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Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Shank Button

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.

how to sew a shank button

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. 

Ready to give it a try? Let’s sew on a shank button!

thread the needle

Step 1:

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

Step 2:

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.

mark the spot

Step 3:

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 through the top layer

Step 4:

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 knot tight

Step 5:

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 through shank

Step 6:

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.

thread through fabric

Step 7:

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 thread tight

Step 8:

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.

thread through shank

Step 9:

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.

thread under shank

Step 10:

Once secure, thread the needle through the fabric to form the ending knot. Do not pull the threads tight yet!

create knot

Step 11:

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 tight

Step 12:

Pull the threads tight, creating a knot directly under the button. Repeat if necessary.

cut thread

Step 13:

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!

finished shank button

Go past the button, and upgrade to a more complex closure: the zipper!

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Excellent!!! Great!!! Wonderful!!!
These words are just insufficient to describe the quality of this article.
But,nevertheless I hope that they will provide some amount of encouragement.
Keep it up!!!
Wish you all the best in the future.
Thank You!

Sophie's Mom

Thank you SO much!!!! I'm embarrassed to say that my great-grandparents were tailors, and I can't even sew a button without looking up instructions, but yours are PERFECT! My daughter will be so happy with her new Anna cape!

Sean Thomas

Thank you Christine! You just helped a bachelor sew the shank button back onto my tuxedo jacket in time for tonight’s Xmas fund raiser. This was better than any video I viewed about this. Thanks again on a great job. Sean Thomas


i can sew a button but didn’t know how to sew a shank button. Thank you your kindly for your clear instructions I was able to follow it easily. Kind regards


Lovely and clear tutorial. Thank you. This helped me out a lot!


I have leather shank buttons to sew on a heavy old wool coat, and after watching your to tutorial, I’m not quite as nervous to try it! I think I may have to go to a fabric store to buy some heavy duty thread and needle! Thanks for the info!

None ya



My boyfriend’s button broke while at a business competition thingy. I had to give him steps on how to iron too and i sent this guide to him. He said i was the “best ever” so thanks 🙂
Ladies! if your manz ever breaks a button, 10/10 do recommend you follow this hehe


Great instructions. I’ve yet to find why shank buttons(usually metal) have holes on the back. Yes there is the hook in the center to attach the button, but what are the other holes for?


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