How to Sew on a Shank Button

texture of a red fabric with a black round button
Анатолий Тушенцов / Getty Images

Buttons come in two basic types, flat buttons, and shank buttons. A shank button has a raised area on the back of the button which is used to sew on the button. The depth of the shank is variable and something you should watch for when choosing a button. If you are looking for a button to close a heavy wool coat, you will want a deeper shank then if it is for closing a lightweight jacket or a blouse because of the thickness of the fabric at the buttonhole location. A short shank in a heavy coat will not stay buttoned because the button will pull back out since it is too short to stay on top of the buttonhole.

Materials You Will Need

  • Needle
  • Thread (Button & Carpet Thread is the strongest type of thread available and especially helpful if there is a metal shank on the button)
  • Scissors
  • Button(s)
  • Optional: To add stability to a shank button it is advisable to also use a small clear button or a small button which matches the inside of the garment.


  1. Thread the needle and knot the thread
  2. Locate where you will be sewing the button on to the garment. Place the needle into the fabric, starting at the backside of the garment, bringing it up through the garment.
  3. Make two or three stitches in the fabric, without the button to anchor your thread, keeping the stitches in the area, under where the button will be located.
  4. Place the small button over the anchor stitches, on the inside of the garment. Make one anchor stitch to anchor this inside button. This button is optional, but if the button is going to get a lot of use, it will protect your fabric fibers from wearing and possible tearing.
  5. Bring the needle up to the top of the garment, bring the thread through the button shank and back through the fabric (and backing button if you are using one).
  6. Pull the stitch semi-tight. The shank should still stand up over the fabric. Use a toothpick or pin to allow ease in your stitches if you need to. Do not pull the threads tight enough to sink the shank into the fabric.
  7. Stitch through the back button and up through the shank again, repeating to have about 6 stitches holding your shank button on to the garment.
  8. Bring the needle up to the under the shank button and wrap the thread around the threads which are holding the shank button. Create a loop of thread on one side of the threads and bring the needle aground through the loop. Pull the threads tight. Make at least three blanket stitches around the threads that are holding the shank button. This helps hold the button securely and prevents the button from rubbing the threads which wear on the thread and causes the button to fall off.
  9. Bring the needle to the back of the fabric, knot it off and cut.


  • Be sure to pull the entire length of thread through the layers before starting a new stitch, to prevent a knotted mess.
  • Use a thread color that is a close match to the color of your garment, so that only the button stands out.
  • Use button and carpet thread or quilting thread rather than all-purpose thread, for extra strength.
  • If you have lost the original button, you may be able to "steal" an original button from a normally unseen area, such as the shirttails. Some garments are purchased with extra buttons sewn on to the inside of the garment. If you purchase a garment that comes with extra buttons packaged with the tag, take a few moments to sew on the extra buttons in an inconspicuous area of the garment.
  • Whenever you are going to discard a garment, remove the buttons and save them. They just may be the button you need in the future.