Sunday, January 13, 2013

Making Fabric Buttons

I got waylaid by the flu in early November, and since I was stuck in bed anyway, I decided that when I wasn't sleeping, I really could be sewing. One of the projects that I'd put off for far too long was to correctly finish the wrists on my pink wool cote with buttons. So tucked in bed, I made myself busy.

I'm not sure why I'd found button making so difficult before. I used the circle method, and had no problem getting 12, nice, fair-sized buttons. There are several great button tutorials out there, but in case my blog is the first you come to, here's my version:

Cut a piece of your fabric about 1.5-2" square (mine are ~2"; a smaller starting square will give you a smaller button.)

Fold the square in half diagonally 2 or 3 times (creating a triangle), then cut the raw edges into a curve to make a circle. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be mostly even all the way around.

Thread your needle with about an arm's length of thread, and double it for strength. Knot the ends together.

No more than 1/8" away from the circle's edge (and not so close that the thread can easily tear out of the fabric's weave), sew a running stitch.

Once you've sewn all the way around, with your needle passing through to the back side at the end of the running stitch, pull the thread to create a tiny pouch. Leave the thread and needle intact- you're not finished with them yet.

Then using your thumb to guide it, press the pouch flat, with the raw edges at the center, to create a new, flattened disc. Alternatively press with your fingers and pull the thread to get the disc as close to a perfect circle as possible.

Sew another running stitch, this time around the very edge (as close to the "side" as you can) of the new disc. I only went through the top layer, so that the thread didn't appear on the exterior of the button, but I'm not sure how necessary that really was.

Once the stitch has gone all the way around again, pull tight. This is where the double-thread is needed, since you'll need to pull fairly strongly to make the running stitches close tightly. As you pull, use your fingers to guide the button closed with the raw edges encased inside.

Using your thumb and forefinger to hold the tightened button closed, run the thread back and forth across the opening as many times as you need to get an even, tightly-shut ball.

Knot your thread tightly. Cut your needle off at the end of the remaining thread. You'll keep that thread intact in order to sew the buttons onto your garment.

I did not get to put the buttons on, but now they're ready for when I am!

I had previously gathered several other button tutorials, so if you'd like to check out how other people are doing their fabric buttons, click here!


  1. Thank you! Do you have a button hole tutorial to go with the buttons that you'd recommend?

    1. I don't really. I'm using a blanket stitch around a pre-cut slit, but this is pretty new on my list of skills. I did some You Tube searches for hand-sewn buttonholes to get some bearings first. When I get a little better at it, I'll definitely post my own tutorial.