How To Sew A Shank Button: Step-By-Step Instructions

how to sew a shank button

Buttons might be small, but they hold together our clothing and, sometimes, our composure. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a button right before a big event. How to sew a shank button? Fear not; you can fix this on your own with some simple sewing supplies and a little time. 

Welcome to our step-by-step guide on sewing a shank button. Whether you’re an experienced sewist looking for a quick refresher or a beginner just starting, you’ll find this guide handy. Let’s dive into the world of threads, needles, and buttons and learn how to sew a shank button!

How to Sew a Shank Button: Step-by-Step Guides

Sewing a shank button is a practical skill useful in many situations. Whether you’re repairing an article of clothing or crafting your own, mastering the art of sewing a shank button is essential. Let’s walk through the process step by step.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Before you start sewing, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You will need a shank button, needle and thread, scissors, and the item of clothing or fabric that you want to sew the button onto.

how to sew a shank button

Step 2: Prepare Your Needle and Thread

Choose a strong and sturdy thread that matches the color of your garment. If you’re unsure about the color, opt for a neutral one, like black or white. Cut a length of thread that is double the distance from your fingertip to your elbow. This will provide enough thread for sewing and tying off at the end.

Thread your needle by inserting one end of the thread through the eye of the needle and pulling it through until there is an equal amount of thread on both sides. Tie a knot at the end of the thread to secure it in place.

Step 3: Mark Button Placement

Use a fabric pen or chalk to mark where you want your button to be placed. If you’re replacing an old button, remove any loose threads or remnants of the previous button before marking your new placement.

Step 4: Begin Sewing

Start by inserting the needle from the back of the fabric and pulling it through to the front, where your button will be placed. This will create a small knot on the back of the fabric that will act as an anchor for your button.

Place your button over the knotted thread and align it with your marked placement. Leave enough space between the button and fabric for the shank to sit comfortably.

Step 5: Create a Shank

To create a shank, wrap your thread tightly around the base of the button multiple times. This will create a small raised loop that allows the button to be easily fastened and unfastened without pulling on the fabric.

how to sew a shank button

Step 6: Secure the Button

After creating a shank by wrapping the thread around the stitches, bring your needle to the back of the fabric and tie a knot around the original anchor knot. This additional step will provide an extra layer of security, ensuring that the button stays securely in place and reducing the risk of it accidentally coming off.

Step 7: Repeat for Durability

For enhanced durability, a recommended technique is to repeat steps 4-6 by carefully sewing through all layers of fabric. This creates a robust and secure hold for the button, which is advantageous for buttons in high-stress areas like waistbands or cuffs. 

By employing this method, you can ensure that your button remains firmly in place, even during rigorous use or prolonged wear.

Step 8: Tie Off and Cut

Once you are completely satisfied with your button’s strength and precise placement, take a moment to admire your work. Then, carefully tie off any remaining thread on the back of the fabric with a secure double knot. To ensure a clean and polished finish, gently trim any excess thread, leaving a flawless and professional-looking result behind.

Tips and Tricks for Sewing a Shank Button

It can be challenging for beginners to sew a shank button perfectly on the first try. But with some practice and these helpful tips, you’ll become an expert in no time.

Using an X Pattern for Four-Hole Buttons

Consider using an X pattern for a stronger and more stylish hold when sewing a button with four holes. This technique involves threading diagonally through the holes, forming an ‘X’ across the face of the button. 

Begin by threading through the back of the fabric and the first hole, then down through the diagonal hole. Pull the thread tight, then thread up through the remaining hole on the same side and down through the diagonal hole on the other side. Repeat this process a few times to reinforce the hold and achieve the desired look. 

This technique provides extra strength and durability, perfect for high-stress areas of clothing, and adds a touch of visual interest to your button.

how to sew a shank button

Using a Thimble for Thick or Heavy Fabrics

Thick or heavy fabrics can be challenging to sew through. A thimble can be a handy tool in such situations. Place the thimble on your middle finger. 

Use the thimble to apply extra force while pushing the needle through the fabric. This not only eases the process but also protects your finger from injury. Thimbles come in various materials like metal, leather, and silicone. Choose a comfortable one that fits well.

Experimenting with Different Buttons

Experimenting with different sizes and styles of buttons is a fun way to add uniqueness to your clothing or crafts. Depending on the garment and style, you might opt for small, discreet buttons or larger, statement-making ones. 

Also, the button’s material can add a different aesthetic—plastic buttons are often casual and versatile, while metal or wooden ones can provide a more sophisticated or rustic touch. Always ensure the button’s size and style are appropriate for the fabric’s weight and the garment’s use.

Choosing the Right Button

When selecting a shank button for your project, consider style and function. Shank buttons come in various sizes, colors, and designs, so choose one that complements your garment or adds a fun accent. Additionally, ensure the button is sturdy and has a strong shank for durability. 

