Most buttons can be sewn with general-purpose thread. Buttons should be sewn on loosely to allow for the overlapping garment layer containing the buttonholes. Buttons sewn too tightly will make the button difficult to close. Sew-through buttons usually have two or four holes through which the button is sewn to the garment. Shank buttons have a loop on the back through which they are sewn to the garment.
To replace a sew-through button, you will need a shank builder -- either a toothpick or a thick matchstick. Insert the needle into the fabric on the side of the garment where the button will be, and bring the point up 1/8 inch away. Pull through to the knot. Make two small stitches to mark the spot for the button and to give your work a firm base -- the button will cover the knot and stitches.
Now insert the needle through one of the holes of the button from the wrong side. Let the button fall down the needle and the thread to the garment. Place your shank builder across the top of the button. Hold it in place with your finger, and stitch over the shank builder as you sew on the button.
Match your stitches to the stitch design of the other buttons. Take three to six stitches through each pair of the button's holes, depending on how much stress the button will receive. Then bring the needle up through the fabric but not through the button.
Remove the shank builder, hold the button tightly away from the garment, and wind the thread snugly two or three times around the threads under the button. Insert the needle through to the wrong side of the garment, and push the needle under the button stitches. Pull the thread partially through, forming a loop. Insert the needle through the loop, and pull the thread snugly to form a knot. Cut the threads close to the knot.
To replace a shank button, begin by inserting the needle on the side of the garment where the button will be located. Bring the needle up 1/8 inch away, and pull the thread through to the knot. Make two small stitches to mark the spot for the button and to give a firm base for your work. The button will cover the knot and stitches.
Position the button at the marking with the shank parallel to the buttonhole. Insert the needle through the shank and then down through the fabric. Stitch through the shank four to eight times. Be careful to keep the stitches on the underside of the garment small and neat. Finally, make a knot. Insert the needle under the button stitches on the wrong side of the garment. Pull the thread partially through, forming a loop. Insert the needle through the loop, and pull the thread snugly to form a knot. Trim the threads close to the knot.
Hemming is another sewing project that takes some time to master. The next page has tips and guidelines for hemming.