How to Sew on a Button with a Shank

How to Sew on a Button with a Shank

Buttons can add a lot to a garment, accessory, jewelry, or even a home décor piece. A uniquely shaped button can give an offbeat feel to your outfit. A brightly colored button can bring some fun and a cheerful look. Fancy buttons like diamante buttons will give your clothing a sophisticated flair.

Whether you’re looking to sew your own clothing, replace the buttons on an existing garment, or bling out your home décor, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about shank buttons – what they are, ideas for using them, and the easy steps to attach them.  

button with shank

Types of buttons

If you’re new to the sewing and DIY world, you may be thinking, “What the heck is a shank button anyways? And does this mean there are hundreds of different kinds of buttons that I’ve never heard of?”

Have no fear – we’ll go through the types of buttons, and don’t worry, there aren’t hundreds.

What types of buttons are there?

These 5 types of buttons are the most common that you will find on the market (and on your clothes):

  • flat buttons: these are your standard button with two, three, or four holes that are sewn through to attach the button.
  • shank buttons: these buttons have a little metal loop on the back that can be sewn through to attach the button.
  • snap buttons: these have two sides that snap together to close rather than utilizing traditional buttonholes.
  • stud buttons: these are the sturdy buttons you’ll find on your jeans. They are attached through a stud that pierces the fabric and is attached to a metal fastener.
  • toggle buttons: these are funky shaped elongated buttons with two holes that are used to attach them. They are often found on fancy coats.

In this article, we will be focusing on shank buttons – which is one of the most common types for fancy buttons. Let’s dig a little deeper into shank buttons.

What is a shank button?

A shank button is one that has a metal loop, or shank, on the back to attach the button to the fabric. This allows for better use of the surface of the button for a fun or fancy design without dealing with holes like in a standard flat button. This is the type of button most often used for fancy buttons with unique shapes or designs.

Which kind of button is easiest to sew?

In my experience, shank buttons are the easiest to sew when you’re already planning on hand sewing your buttons on. The biggest benefit of flat buttons is that they can be attached with a sewing machine, while shank buttons must be hand sewn. 

How to Use Fancy Buttons

Before we jump into the nitty gritty of how to actually sew shank buttons onto your project – let’s get the creative juices flowing with a few project ideas for fancy buttons.

Project ideas for fancy buttons

  • replacing the buttons on a shirt or cardigan
  • decorating a clutch
  • giving some tall boot socks a little pizzazz
  • spicing up your necklaces and other jewelry
  • embellishing a fancy hat
  • giving your throw pillows a sophisticated look
  • sewing your own buttoned garments – shirts, coats, cardigans, dresses, skirts, and more

How to choose the perfect fancy buttons for your project

Choosing the perfect fancy buttons for your project is so much fun, but can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop:

  • the size of the buttons: if you’re replacing buttons on an existing garment, you’ll need to make sure to purchase buttons in the right size. If you don’t, they won’t fit through the buttonholes! That would be a real shame and a waste of money!
  • the shape of the buttons: some of the more oddly shaped buttons (the ones that aren’t a plain old circle) may not fit well through buttonholes. They would be the perfect choice for accessorizing a clutch or your home décor though!
  • the color and style of the buttons: of course, you’ll want to choose buttons that coordinate well with the item you’re planning on attaching them to!

How to Sew on a Button with a Shank

Time for the details – how to easily sew on a button with a shank.

Steps to sew on a button with a shank


  1. Mark the button placement.
  2. Thread a needle with a double layer of thread and knot the end.

.how to sew on a button with a shank

  1. Push the needle up through the fabric.


  1. Thread the needle through the shank.


  1. Push the needle back down through the fabric.


  1. Pull it tight so the button is taut to the fabric.



  1. Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times.



  1. Cut the thread to separate it into two tails.


  1. Knot the thread tails – I like to use a triple square knot for top notch security (that button won’t go anywhere!).


  1. Trim your thread tails short.


  1. Your shank button is now attached, enjoy your project!


 buttons with shank for jewelry





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