Here are other factors to remember when choosing the right button for your project.


Buttons can be made from various materials, including plastic, metal, wood, and natural materials like mother-of-pearl or shell. Consider your garment’s overall look and feel, and choose a button material that complements it. For example, a wooden button would be a great choice for a rustic and earthy feel if you’re making a casual denim jacket.


The size of your button should be proportional to the garment it will be attached to. A large statement button may look great on a coat or cardigan but could overwhelm a delicate blouse. Make sure to measure the buttonhole and choose a slightly smaller button so it fits comfortably without being too tight or loose.

how to sew a shank button


Buttons can add a pop of color to your garment, so choose one that complements the fabric and overall color scheme. If you’re creating a monochromatic look, consider using buttons in a contrasting color for added interest. Additionally, please consider the finish of the button, whether it’s matte, shiny, or textured, as this can also affect the overall look.


Consider the function of your garment when choosing a button. Will the button be purely decorative, or will it need to withstand frequent use? If you’re making a coat or jacket that will be worn often, choose a sturdy and durable button with a strong shank. You can opt for a more delicate and intricate design if it’s for a decorative purpose.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, the final decision on which button to choose should be based on your preference. You want to select a button you love and feel confident will elevate your project. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and materials until you find the perfect button for your project.

Troubleshooting When Sewing a Shank Button

Sewing a shank button may seem simple, but it can quickly become frustrating if you run into issues. Whether you are new to sewing or have been doing it for years, common problems can arise when sewing a shank button. We will discuss some troubleshooting tips to help you overcome these issues and successfully sew a shank button.

Thread Breaks During Sewing

One common issue when sewing a shank button is the thread breaking. This can be caused by various reasons, such as using a thread that’s too thin for the fabric, a needle that’s not sharp enough, or tension imbalance. 

To avoid this:

  • Ensure that the thread matches the fabric’s weight and durability.
  • Regularly replace dull needles to maintain clean and secure stitches.
  • Adjust the tension settings according to the fabric and thread being used. 

It may take a bit of trial and error, but these steps can prevent thread breaking and lead to a more seamless sewing experience.

how to sew a shank button

Button Coming Loose After Sewing

Another common challenge is the button coming loose after sewing. The main reason for this could be insufficient thread securing at the end of the sewing process. It’s essential to knot the thread multiple times to ensure a tight grip. 

Additionally, not passing the thread through the shank enough times can result in a loose button. To rectify this, pass the thread through the shank at least three to four times for secure attachment. 

Difficulty in Sewing Thicker Fabrics

Sewing a shank button onto thicker fabrics can be challenging because the needle may struggle to pass through the fabric. To tackle this, use a thicker needle suitable for the fabric type. 

Pre-puncture the fabric using a pin or a smaller needle to create a guide hole before sewing the button. Using a thimble to push the needle through without hurting your fingers can also be helpful. Sewing a shank button onto thicker fabrics can be made easier and less daunting by taking these steps.

How To Repair A Broken Shank Button

Repairing a broken shank button may initially seem daunting, but fear not! It’s quite manageable with the right tools, a little patience, and some extra attention to detail. 

Step 1: Remove The Broken Button

To begin, carefully remove the broken button by delicately cutting the threads holding it. You can use a small pair of scissors or a seam ripper for this task. Take your time to ensure that you don’t damage the fabric in the process.

Step 2: Prepare The New Button

Once the broken button has been successfully removed, it’s time to prepare the new button for attachment. Take a needle and thread it with a length that matches the fabric’s color. 

Begin by inserting the thread through the hole in the shank of the button, leaving a tail of thread on the underside of the button. This will anchor the button securely in place.

how to sew a shank button

Step 3: Make A Few Stitches

Next, make a few stitches through the fabric where the button will be positioned. Be meticulous in your stitching, ensuring the button is secure and perfectly flat against the fabric. This will guarantee a professional-looking repair.

Step 4: Secure The Button

To add that finishing touch, wrap the thread around the base of the button shank several times. This will create a shank thread, giving the button some height off the fabric. Not only does this add a touch of elegance, but it also makes it easier to button up the garment.

Once the shank thread is in place, carefully push the needle back down through the fabric to the underside. Tie off the thread securely to prevent any unraveling, and trim off any excess thread.

By following these detailed steps, you’ll have successfully repaired a broken shank button, restoring the functionality and aesthetics of your garment. Now, you can confidently wear it again, knowing you’ve mastered the art of button repair.

How To Sew Shank Buttons On A T-Shirt Without Puckering The Fabric

Sewing shank buttons onto a t-shirt can seem daunting, especially if you aim to achieve a smooth finish without puckering the fabric. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you execute this task seamlessly.

Step 1: Select Right Tools

You’ll need the right tools: a shank button, a needle, a thread, and a thimble. Opt for a thread that matches your t-shirt color for a seamless look. Thread your needle and make a knot at the end. Consider using a double thread for extra strength.

