It’s happened to the best of us. You put on a button-down or a blouse. You’re in a hurry for a big event, dinner or date, and when you check yourself in the mirror, you realize one of the buttons is missing. Now there’s a gaping hole between buttons that looks completely out of place. Now, you have to rush and fix the problem, which may just cause you to be late. The last thing you want is to miss out on a potential date or delay a business conference because of a missing button. That is why you need to know how to sew a button.

How to Sew a Button on Your Shirt in As Little As 3 Steps

shirt with button on how to sew a button

There is never a good time for a button to fall off of your shirt. However, there will be a time where you have a shirt and the button falls off. Perhaps the button was never sewn on properly, or perhaps the string has given itself up after years of surviving a harsh wash and dry spin cycle. Just because a shirt’s button turns up missing, that does not mean you need to junk the shirt or take it in to the tailer. Instead, you need to know how to sew a button. You can do it in as little as three steps.

Gather Your Material

materials to use on how to sew a button

Before you begin, gather your material. You’ll need at least one needle, the replacement button, and ideally 24 inches of thread (although having 12 in. of thread is doable in a pinch). Having 24 in. allows you to perform a double over, which secures the button for the long term. However, if you need to stich the button on the spot, 12 in. will be fine.

Now, thread your needle. Make sure you pull the thread through the needle a good amount so you have slack to work with. You don’t want the thread to come out of the needle while you’re in the middle of the stitch (you don’t need to start over, but it becomes more difficult to fit the thread back into the needle).

Begin the Stitching

stitching a button on how to sew a button

Position the button where it needs to be. Using the threaded needle, push it through the interior of the fabric up through one of the button holes. Now, bring the needle down through the opposite hole. You’ll want to repeat this six times between the same two holes.

Stitching the Opposite Side

sewing button on how to sew a button

After the six passes, push your needle up through the new hole on the seventh pass (do so from the interior of the shirt). Again, you’ll want to repeat this six times. Doing this will ensure the thread is tight and that the button is not likely to break off.

If the other buttons on your shirt are done in a “X” form and not so it looks like an “=” sign, you’ll want to perform the six passes diagonally, then switch the diagonal. You’ll still perform the same number of passes while you stitch.

Securing the Stitch

securing stitch on how to sew a button

Now that you have completed six passes on each side of the button, you need to secure the stitch. To do this, pull the needle through the underside of the thread on the interior of the shirt. When you’ve pulled it through, repeat this process again, if you can. This is where having the 24 in. of fabric come in handy. If you had 24 in. of fabric, you should have enough to perform the six passes on each side and several passes underneath the button (on the interior of the shirt). When you’ve run out of fabric, cut the string and tie a knot to secure it in place.

If you did not have 24 in. of fabric to work with but instead only had around 12 in. or so, you should perform only three passes on each side. This will give enough security to the button to last you for a short period of time, although it is a good idea to go back and re-do the button when you have a chance and additional thread. If you don’t, you may end up losing the button when you least want to.

Is There a Ever a Time When You Need to Sew a Button in a Pinch?

Sew a Button in a Pinch on how to sew a button

There are instances where you might need to know how to sew a button in a pinch. You may have a big event coming up and you have the shirt picked out but then, in the middle of buttoning up, the button falls off. You may not have a backup plan, or you might be forced to adjust everything you’re wearing to fit a new shirt. Often times, it is far easier to sew a button in a pinch than to take all your clothing off, find a new outfit, press the wrinkles out, and do what is necessary to prep it.

When you learn how to sew a button, it will take a few minutes the first time. However, it is an easy task that you’ll quickly become accustomed to. The more you do it, the faster you’ll get at it (and the neater the stitching will be). So, whether you’re stitching up a button on your polo or on a blouse, these steps will work. You just need to have a few colored threads and buttons on hand.

Equipment You Need to Sew the Shirt Button

Sewing Supplies on how to sew a button

Now that you know how to sew a button, you need to know what kind of equipment and items you should have on hand. After all, you can’t really sew a shirt button on in a pinch if you don’t have a replacement button or a needle. Sometimes, the button will fall off in your hands and you won’t need a replacement. Other times, the button will fall off in the washing machine, in the dryer, or during the last time you wore it. Whatever happened to the button, you’ll need to have replacement options on hand.

Replacement Buttons

buttons on how to sew a button

First, you need to have replacement buttons on hand. In most cases when you buy a shirt that uses buttons, it will come with replacement buttons. If you check on the interior tag of the shirt, there is likely one or two spare buttons found here. Remove the buttons from the shirt and keep these in a spare container.

Now, there are going to be times where a shirt might not come with spare buttons. Due to this, you should still pick up a few spare buttons to have on hand. White and brown buttons are common. You can look over the kinds of shirt buttons you have and pick up spares accordingly. You can usually buy a pack of six or eight spare buttons for a few dollars. Keep these with the rest of your spare buttons so that you have a stocked sewing kit should you find yourself in the position to replace any lost buttons.


colored threads on how to sew a button

You don’t need to go to the arts and crafts store and pick up every color imaginable. You need a few options. Having a white and a black thread on hand is key. These are the most commonly used threads. A dark blue and a brown are helpful, as well. You can purchase small spindles of thread for a few dollars each. For the shirts that take a speciality color, you can buy small collections of thread. These basic “emergency” sewing kits will come with a half-dozen different colors. It won’t be enough thread to stitch up an entire shirt, but it will be enough to stitch a button.


different needles on how to sew a button

Buying the emergency sewing kit is a great way to keep yourself protected in the event of a missing button. You can also check in the travel section of your local Target or Walmart. Many of these stores will have slender sewing kids that come with some thread, one or two buttons, and a couple of needles. You may even find these in hotels. Tossing one of this in a travel suitcase or having it in the glove compartment of your care ensures that no matter where you are, you’ll always have replacement threads if necessary.

You don’t need a wide selection of needle types. If you pick up the emergency sewing kit, it will have the kinds of needles you should have on hand to perform the button stitch.


Supplies Needed on how to sew a button

There will be a time where you find a shirt of yours does not have a button. Instead of throwing the shirt away or taking it into a tailor, you need to know how to sew a button. By having this basic skill, you’ll be able to stitch up your button in a few minutes. The more you follow these instructions for how to sew a button, the easier it will become, the faster you’ll get at it, and the better you’ll be. All you’ll need to do is follow the basic instructions, and you’ll be set.