Hemming Jeans Part II, with Catch Stitch Tutorial

 

In my last post, we went over how to shorten your jeans, or other pants, keeping the original hem intact.  We left off with the jeans the length you want them, and a little fold of fabric on the inside.  That fold may have cut and overcast edges, or not, depending on how much you needed to shorten the legs.

First, let’s neaten up the thread ends left from sewing the hem by hiding them, and then trimming.  Get out your hand-sewing needle and thimble.  (Any time that the fabric I’m sewing is thick or tough, I use a thimble to protect the finger I’m pushing the needle with.)  Thread your leftover tails onto the needle, and take a stitch between the layers of the fold.  If the ends are short, you may need to put the needle into the fabric, and then thread the tails onto it.  Pull the needle through, and clip the tails where they emerge.  This keeps your stitches from pulling out later, and also keeps the thread tails from showing.

 

Jeans hem ends

 

This next thing I’m going to tell you to do is not exactly industry standard.  It’s better!  If you’ve ever had your jeans hemmed at the store where you bought them, they probably sewed them in a similar way to what I showed you in the last post.  At the store, for some reason, they usually turn the fold of extra fabric up and stitch it in place.  I think that looks weird, and like the jeans have obviously been hemmed after the fact, since the bulky fold of fabric is not where you would expect it to be for the hem.  It looks much more natural if you fold the extra fabric down, where the original hem is.  Try folding it both ways and see what I mean.

So, if we turn the fabric fold down, how to keep it there?  You could stitch beside the original hem stitches by machine, either with thread that blends into the jeans fabric, or a contrasting thread you like.  However, that’s a lot of layers of denim to sew through, and it’s likely to be difficult for your machine, and cause some skipped stitches and broken thread.  There are some times when using a hand stitch really is quicker and easier, and I think this is one of them.

Then hand-sewing stitch I like for this is called a catch stitch.  It’s designed to do just what we want here, to keep two layers of fabric in place against each other.

 

Jeans hem catchstitch 1

 

I used a doubled thread, to make the stitches a little more resistant to abrasion.  Get a piece of thread no longer than twice the length of your arm.  Thread it onto a sturdy hand sewing needle (choose one with a little more metal around the eye if you can, it will be less likely to break in the thick fabric) and knot the two thread ends together.

You want the knot to be on the inside of the fold, so stick the needle in there, and bring it out a little way away, on the outside edge of the fold.

Catch stitch crosses back on itself as you sew it.  To do that, you’ll make each new stitch further along in the direction you are sewing (away from you or to your right in the pictures) but bring the needle in and out going the opposite way (towards you or to your left in the pictures).  Hopefully this will make sense as you read through the next few steps.

Make the first small stitch in the original hem.  Go through only the first layer of denim, to make it easier, and so that the stitches won’t show on the outside.

 

Jeans hem catchstitch 2

 

Make the second stitch in the fold, again taking a small stitch through just one layer.

 

Jeans hem catchstitch 3

 

Continue alternating taking a stitch in the fabric fold and one in the original hem.  Make each stitch towards you/to the left, then move a little bit away from you/to the right, and to the opposite side to take the next stitch.

When you get to the seams, you may want to make the stitches smaller and/or closer together, since those areas are thicker and more likely to flip up.

What if you run out of thread?  No problem.

 

Jeans hem backstitch

 

When you get near the end of the thread, secure it by taking two small backstitches a little way apart.  It’s fine to only go through one layer of fabric, and the stitches can be tiny, as long as they loop back on themselves.

Bring the needle out a little way from the second backstitch, and snip off the thread where it emerges.  Get a new length of thread, and tie a knot in it.  Stick the needle inside the fold (to hide the knot again), and bring it out where you left off stitching.  Keep stitching around the hem until you reach the place where you started.

 

Jeans hem new thread

 

That’s about it!  Backstitch again when you get to the end, to secure the thread.  Bury the ends and clip them off.

Enjoy your new hemmed pants!

Get Your Sewing Questions Answered with Me and Sew,Mama,Sew!

cartoon with both threaded small

 

Here is the first exciting event in celebration of the release of my new e-book Hello Sewing Machine – I’ve collaborated with the lovely ladies at Sew, Mama, Sew! to answer your sewing questions!  Head on over there and put in any basic questions you have, and I’ll answer some of them in a post coming up soon.  I’m curious to see what you want to know!

 

How to Hem Your Own Jeans, and Keep the Original Hem

 

Jeans hem finished hems

 

Once you get started sewing, I’m guessing one thing you’ll want to tackle is to hem your jeans.  You can definitely do it yourself, and keep that distressed hem just as it is.  You’ll need just a few more pieces of equipment than for normal sewing.

(If you need to start with some basic instruction about how to use your sewing machine, check out my e-book for beginners!)

 

Jeans hem equipment

 

A zipper foot lets you stitch with the needle to one side of the foot, right next to the original hem.

