“Speedy Button Sew-on”

For years I used a sewing machine that was a straight stitch only machine.  It would go backward and forward but did not have the ability to zig-zag.  Once I got a zig-zag capable machine, the ability to sew on buttons by machine became a reality.  Nowadays, the only buttons I sew on by hand are those with a shank on the back side, which is the only kind of buttons you cannot attach using your sewing machine.  Sewing on buttons by machine may seem intimidating at first and if you have never tried it, you might be a bit leery, but once you get the hang of this feature and you have confidence, you won’t sew on another 2 or 4 hole button by hand again!  This feature is not only good for creating a new project that uses buttons.  It is terrific when you are facing that basket of clothes that need repairs (we all have that pile) and you find most of the to-be-repaired items need buttons sewn on.  Almost all Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines have an icon of a button somewhere on your display screen or on the machine stitch selection area.  If your machine has the ability to automatically drop the feed teeth when you push the icon, great.  If not, make sure you lower the feed teeth before sewing on your button or the button won’t stay under the needle!  By dropping the feed teeth, the button under your presser foot won’t move.  Check out the following pictures and see if you would like to give this feature a try the next time you need to sew on a button. 

This weekend I was sewing charity walker bags again for my local rehab center. I was putting together 9 bags this time which meant 18 buttons! Once I have the buttons lined up with the straps, I mark all four holes with a fabric marker. This makes lining up the button on the marks a breeze when I’m at the machine.
I always try to use a colored marker that will show up easily against the fabric.
This is what the button sew-on icon looks like. All the Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines use this same picture.
I also use the mirror image icon so I can check both holes of the button before I start to sew. Again, all Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines use this same icon for mirror image.
If you have a display screen, this is the picture that shows up for sewing on the button. Usually the needle will start in the left position. If your feed teeth don’t drop automatically, please remember to lower them!
The width adjustment is set with a default width of 4mm because that is the generally standard distance of the holes for most buttons. Remember, if you change the width, you will be changing the width as the needle swings left and right. If you adjust this, make sure you test out your adjustment on your button.
This number 8 refers to the number of times the needle will go back and forth to sew on your button. I usually use 10 to 12 times on the walker bags. More than that tends to build up thread and deflect the needle.
For the walker bags, these are the settings I used for the oversized buttons. These buttons are bigger than the standard size, for sure!
At the machine, I line up my button with the marks I made on the fabric. I lower the presser foot and check to see if the needle will fit into the hole. (Remember, during this step, do not pierce the fabric with the needle. Once you do that, you will not be able to make any more adjustments!) Once I’m all set on the left…
…I use the mirror image button to move the needle to the right. If I’m okay here too, I start sewing the button. I use the start/stop feature for this, but you can also use the foot pedal. Remember to hold your thread as you start or you might find a nice nest of thread on the back side of your material.
You want to have a secure place on the button for the presser foot. If you need to turn the button to sew in all four holes, then do that. These buttons are big enough that I can hold and support the button with my fingers without turning the fabric. I sew the holes furthest away from me first…
…then move the button so I can sew the holes closest to me. This whole operation, beginning to end, usually takes me about 30 seconds a button. I finished the buttons for my 9 walker bags in about 10 minutes.
The finished product! I leave the thread tails on and knot them in the back to give a little more security to my stitching.
Once I finish sewing on the buttons and tying the threads, I add some seam sealant to the threads. Seam sealant is usually good for about 50 washings, so on these walker bags, I consider the seam sealant to be permanent.
If you tend to sew on a lot of small buttons, like for blouses or shirts, you may want to invest in the optional Button Sew-on foot. It allows you to line up those small buttons with ease and will hold it for you as you sew. The one pictured here is for my Pfaff machine. Husqvarna Viking also has one for their machines.
Just for fun I thought you might get a kick out of the tag that came with the donated fabric I used for the bags. This fabric was purchased a long time ago from a store now gone. I thought the tag might bring back fond memories for any of you who may have been in the Bronx and shopped at this store.

If you think you would like more instruction in this button sew-on feature, take a look at Sewing Mastery, find your machine and watch the video. Happy Sewing!