Buttons come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, as well as those of a flat and shank variety. You probably know a flat button — it is the classic shape with either two or four holes throughout it.
But do you know a shank button? It is the button that looks like a shape on the top, but there are no holes through it. Instead, there is a loop on the underside, typically made of plastic or metal, attaching it to the garment.
Sewing a shank button is pretty close to the same technique as sewing on a flat button, so do not fear the shank. Instead, welcome it! It is the perfect choice for a more formal finish, since there is no visible stitching.
The height of the shank also makes this style of button an ideal selection for fabrics that are a bit thick, as the depth created by the shank allows the button to get through the buttonholes of items like jackets, coats, and other items that are made of heavier fabrics like wool.
But, shank buttons can also be used on medium and thin fabrics too. I used them on my sample garments in my Sassy Librarian Blouse class, which I made with quilt weight cotton.
Ready to give it a try? Let’s sew on a shank button!
Use a needle that is appropriate for the fabric being sewn, using a lighter needle for finer fabrics and heavier for thicker fabrics. The thread can be the same thread you used to sew the rest of the project, or you can purchase a heavy topstitching or buttonhole thread for extra strength. Thread the needle so there are two equal lengths of thread.
Tie a knot at the end of the two lengths of thread. With it tied in this way, each pass of the needle will be two thicknesses of thread, making it strong in less time.
Using a water-soluble marking tool, determine where you want your button to go. Use the buttonhole to find proper placement and mark on the right side of the fabric.
Thread the needle through the fabric on the right side. Only catch a little bit of the fabric and do not pass the needle to the underside.
Pull the thread tight so the knot is at the mark on the right side of the fabric. If you did not do so already, cut the extra tail off after the knot on the thread.
Thread the needle through the shank on the button. Some shanks will look like this one where it is a solid mass with a hole passing through it, while others will be a little loop made of metal. All varieties will be sewn the same.
After passing through the button, thread the needle through the fabric just as you did in step four, keeping the threads all on the right side of the fabric. Make the passes through the fabric consistent in size so the underside looks like one single thread.
Pull the threads tight, securing the shank to the right side of the fabric. In this image I have it pulled up a bit so you can see under the button, but yours will be pulled flush to the fabric.
Continue passing the needle through the shank, then through the fabric directly under the shank until the button is secure. Remember the thread is doubled, so each pass is two threads.
Once secure, thread the needle through the fabric to form the ending knot. Do not pull the threads tight yet!
Leave a loop of thread behind and place the needle through the circle of thread. Go all the way through with the needle, forming a knot with the threads.
Pull the threads tight, creating a knot directly under the button. Repeat if necessary.
Clip the thread just under the button by the knot formed in the last step. The underside of the button area will be clean and free of knots, and the top layer will only show the button. Perfect!
Go past the button, and upgrade to a more complex closure: the zipper!
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