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Tips & Techniques > use a machine needle to make a button shank

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Posted by: Sew it seams
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Posted on: 9/13/04 2:07 PM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 5 people   
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A common way to make a shank is to use a tooth pick or something like it to hold your button away from your fabric while you stitch it in place. This doesn't work very well for me because the toothpick always seems to move away while I'm trying to hold it in place and stitch at the same time. Using a straight pin underneath does not usually give me enough height for a shank. Today I discovered that if I use the thick end of a sewing machine needle under my button with the sharp end secured into the fabric just beyond the button, I get the perfect sized shank and the needle does not move away underneath until I remove it. This method worked very well on my knit twinset.

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MarieWsewpro said... (9/16/04 9:54 AM) Reply
I'm sure this would work, but I don't think I'd like the button rocking back and forth as I sewed. It seems easier to hold the button flat on the fabric with the toothpick on top. This way you can even sew it on by machine [feed dogs down, zero stitch length, set zigzag width and try the first two stitches by hand turning the wheel, adjusting zigzag width to fit the holes]. The presser foot holds the button, you just have to hold the toothpick in place.
Asa Hagstrom said... (9/16/04 5:53 AM) Reply
You can also place the toothpick/match/dowel/needle on the facing side of the fabric, depending on the shape of the button.
Mary Ellen said... (9/15/04 3:21 PM) Reply
I, too always thought the toothpick should go under the button (for several years in fact) and just now figured this out reading your tip - Thank You!
SewVeryTall said... (9/15/04 4:10 AM) Reply
Debe, you're welcome...glad I could help :)
Sew it seams said... (9/14/04 12:08 PM) Reply
LOL!! Sewverytall, maybe *that's* why I have so much trouble!!! Thank you for *your* tip! I can't tell you how long I have been struggling with the toothpick *underneath* the button! As you can imagine, I am a "visual" learner, and a slow one at that!
SewVeryTall said... (9/14/04 7:39 AM) Reply
This is a good tip for a small shank...trying to get a toothpick to stay UNDERNEATH your button would be very nerve racking. If you need an extra long shank for a thick winter coat, use a little piece of 1/8" or 3/16" dowel on TOP of the button and sew over it.
cindyann said... (9/13/04 2:14 PM) Reply
Great tip Debe. The toothpick is devilish for me too, plus the needles are right there when you need them.
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