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How to Sew on a Button

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Has this ever happened to you? A button clatters in the clothes dryer, and now you can’t wear your favorite shirt. In this busy age of instant gratification, many people have never learned how to sew on a button. Here is a step-by-step guide for the first-time sewer.

To sew on a button, you will need a needle, thread and scissors.

Pull off a length of thread, about as long as your arm, and cut the thread cleanly with the scissors. Insert the cut end into your mouth and moisten it with your saliva. Close your lips around it so the thread will taper to a point as you withdraw it from your mouth. Hold the needle so you can see light shining through the hole (the eye). Carefully insert the moist point of the thread through the eye of the needle.

Then let go of the thread and grasp the part that is sticking through the needle and pull it until the needle is in the center of the length of thread. Match the two ends of the thread together. Lick your index finger. Wrap the double thread once around your index finger, being sure to overlap it so it looks like an “x.” Rub your thumb and index finger together so that the thread rolls off the tip of the finger. Tighten the tangle into a knot by pinching the straight part of the thread between your index finger and the cut edge of your thumbnail. Pull the needle-end of the thread until the tangle clogs up behind the thumbnail and forms a knot.

Place the button in the position that you want it on the fabric. Poke the needle up from underneath. If the needle hits the button, withdraw it and move it just a little bit closer to where you think the hole is in the button and try again. Pull the thread through until the knot stops hard against the fabric. Then poke the needle down into the other hole of the button. Reach underneath the fabric and feel for the needle. Grasp it firmly and pull the thread all the way through until the button is snug against the fabric.

Repeat these steps a few more times. Be sure to leave at least six inches of thread between the fabric and needle, so you have room to tie it off.

To tie the knot, make sure that the needle is on the backside of the fabric (the same side where your starting knot is). Poke the needle so it slides underneath the mound of thread and the knot. Stop when your needle is still underneath the bunch of thread. Take the loose thread and wrap it three times around the needle point. Pull the needle through and simultaneously pinch the thread between your index finger and thumbnail (like you did for the first knot). Pull until it is taut.

Again, poke the needle so it slides underneath the mound of thread and the knot. Pull it all the way through until the thread is taut. Repeat three times. Then snip the thread off close to the knot with the scissors.

You have now sewn on a button. Once again you can wear your favorite shirt. And you’ll appreciate it all the more because you mended it with your own two hands.

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.