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How to Sew a Button on Short Notice

We’ve all been there: a hotel room, a button-down, a missing button.

We’ve all been there, the setting more or less the same: a hotel room, a dress shirt and…a missing button. Damn. It happens to everyone. And if it hasn’t, it will. No big deal if you happen to overpack, but you don’t overpack. You know better. Your other solution? Sew that extra button on yourself.

We stopped by Freemans Sporting Club, the New York-based menswear shop that specializes in men’s suiting, where Head Tailor Antonio De Marco gave us a quick lesson in basic button repair (there’s a more advanced method, but we’re sticking to basics here). Here’s what you’ll need: a needle, an extra button, two inches of thread (the standard for most hotel sewing kits), and, of course, the know-how.

How to Sew a Button

The Easiest Way

1. Double thread a needle. (see below)

2. Identify where you’ll place the button and bring the needle up all the way through the underside of the fabric. The knot should catch and hold its place. If it doesn’t, double or triple knot the thread.

3. Add your button by threading the needle through one hole and letting the button fall into place on the shirt. Make sure it’s flat; with this method, the button should be stitched as close to the shirt as possible.

4. Bring the needle back down through a different hole, crosswise, so that it’s threaded on the diagonal. Come back up through the original hole. Repeat two more times.

5. On the third time back up, pull the needle through one of the two remaining open holes. Bring back down crosswise through the other open hole to form an X pattern. (If the holes on your shirt feature a pattern resembling an equal sign, instead of an X, follow that pattern instead.) Repeat two times.

6. To lock the thread, pass the needle through stitches on underside of the fabric and stop short to form a small loop. Bring the needle through the loop. Repeat. Cut.

How to Double Thread a Needle

1. At a 45-degree angle and with a sharp blade, cut a clean end on your thread to remove any frays. (You’ll need about two feet of thread to sew a button — one foot if you push it.)

2. With your dominant hand, pinch just a millimeter of thread between your thumb and index finger.

3. With your other hand, push the eye of the needle onto the tip of the thread. Pull through so the ends meet. (It’s much easier to push the needle to the thread instead of the other way around.)

4. Tie a knot at the end of the thread.

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