Step 2: Locate The Button

Determine where you want your button to be. Mark the spot with a fabric marker for accuracy. Push the needle through the back of the fabric to the front at the marked spot. Make sure to leave a small amount of thread at the back.

how to sew a shank button

Step 3: Use Thread To Secure The Button

Place the button shank over the needle on the front of the fabric. Use the thimble to push the needle through the hole in the shank and back through the fabric. Do this several times to secure the button firmly, but be careful not to pull too tight as this can cause puckering.

Once the button is secure, push the needle to the back of the fabric one last time. Wrap the thread around the stitches under the button a few times to prevent the button from loosening over time. This creates a shank of thread that holds the button slightly above the fabric, allowing room for the buttonhole layer.

Step 4: Tie Off Your Thread

Tie off your thread at the back of the fabric. Create a small loop by making a stitch without pulling the thread through. Put your needle through the loop and pull tight to form a knot. Trim off the excess thread. Repeat the process for any additional buttons.

When sewing shank buttons, remember that patience is key. Rushing through the process might result in noticeable puckering. Practice makes perfect, and with time, you’ll master the art of sewing shank buttons on a t-shirt without puckering the fabric, adding a professional touch to your DIY projects.

How to Care for Your Clothes to Prevent Losing or Damaging Buttons

Proper clothing care extends beyond merely washing and ironing. One must also pay attention to smaller details, such as buttons, as they are essential to functionality and aesthetics. A few simple tips can be followed to prevent losing or damaging buttons.

Ensure All Buttons Are Fastened

Before washing, ensure all buttons are fastened. This reduces their chances of snagging on other items or the washing machine drum. Hand washing clothes with large or delicate buttons is also advisable. If machine washing is the only option, use a laundry bag or turn the garment inside out to protect the buttons.

Avoid Applying Direct Heat

When ironing clothes, it is important to be mindful of the buttons. Avoid applying direct heat to the buttons, as high temperatures can potentially lead to cracking or discoloration. To prevent this, a helpful tip is to turn the garment inside out before ironing or carefully ironing around the buttons, ensuring they are protected while still achieving wrinkle-free results.

how to sew a shank button

Regular Inspections And Prompt Replacement

Regular inspections and prompt replacement or reinforcement of loose buttons can prevent loss or further damage to your clothes. By adopting these simple yet crucial practices, such as thoroughly examining the buttons for any signs of wear and tear, you can significantly extend the life of your garments and maintain their original look and quality for a much longer. 

Taking the time to care for your clothes in this way saves you money in the long run, helps reduce waste, and promotes sustainable fashion choices. So, make it a habit to show love to your wardrobe by giving it the attention it deserves!


What Is A Shank Button?

A shank button is a specific type of button commonly used in sewing. It is distinguished by a small loop (the “shank”) attached at the back, which is used for threading. This design allows the button to stand off the fabric, making it a good choice for thicker fabrics and clothing items, such as coats and jackets. 

The loop also facilitates buttoning and unbuttoning, providing space for the material to sit in between the button and the garment when buttoned.

In Which Types Of Garments Are Shank Buttons Most Commonly Used?

Shank buttons are commonly used in heavier garments that require more support and strength from the fastening, such as outerwear, including coats, jackets, and denim jeans. They are also popular decorative embellishments on dresses, craft projects, and accessories like handbags or shoes.

What Are Some Creative Ways To Use Shank Buttons?

Shank buttons can be used creatively beyond their typical function in clothing. 

  • Jewelry: These buttons can be turned into unique jewelry pieces like earrings, necklaces, or bracelets.
  • Home decor: Shank buttons can be glued onto picture frames or mirrors to add a stylish, vintage touch.
  • Hair accessories: They can be used to decorate hair bands or bobby pins, creating custom hair accessories.
  • Artwork: Shank buttons can also be utilized to craft beautiful canvas button art.
  • Bookmark: You can create a charming bookmark by attaching a string to a shank button.

Are There Different Styles Or Designs Of Shank Buttons Available?

Yes, shank buttons are available in a variety of styles and designs. They come in numerous shapes, sizes, and materials, including plastic, wood, metal, and bone. 

Some shank buttons are simple and unadorned, perfect for a minimalist or modern aesthetic, while others can be quite ornate, featuring detailed carvings or inlays. Therefore, whether you’re seeking a subdued look or want to make a bold statement, there’s likely a shank button that suits your design preferences.


How to sew a shank button? With our clear step-by-step instructions and a bit of practice, anyone can master this essential sewing skill. Whether you’re looking to make your clothes, repair a beloved item, or even embark on more complex sewing projects, it’s a handy technique. 

Remember, patience and precision are key. With these, you’re well on mastering sewing a shank button. Happy sewing!

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