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May 6

The Button Foot & How-To Use It

Have you guys ever heard of (or used) your button foot?  No… I don’t mean your buttonhole foot, the plain old button foot.

Top Down:

Side View:

It’s basically a rubber coated foot that has wide gaps to allow for stitching the holes of the button to your garment.

The button foot is one of my favorite sewing machine feet that makes quick work of sewing on your buttons.  Now you can’t use it for everything, but it’s perfect to use for light weight fabrics such as blouses and some skirts.

You can’t use it for heavy weight garments since you’ll need to build in extra space between the button and the fabric to allow for ease of movement between each layer of fabric (ie: the use of thread shanks).  Do you know what I mean?  Sewing on buttons with the button foot doesn’t give you much (if any) wiggle room between the buttons and buttonholes on the other side of the opening.

How it Works

Place the button foot on your machine and get your button handy.

Place your button on your garment, in the correct position and slide it all underneath the button foot and lower the presser foot lever to secure.

Adjust your machine to a zig-zag stitch AND do one of the following:

Either:

  • Set your machine to ‘darn’ if you have that option, so the feed dogs aren’t engaged

Or:

  • Set your stitch length to “ZERO”, so that your zig-zag stitch doesn’t have a lengthwise movement, it only has a width-wise movement.

When you don’t have any stitch length while your machine is on a zig-zag stitch, the needle just moves left-right-left-right which is what you want in order to sew your buttons on.

A good tip is to find your appropriate zig-zag width on a scrap of fabric first.  I always use the fly-wheel by hand as to not damage your needle by bashing it in the button (and missing the buttonholes).

Once you have the correct width selected, you can use the foot pedal and zip right through your buttonholes in a matter of seconds.

After I’ve sewed on all of my buttons, I always take a needle and thread the left-over thread ends from the right side of the button to the wrong side and tie them in knots before trimming the thread ends off completely.

And there you have it!  Quick easy buttons sewn on by machine in a matter of seconds.

My finished blouse with machine-stitched buttons:

Buttons with the buttonholes over top:

Sewing on buttons with my machine is one of my favorite things to do and cuts the time in half (or more).

Have any of you guys tried your button feet before?  Once you try it, I bet you’ll never want to do them by hand again.  :)

  1. Norma / May 6 2013

    What timing! I was just using my button foot for the first time this weekend. I was surprised how much I liked sewing on buttons by machine.

    • Liz / May 6 2013

      I know, I do too! This foot makes sewing on buttons fun. :)

  2. Kosyum / May 6 2013

    I love my button foot! When I use it on heavy fabrics, I slide two toothpicks under the button, just outside the holes. Then, after its stitched, pull out a long piece of thread before cutting, and use it to make a thread shank!

    • Liz / May 6 2013

      Thanks so much for adding this tip in! I was going to say that you could put something underneath the button to raise it up, but spaced out. This is an excellent point to make! Thanks Kosyum. :)

  3. Nadine in NC / May 6 2013

    I agree that the button foot is invaluable. Perhaps more people will be tempted to use theirs after this helpful tutorial. I’ll add a few things I’ve learned to do differently. I tape my buttons to the fabric with Scotch tape so the buttons don’t shift as I’m getting them in place under the foot. I also use a T-pin centered between the button’s holes to help create a shank as I zigzag. My button foot is sort of rubbery and I push the end of the T-pin slightly into it to hold it securely as I’m sewing. After I finish sewing, I just tear the tape away, which does sometimes require using tweezers. I also drop a dab of Fray Check on the top of the thread shanks and trim the threads instead of being industrious like you and pulling them to the wrong side and tying them off. My husband has lost so many shirt buttons over the years that I had to find the easiest way possible to sew them on in order not to lose my sanity.

    • Liz / May 6 2013

      Thanks so much Nadine, these are all excellent button stitching tips too! :)

  4. Lauren / May 6 2013

    I want to marry you because of this tutorial. Don’t tell my husband. :)

  5. Rachel in central VA / May 6 2013

    To be honest, I have never used it- mostly because all my machine sewn buttons on store-bought clothes, fall off to easily! Right now I am a big fan of the cross pattern in my hand sewn buttons ;)
    That being said, I DO love my buttonhole feature ;)

  6. kaitui_kiwi / May 7 2013

    I always joke that I don;t “do” hand sewing, hehe, well I do, but not for buttons. I LOVE my button foot, one of the first feet I bought for new machine! :)

  7. Jenny / May 8 2013

    Ooh, I have something similar to this (my machine is a bit of a relic so it looks slightly different) but for some reason have never really considered trying it. Silly really. I’m constantly surprised at all the cool things my machine can do that I never knew about!

  8. ErinKG / May 9 2013

    I have a metal version, but it looks similar. There is a slot in the middle where you insert a toothpick or other small item (I usually just use a heavy duty pin) to make the shank. From the top photo it looks like yours has this slot as well, but I can’t tell for sure.

    I like using the button foot, but I find that buttons sewn on this way don’t stay on as long. Once one of the threads is worn through, the rest go quickly. I do use it quite frequently though.

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