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Tips & Techniques > sewing buttons by machine

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Posted by: Debbie Spriggs

About Debbie Spriggs star
Member since: 10/4/02
Reviews: 12 (tips: 1)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 7 people
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Posted on: 12/3/02 1:18 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 2 people   Very Helpful by 5 people   
I sew most of my buttons on by machine, which is a real time saver. This technique will work for most buttons with holes (no shank buttons). Some sewing machine manuals will explain this technique, but I'm not sure how many sewers do this.

First, drop the feed teeth on your machine. If the feed teeth do not drop, your machine should have a small plate to cover them.

I use a piece of scotch tape to secure each button to the garment.

Some machines come with a foot to hold the button down. On my machine I remove the foot, and just position the button under the pressure foot shank.

Select a zig-zag stitch (some computerized machines have a button setting). Test your stitch by turning the flywheel by hand to make sure that the needle will hit both holes.--This is a very important step so that you don't have a broken needle or button or an out-of-time machine. As soon as you are sure that your needle will clear both holes, complete the stitch by machine.

Readjust the button for additional holes. Retest the stitch each time you readjust the button,to be sure the needle will hit the hole. I usually wait to clip threads until all buttons have been stitched.

For a little extra security, you can add a little seam sealant to the back side of the stitching. I have found this application very secure, even without the seam sealant.

Remove the scotch tape after all the stitching has been completed. Also remember to put your feed teeth back. (On many machines, the feed teeth do not return to position until after you have taken a stitch).

I think that my machine does a prettier job of attatching buttons than I can do by hand. Now if it could only do those shank buttons...

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Elemenopeo said... (6/1/06 5:50 PM) Reply
I just tried this and it really worked for me. I did break one button by not lining it up right so that is someting to watch out for. But it's so nice and quick!
Gigi Louis said... (9/17/04 8:40 AM) Reply
RTW buttons fall off because they are sewn on with a chainstitch for the most part. I always put a drop of Fray Check on the threads on RTW buttons. I too use a gluestick to hold buttons down. I have a button foot that has an adjustable shank but you can simply hold a tooth pick between the holes on top of the button. Leave a long tail of thread to thread back through the hole so that you can wrap it around to form a shank.
Diana M said... (9/17/04 1:51 AM) Reply
I do this, too -- on those rare occasions when I sew buttons cuz my machine makes really awful buttonholes -- and add just a **drop** of FrayCheck to the top after stitching. My daughters use the FC on rtw buttons even before they wear the garment. cuz 1) they don't know how to sew on a button, and 2) rtw buttons frequently fall off!
CPhT said... (4/21/04 10:03 PM) Reply
I've been sewing buttons on by machine for years. An extra tip I can add is, instead of taping the button in place before stitching, I use a water soluable glue stick and place a dab of glue on the fabric, then position the button down on top of the glue. Works like an absolute charm.
comocosews said... (12/10/02 11:50 PM) Reply
Thanks for your ideas, I'll try that.
Judy Williment said... (12/5/02 11:35 PM) Reply
OK, I'm NEVER sewing on buttons by hand again!
Debbie Spriggs said... (12/3/02 8:36 PM) Reply
Good idea Marita. A tapestry needle could also work. Just vary the size of the needle according to the depth of thread shank you would like.
Marita Kinnula said... (12/3/02 4:35 PM) Reply
You can try and put something between the button and fabric, like coctail stick.
comocosews said... (12/3/02 4:30 PM) Reply
The problem I've had is that the buttons are stitched on too tight, any ideas about this problem?
Debbie Spriggs said... (12/3/02 12:30 PM) Reply
Hi Judy, I don't use glue, and haven't had a problem with my buttons unraveling. The reason why I think they don't unravel is that the feed teeth don't advance the fabric, so you are stitching in place. In effect the machine isknotting the thread by stitching in the same place several times. (I use about six stitches). When I use my machine's button setting, it stitches in place to secure the button, but I used an old manual viking for years to attach buttons this way without any problems. It takes me about 5 minutes to stitch down a row of shirt button by machine. By hand I'm much slower. ( I sew most things at turtle speed) The same task would take me at least 20 minutes. It's a bigger timesaver when there are multiple buttons to attach.
Judy Williment said... (12/3/02 8:17 AM) Reply
I can do this on my machine, but don't because I worry about the stitching coming undone. If you don't use a glue or something similar, do you tie off the thread ends, and if not, do they unravel? I'd love to be able to sew buttons on so quickly, but by the time I've set up, and tied off the last thread, it's often simpler to do it by hand.
Marita Kinnula said... (12/3/02 6:46 AM) Reply
Hi Debbie, yeah that would be a day, LOL
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