Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Ifs, Ands or Buttons

Maybe we haven't known each other that long, but I like you, and I don't want to see you played for a fool. That's why I think it's imperative that you stop throwing your money away sending clothes to the tailor that you could easily fix yourself for free. You know who you are- your skirt gets a little droopy hem, or you pop a spaghetti strap on the dance floor, or, worst of all, a button falls off your fave cardy, and you immediately go running to the professionals.
All of these sewing tasks are totally simple and entirely doable by you as long as you have a very basic sewing kit and at least one finger and thumb. And each of them can be accomplished in the time it takes one American Idol contestant to butcher your favorite song (you might even be grateful for the distraction).
Luckily, I found this illustration on, and I figure if their readers are up to the task of rebuttoning themselves, so are mine. So I stole it, because I am not above theft when it comes to helping my friends. Don't worry, you can pay me back later.

Step 1. Thread your needle with a thread that matches the button (or whatever color has been used on the other buttons) Don't worry if the color is slightly off (i.e. navy vs. black)- no one will ever notice. Double the thread over and tie the ends together in a knot. Find the exact spot where the button should go by matching it up with the button hole. Insert the needle through the fabric from the back (so the knot doesn't show on the front), and stitch an "X" to anchor the button.

Step 2: Thread the needle through one of the holes in the button (if the button has 4 holes, take note of how the garment's other buttons are sewn on- do the stitches form an "X" or two parallel lines- you will want to copy it so this button matches). Then stitch up and down through the holes in the button and the fabric loosely at least 4 or 5 times, keeping the button pulled about 1/8 - 1/4" away from the fabric (you can insert a toothpick or matchstick to help you keep the right distance).

Step 3: When the button feels well affixed, thread the needle down through one of the holes in the button, but not through the fabric, so the thread is coming out from between the button and the fabric. Then wind the thread around the loose stitches several times (this creates a "shank" and leaves enough space for the button hole without putting pressure on the fabric).

Step 4. Insert the needle through the wound shank you have created a few times, securing the thread. Snip the loose thread near the shank with scissors so there are no loose ends. Ain't that a kick in the buttons?

Here's a bonus tip: Keep a glass jar with a lid (like a mustard or baby food jar) in your sewing kit. When a garment comes with extra buttons, add them to the jar. Pretty soon you'll have a large enough collection to replace almost any fastener that goes missing. Plus a jars of buttons make for pretty cute objets in my fantasy craft room.

Photo credit: Country Living
Illustration credit:


Talia said...

What great advice. Also, loved the advice you gave to Stephanie in the previous post regarding "Meet The Parents". This was an excellent post. I am going to send to my daughters as I don't think I could have written or said it better.

You are a gem and I am delighted I found your charming blog!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I was just thinking the other day about this exact thing. I've mended things but faked my way through it. HA! Thanks - Havilah