ZJ Humbach

Which Button is Best?

ZJ Humbach
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Duration:   4  mins

Buttons are not only fun to collect, but they are great closures to use on shirts, jackets, pillow backs and other garment or home decor items. ZJ Humbach shares some helpful information about several common types of button including when they are typically used and how to sew them in place.

Button Types

If you are sewing a garment from a pattern, odds are there will be suggested buttons recommended on the pattern or some other guideline with tips for selecting buttons. If you are designing your own pattern you get to choose what kind of buttons you prefer. ZJ shows several common button choices including small and large two and four hole buttons. She explains that four hole buttons are generally used on menswear such as shirt and jackets, as well as on other garments where the button could potentially be under repeated stress. She then explains that two hole buttons are used where not as much stress is going to be applied to the button, so on garments made from thinner fabric. ZJ also explains that there is another popular type of button known as a shank button. She explains what makes it different from two and four hole buttons and how it is generally sewn in place.


When it comes to sewing a button in place it can be done either by hand or machine. Many machines have a pre-programmed feature on them that allows the machine to easily stitch a button in place. ZJ explains that no matter what diameter of button you are sewing the distance between the holes is the same, which makes using the button sewing feature on your machine quick and easy. ZJ also explains that if your machine does not have that feature you can still use your machine to sew a button in place by simply using a zig-zag stitch with an appropriate width.

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7 Responses to “Which Button is Best?”

  1. Jon Spangler

    I love ZJ's tips for sewing buttons on by hand that are in a separate video. I would like to see more about how to choose the diameter and thickness when REPLACING buttons on pants, shirts, etc. --What IS the "right" size for a waist button on a pair of pants, for instance? (I have bought pants that came with undersized buttons that did not stay fastened when I was wearing them: NOT fun!)

  2. Diana Hirsch

    1. What are tie-on, tie-off stitches? 2. How does the machine know if the button is 2- or 4-holes? Is there a setting?

  3. Elaine

    As this is a "sewing" website, I had hope that the video would demonstrate how to SEW on buttons. In particular, I find shank buttons or self covered buttons difficult and it would have been nice to see the proper way to put them on a garment. Also it would have been nice to cover when TWO buttons are needed, one inside the other outside a garment, as in a coat closure.

  4. Marjee

    You don't even discuss how to sew the buttons by hand. I think most people will be sewing them by hand. You also don't mention how flat buttons aren't sewn flat to the fabric but the stitches are raised off the fabric. Doing it by machine will only sew flat buttons flat.

  5. Laurie

    To Nayla, I have seen both ways, since I do alterations, I make any buttons match what is already there, and prefer to do this by hand. You are correct in that going across the button in an x would be longer. I checked on one of my machines that will sew on buttons and found that it can be adjusted, so you could go either an x or side by side on any cool funky button you want and long as your machine is adjustable. I have found some real nice buttons that are not standard in knitting shops.Happy Sewing.

  6. Teresa

    You might want to actually set up a teleprompter so this isn't so long running and she knows what she is saying. Scripts are so important even when you want to make it social.

  7. Nayla

    When you sew a four-hole button, do you sew diagonally creating an "X" or would you sew two parallel stitch lines. Wouldn't the distance between holes be longer when sewing diagonally? Thanks.

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