Jeans needles for your sewing machine have a sharper point and a longer eye, for sewing through layers of denim.  For the most part, you won’t have to stitch through too many layers with this method, but it still helps.  If you don’t have jeans needles, use a sharp rather than a universal needle.

It really helps to have a spacer, something you can prop up part of the presser foot with as you sew over thick seams (you’ll see why below).  This one came with my sewing machine, but you could also use something not too wide and about 1/8 to 1/4” (3 to 6 mm) thick, like maybe a popsicle stick.

A sturdy hand-sewing needle, and a thimble to push it with, is essential for the finishing of this method (I’ll go over that in the next post).

You’ll also need pins and thread.  The ones you use for regular sewing are fine.  I didn’t happen to have matching thread, so I used black.  It doesn’t show at all on the finished jeans.  Darker thread colors usually blend in easier than lighter ones.

Once you gather your equipment, try on your jeans, and fold up the hem to figure out where you would like it to fall.

 

Jeans hem measuring

 

You can get someone to help measure how much you want to hem your jeans up, while you try them on.  Or pin, try them on, and adjust until you get the hem where you would like it.

Figure out how much in total you want to take out of the length.  Make a fold that measures half that much, starting at the inside edge of the original hem.  You’re going to stitch right next to that original hem, effectively removing the fold of fabric from the length of the jeans.  Whether you’re using cm or inches, the principle is the same, your fold should be half the amount you want to take out, since both sides of the fold are removed from the length.

Make sure your fold is on the inside of the jeans, so it won’t show when you’re done.

Pin the fold in place every couple of inches.  Put the pins in perpendicular to the fold, or at an angle as shown, to make them easy to pull out as you sew.

Pay special attention at the seams, making sure that the original seam lines and topstitching match on both sides of the fold.

 

Jeans hem zipper foot

 

Set up to sew right next to the original hem, using a straight stitch (width 0), length about 2.5 mm.  Use your zipper foot so that the foot can sit flat on just the fold of fabric.  Move the needle position all the way over to your left, towards the original hem, so that you can stitch right next to it (and not hit the foot with the needle).  Let the edge of the foot touch the edge of the hem as you sew.

When you get to the leg seams of the jeans, you’re suddenly sewing through a whole bunch of denim layers, instead of just two.  When this happens, the presser foot ends up at a steep angle, which makes it much more likely to skip stitches (resulting in a weak seam).  This is where the spacer comes in.  When the front of the foot reaches the seam, prop up the back of the foot with the spacer to make it level.  Then as you stitch over the seam, move the spacer to the front of the foot, to keep it level until you are past the bulky seam.  Be careful to keep the spacer in front of the needle, so that you don’t hit it as you sew!

 

Jeans hem spacer

 

If your machine still skips a few stitches, try sewing in reverse and then forward again over the part that’s giving you trouble.  Going slowly over the bulky parts will also help.  You can even use the hand wheel on your machine to make just one stitch at a time.  If it’s skipping a bunch of stitches in a row, check to see if the bobbin thread has broken.  If so, stop and cut the top thread too, then start again so that you overlap a few of the last stitches before the thread broke, to hold them in place.  If the leg seams are giving you a lot of trouble, you can also try flattening them as much as possible using a steam iron, or pounding them with a hammer.

When you get all the way around the leg, sew over the first few stitches that you made, to hold them in place.

Do not skip this step: once you sew around the hem, try on the jeans again to check that the length is where you want it.  If not, at this stage all you have to do is pull out this one line of stitching, and start again.  If the length looks good, you’re ready to finish off your hem.

If you took out more than about an inch in total, it’s likely that your folded out fabric is long enough to show below the hem if you turn it down.  If so, trim it to about 3/8″ (10 mm), or a bit smaller than the original hem (I repeat, try on the jeans and check the length of the new hem before you do this).  To keep these cut edges from unraveling, overcast them with a zigzag stitch.

 

Jeans hem overcasting

 

Use a regular sewing foot for this (zigzag and a zipper foot don’t mix).  Stitch close to the edge.

This whole process is pretty darn simple once you get the hang of it.  You can also use this method to hem other pants, when you want to keep the original hem intact.  It will be even easier if you don’t have think layers of denim to sew through.

In the next post I’ll go over my method for tacking down the extra fabric to make the hem look natural.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, just leave a comment!

 

Hello Sewing Machine—Behind the Scenes, and Acknowledgements

 

So today, a bit more about my new e-book, how I made it, and some well-deserved thanks to those who helped out!

 

 

HSM page 6 small

 

My first idea to make this book revolved around a cartoon sewing machine, and adding real thread to my drawings.   I thought it would help explain how all sewing machines are (in a lot of ways) pretty much the same.  I hoped that the thread would show up, and look like thread, and add a fun element of style (it did!).  But I knew that I needed more detail to explain some things.  For months I was stuck, thinking that I needed photographs, and not figuring out how to make them as good as I knew they would need to be.  That’s when my husband Bryan (a professional photographer) suggested maybe I didn’t need photos at all.  After all, instruction manuals of all kinds are still full of illustrations.   Sometimes they are even clearer than photos would be.  The more I thought about this, the more I thought he was right.  I started drawing, and then I knew he was right.  In an illustration, everything that I would like to be in focus is so, and the visual emphasis can be wherever I want it to be.

