How to Sew Buttons with the Sewing Machine Button Stitch

Sooner or later, sewers must sew buttons on their projects. This technique of sewing a button with a sewing machine will speed up the process of sewing a shirt or a project with many buttons. 

This technique can be used to attach 2-hole or 4-hole flat buttons.  It cannot be used to attach buttons with a shank.  

Bonus! Use this technique to attach sew-on snaps, bows, hooks, eyes, curtain rings, or other small flat items to your sewing projects. 

Sewing on buttons, snaps, hooks, and eyes with a sewing machine is faster and will look professionally done! It is the best way to make a secure attachment; it is one of those simple tasks that looks neatly finished.How to Sew a Button using the Button Stitch - fb

To sew a button with a sewing machine, a special presser foot is needed so the sewer can see the holes in the buttons. Bernina has a Button Sew-On Foot #18 that can be used.  However, two other presser feet that work well are the open embroidery foot and the darning foot.

This tutorial will show you how to use your sewing machine's built-in button sew-on program to achieve a professional appearance. Be sure to check the sewing machine manual of the machine used to see if your machine has this stitch setting.

If your machine does not have a special button sew-on stitch, use a standard zig-zag stitch. Click the link for our tutorial using the zig-zag stitch.

Hand sewing a button is an option, and it is one of the sewing skills everyone should know, as buttons often fall off garments. Thankfully, many clothes come with a spare button.

Watch our video by clicking the link below or read this article to learn more about sewing a button on a project using the sewing machine button sew-on stitch.

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link How to Sew Buttons with the Sewing Machine Button Stitch to watch in Youtube.

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WHAT YOU NEED for sewing buttons with a sewing machine

  • Garment or fabric
  • Button
  • Interfacing (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Bernina Button Sew-On Foot #18, Open Embroidery Foot #24 or Darning Foot #9
  • Scissors

INSTRUCTIONS to sew buttons using the sewing machine button stitch

STEP 1: Prepare the sewing machine to sew a flat button

When sewing on a button, some patterns call for interfacing between the fabrics so the button does not pull out after time.  For fabric without a stabilizer, put a small piece of tear-away stabilizer under the fabric to support it while attaching the button. Button Stitch Showing Interfacing

To use the sewing machine to sew a button using the button stitch, the proper presser foot needs to be attached to the sewing machine.  Attach the button Sew-on foot #18, open embroidery presser foot #24, or a darning foot #9.

These sewing machine feet allow the sewer to see the button holes while stitching.Button Stitch Machine Feet Options

Next, the feed dogs must be lowered. This is usually done on the back or side of the machine. The feed dogs move the fabric along while stitching, and the fabric should not move when sewing a button.Button Stitch Open Lower Feed Dogs

The last thing to do to prepare the sewing machine to sew a button is to set the settings on the sewing machine.

Step 2: Set the Stitch 

Set the machine to sew the button sewing stitch. On the Bernina Activa 240, the button stitch is number 15. The machine recommends using the number 9 darning foot.Button Stitch Select Button Stitch

Refer to your machine manual to find the button stitch on your machine. 

Set the machine to stop at the end of the stitch. After each button is sewn, you want the machine to stop so you can remove it and prepare to sew the next button.

Lastly, it's important to set the width of the button stitch to avoid a broken needle.Button Stitch Change Stitch Width

Place the fabric right side up and the top of the button under the presser foot. Button Stitch 1 Button Under FootIf you use the button sew-on foot, place the central pin on the foot in the center of the button between the holes.

Holding the end of the thread, slowly turn the hand wheel to ensure that the needle swing will guide the needle into each of the button holes, both the first hole and the second hole, as the stitch runs. Button Stitch 4 Needle Down on right

If it does, the width is set correctly.  If you turn the hand crank and the needle touches the button, back it up and adjust the stitch width until it goes smoothly through the hole.

The stitch length will always be zero when stitching the button stitch.

If the needle hits the button while stitching, it may break the needle or the button.

Step 3: Sew on the Button

Now that the width of the stitch in the button program is set correctly begin using the foot pedal on the machine to sew back and forth between the two button holes. Several stitches will be made to secure the thread and back and forth, and the machine will stop at the end of the stitch program.Button Stitch 6 Stitch Finished

The machine has now securely attached the button. Using scissors, cut the thread tails off.Button Stitch 8 Trim Threads

If desired, the excess thread could be taken to the back of the fabric and tied in a small knot for extra security.Button Stitch 10 Button Back

Here is the finished button attached to the fabric!Button Stitch 9 Button Front

Sewing on 4-hole buttons

It is possible to sew on a four-holed button using the same technique.  Sew the first two holes.Button Stitch 11 Four Hole Button

Then move the button under the presser foot and sew the second two holes similarly.Button Stitch 12 Sewing Four Hole Button Button Stitch 13 Finished Four Hole Button Button Stitch 14 Button Sewn Button Stitch 15 Trim Threads Button Stitch 16 Showing Back of Fabric

Here are examples of machine-sewn two-hole and four-hole buttons.Button Stitch 17 Both Buttons Sewn

Sewing on Hook & Eye

For the hook & eye, the stitch width must be adjusted so it isn't as wide.  Use the same technique of turning the hand wheel to determine the stitch width needed. Button Stitch 18 Adjust Width for Hook and Eye

Sew each part of the hook and eye one at a time using the button stitch program.Button Stitch 19 Hook and Eye Button Stitch 20 Sewing Hook and Eye Button Stitch 21 Sewing Hook Button Stitch 22 Sewing Eye Button Stitch 23 Both Hook and Eye sewn

Stitching SEW-ON snaps

The button sew-on stitch also allows for stitching sew-on snaps. Place the snap under the presser foot and sew in the same way as the buttons. The stitch width may need to be adjusted. Button Stitch 24 Sewing Snap Button Stitch 25 Sewn Snaps Button Stitch 26 Sewn Snaps Back

This same technique can attach flat bows, jewels, and small curtain rings to a project.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to sew a button with a sewing machine. With just a little practice, you will see how easy it is! 

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