sewing on buttons by machine

Button sewn by machine
Button sewn on with a sewing machine

Sometimes you have no option other than to whip out the needle, thread and thimble to sew on a button by hand. With a little practice, however, you may find it’s actually faster to sew them on by machine, especially if you have a number of buttons to attach to your project.

Supplies you’ll need:
(1) Sewing machine
(2) Matching or coordinating thread (all purpose polyester sewing thread is fine)
(3) Button

Other supplies you’ll find helpful:

While you can use a regular zigzag foot to sew on the button, using a button sewing foot provides much greater visibility to align the needle with holes on the button.

I learned about using tape from watching old Sewing with Nancy videos. Tape holds buttons in place while you try to get the button and fabric positioned under the foot. I get best results when using the 3/4″ wide clear/transparent tape (not the frosty/opaque/magic tape on the little roll). This stuff is so sticky that we use it to cover spine labels in the school library. You can sew through it just fine without messing up your sewing machine.

Machine settings:
Stitch: Zigzag
Stitch width: 3.5 mm (start here; adjust depending on size of button)
Stitch length: 0 or as low as your machine will go
(1) If your machine has a button sewing stitch, refer to your manual for information on how to use this feature.
(2) Some machines advise dropping/covering the feed dogs. I leave mine up and lower the stitch length.

How to stitch:
Align the button so that the needle comes down in the center of the left hole. Rotate the handwheel by hand to make sure the needle clears the right hole. If all is well, sew 5-6 times back and forth and tie off. If you have a 4-hole button, sew the back two holes first, then the front two holes.

Peel away the tape and clip your threads. You’re done!

Wasn’t that easy?