Get Over Your Button Fear

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Get Over Your Irrational Button Fear

Installing buttons is an easy task a lot of sewists tend to avoid.  I get that it’s a little daunting, but I promise this tutorial will ease your fears and have you poppin buttons onto all of your projects in no time! I used this easy technique on the coat I made here.

To start you’ll need a few things:



*If you’re adding optional interfacing for extra structure – add it before your project is completed and ready for button-holes.

Measure your button and mark your fabric for placement.  Your button-hole should extend 1/8″ past the button on either side so it has enough room to pass through the button-hole.



My sewing machine is a Heavy Duty Singer and it has a 1-step buttonhole option, some machines have 3 steps etc.  Of course, all machines are different, so refer to your manual if you’re on the struggle bus.  I highly recommend making SEVERAL test button-holes with your project scraps before committing to the real deal… nobody wants to see your ugly cry face!  The settings I used are shown below but yours may differ.  Try adjusting your tension and stitch length until you achieve the desired look.

Place your button into the guide on the back of the button-hole foot and attach it to the machines shank, making sure the button is in the back.  For whatever reason my foot doesn’t work the way it’s intended so I place my button between where it’s supposed to go and the foot pin.  I don’t know why but it works! Lots of trial, error, and frustration led me to this conclusionbut once I figured out my settings I was golden. Annnnnyway, so the button is measured and we’re ready to roll.


Place the needle directly over the back of the hole marking, hand-crank the needle down into the fabric then slide the button-hole foot all the way to the front and put the foot lever down.  Make sure it’s lined up with the notches in front.  WHEW!  Are you still with me?

Start sewing until the machine stops at the front of your button-hole, hand-crank the end 3-4 times and stop the needle on the left side.  Lift the foot lever and turn your fabric around making sure to line everything up with the notches, and slide the button-hole foot all the way forward again.  You’ll do the same thing as before, sew up to the end and hand crank 3/4 times.  Remove your fabric and trim the threads.

To make the actual hole I like to use a seam ripper and gently cut down the center of the button-hole.  Placing a pin at the end ensures you won’t cut too far and ruin all of your efforts.

You can also use a button-hole cutter, it’s sharp and makes a nice clean slit with a few taps of a hammer.  Trim any excess threads and that part is finished!  You can apply some fray check if you wish.  Complete the rest of the button-holes for your project, you can use a button placement guide to help with even spacing.

Sewing a button on with your machine is pretty much the best thing everrrr!!  I’m all about anything that involves me not hand sewing.  Don’t add any buttons until your holes are completed to ensure proper spacing.


Adding Buttons: Start by replacing the button-hole foot with the button-foot.  Leave your stitch length set to the button-hole stitch and change the type to a zig-zag stitch.


Place the button on your marking and position it under the foot with the holes aligned within the foot.  You’ll want to hand-crank and adjust your stitch length until you find the proper stitch length for your button.  Do not sew with the pedal here, as the needle may not be perfectly lined up and could snap.

Once you find the appropriate stitch length sew 6-9 times.  You can place a pin on top of the button before sewing to create a bit of space in the thread to allow for movement, but I’ve not found them to be too tight without.

Annnnnd DONE!!  Easy peasy, right? 

I hope this helped ease your unnecessary fears about installing buttons.  Let me know how you got on with tackling this simple notion!


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