned!

  5. Lynn says:

    I’ve been using this method for years. I also use the toothpick method to raise the button up a bit. If the fabric is very thick, I use a matchstick, which makes an even longer shank. I feel that buttons sewn on by machine not only look much neater, but are much more secure. And if you have a lot of buttons to sew on, this method saves a great deal of time.

  6. Joy Greig says:

    Barb H
    You can purchase a spacer, which is also used to sew over thick seams, it has a thick end and a thinner end depending on how long you need the shank. This accessory is well worth the money, mine also has a hole which fits flat sided machine needles this is great when changing needles.

  7. Jackie R says:

    I have been sewing on buttons by machine for many years. I have two tips. I use clear tape on the button and put the button where I want to sew it. It keeps the button stabilized on my vintage machine. Then I put an old machine needle (or toothpick) between the machine foot and the button. It makes the button looser to fit the buttonhole. Remember to leave an amount of thread on top and bottom. Hand sew the top threads to the bottom and knot the threads. Doing this will keep the button from loosening while wearing and washing.

  8. Karen says:

    I have also used my machine for sewing on buttons. However, I place either a toothpick or straight pin in the space between the holes on the button, then when I am finished stitching, I can pull a thread to the front instead of the back and use it to wrap around the threads between the button and the fabric. After that, just pull the thread to the back, as you do, and tie a knot. This provides a shank so the button is loose enough to make buttoning and unbuttoning easier.

  9. Jackie says:

    I’ve been doing this for quite while- I hate hand-sewing!- but I have a question. What if one needs some space (a shank) to accommodate thicker fabric? Any tips for that?

    • Lynn Snell says:

      Put something like a toothpick under the button to give it more room. Take your first stitches by moving the wheel manually and secure the toothpick in the right spot before running the machine at a higher speed.

    • June says:

      After taking that first stitch I slip a pin under the stitch. If you need more of a shank, use something a little bigger. My zig zag foot holds the pin straight nicely, and subsequent stitches will be taller to accomodate thicker fabrics.

    • Jackie R says:

      I use an old sewing machine needle between the foot and the button. It adds a space to accommodate any fabric, not just thicker fabric. This makes it easier to button the buttonhole.

  10. Barb H says:

    I’ve been doing machine sewn buttons for a couple of years now. I love the finished look they give.

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  12. Flor says:

    Hi, ive just found this blog and im loving it!! Can you tell me wich machine is the one you use on the video?

  13. MACD says:

    Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web-site is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this blog. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and simply couldn’t come across. What a great site.

  14. I will admit I too am lazy when it comes to any hand stitching so it’s nice to hear the teacher is also

  15. Marilyn Farr says:

    I have tried my foot like yours and it never seems to zigzag at the ends in the right place. One side it always zigzags short. I think it must be my machine or the type of fabric I am using.
    The thing I would really like to learn is how to place it so that the button hole starts and stops in the correct place on the garment. How far in from the edge until you start?

  16. Karen says:

    I like a thread shank on my buttons. The fabric doesn’t scrunch under the button when worn. To make a shank, I place a toothpick between the holes, on top of the button, before zigzagging. After sewing, remove the toothpick and pull the button taut.

  17. Sara Murray says:

    Genuis why did I not think of this myself lol

  18. racheal osime says:

    I’m going to try it…thanks for sharing it with me.

  19. Mandy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have always wondered how that worked and what that special ‘foot’ that came w/ my machine was for (got my machine 2nd hand so I didn’t have any directions) I can’t wait to try this!

  20. Shanice says:

    Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream’s City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again today 🙂

  21. Clare Swindlehurst (@SuperMommyClub) says:

    I’m terrible at hand sewing so it’s much easier for me to sew buttons on using the machine. And I love sewing button holes with it too!

  22. Kristina & Millie says:

    too neat! Gotta try this myself!

  23. Diane Cullum says:

    I hate hand sewing so much that I do everything I can by machine so I’ve been sewing buttons on by machine for years!! I have broken lots of needles though by not adjusting the stitch width correctly or when the button shifts from it’s spot.

  24. Amy says:

    It’s so much easier using your machine for this. Great tip about using sticky tape to hold them in place.

  25. I found some of the manufacturers (in South Africa) give free lessons for life. My machine is an Elna. Only caveat – I have to phone and book.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Wow, that is a real benefit when you buy a machine. So many of them have a lot of features we never use, and this could really help you use it to the full.

  26. Cindy says:

    I couldn’t believe how easy buttonholes and buttons were to do on my machine! I received a new sewing machine for Christmas. I had previously had a very basic, very old machine. I never would have attempted a buttonhole with it, and I doubt it could actually sew on buttons. This new machine makes sewing a joy! The manual is very easy to follow. Your machine looks very similar to mine. Don’t be afraid of buttonholes. They are a breeze. I recently made my mom a lightweight, button-up cotton housecoat, cutting up a worn out one for a pattern. It turned out really well, with 6 buttons and buttonholes. It was my first try at machine sewn buttons, and it was super easy. They were 4 hole buttons. My hubby was impressed that the sewing machine could do that.

    • Deby Coles says:

      I think what worries me is that the button hole is often done right at the end of the project, and after all that work, I’m afraid I’ll mess up and it will be impossible to correct! I need to get in some practice. I’ll video my first ever try and see how it goes!

      • Cindy says:

        The only way you can mess up a machine buttonhole is to not mark where it goes correctly on the fabric. When you actually use the buttonhole foot for the first time, you will see that it is marked well for where to put the end of your buttonhole under the foot. The instructions will walk you right through it. After doing one, I guarantee that you won’t think twice about adding buttons to your projects in the future. I will be ordering a serger in the next few weeks. Now serging, I fear! haha I am hoping the manual for the serger is as easy to follow as my sewing machine.

  27. Sharon says:

    I love using my sewing machine to attach buttons! I first discovered this when i bought a new machine and actually read through the instructions. Something i never usually do 🙂

    Love your videos as always!

    Mrs C x

    • Deby Coles says:

      I find my sewing machine manual is really good! It explains a lot about the feet and the stitches, so its certainly worth reading and reminding yourself every now an again what features you might be missing out on.

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