 

bobbin winding treadle small

This has got to be my favorite drawing in the book.  To find out what’s going on, you might have to get yourself a copy!

 

As I drew, I took some snapshots for reference, so I wouldn’t have to keep moving my hands back and forth and get them in the same place again, etc.  I also took a couple just to show my process and progress.

 

HSM paper sewing

Sewing thread onto a drawing of my mom’s treadle sewing machine, using that same machine!

 

The fact that Bryan suggested doing these drawings points to another really important thing about Hello Sewing Machine, which is that I didn’t make it by myself.  In fact, sometimes it seems like I didn’t make it all (despite the weeks of drawing, months of writing and editing, etc.), but more like I stood in the middle and brought together elements from everyone and everything I knew, things which already existed, and they coalesced and became this book.  I now understand why authors seem so passionate about their acknowledgements!   Mine are in the book, but I’m going to post them publicly here too.  Lookout!  Thanks below:

 

HSM desk chaos

Desk reaches maximum level of chaos, near the end of the drawing phase.

First and foremost, thanks to my mom.  She made most of my clothes when I was little, and created fabric magic right before my eyes.  Not only that, she taught me to sew, too!  She gave me access to all kinds of creative tools and supplies from the time I was old enough to hold them.  When I grew up, she bought me a sewing machine I couldn’t afford on my own, and I’m still welcome to anything and everything in her sewing room at any time.  I absolutely would not have the skills I do now without her in my life.

A close second for thanks is my husband Bryan.  Besides the idea to illustrate this book, I also leaned quite heavily on his knowledge during the design and layout phase.  Every day I lean on his love and support, and the fact that he believes in me.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life and our many adventures together.

 

HSM page 32 small

 

Also many thanks to Van and Charlie Odegaard, for letting me teach sewing to real live students at Odegaard’s Sewing Center!  I’ve learned at least as much as I’ve taught.  And I would like to thank Jena R. and Michael K. for the music. I listened to a lot of music during this project, and the CDs they gave me were like friends keeping me company.  Thanks to Brian S. for a great idea in word processing—it worked!  And last but never least, my truly amazing proofreaders: Kelly, Tom, Wendelin, & Lauren.

I’ve been as much humbled as excited by this whole process.  Both are great feelings!  I hope to continue to share the love here.  More soon . . .

Start Sewing with my Brand-New E-book!

 

HSM cover small

 

It’s the reveal of the super-secret project I’ve been working on for so long!  And it’s safe to say I’ve never been as excited about a post, or a project, as I am about this one.  Nearly a year ago, I had an idea to make a tutorial that would get people started sewing.  It would assume the reader knew nothing, and explain as clearly and approachably as I could make it, how sewing machines work and how to use them.

Well, it’s here, today!  Hello Sewing Machine is a PDF e-book, available for instant download from my Etsy shop!  I’ve spent the past year dreaming about it, writing it, drawing the illustrations, editing, doing design and layout, and learning so much about all of the above as I went.  It’s kind of unreal to finally see the finished product on a screen in front of me.  

 

HSM in progress

 

So, do you have a sewing machine sitting in your closet?  Would you like to get it out and start sewing?  Do you already sew, but you have someone you’ve been wanting to teach?  Do it today!  This guide will get you going.  It has everything you need to know about how your sewing machine works.  I want Hello Sewing Machine to be a bridge between would-be sewers and all the patterns, sewing blogs, fabric stores, everything that’s out there to help you make whatever you want.  All you have to do is take the first few steps to get started!

 

HSM page 7

 

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m a firm believer in handmade, and that by being makers, we make our lives better in just about every possible way: more connected, more sustainable, more grounded, more satisfied, more joyous.  It’s my hope that this little book will give more people the tools they need to realize those benefits in their own lives.

 

HSM page 13

 

I’ll be celebrating this release with some very relevant beginning sewing posts (including an all new one on hemming jeans) plus some other very exciting things, so watch this space!

 

Another Way to Rip Seams

 

pocket seam ripping 1

 

If you’re going to make anything, it’s fairly certain that you’ll have to un-make and re-make part of it at some point.  It’s not bad, it’s just part of the process.  In sewing, this involves seam ripping.  It’s an essential skill for makers, and especially those who are interested in refashioning, repairing, upcycling, etc.

Although some folks rip stitches fast and furious with razor blades, I have always stuck to my trusty seam ripper.  Recently I’ve been using it in a slightly different way on straight and zig-zag seams, with really good results.

seam ripping 2014 0

 

The photo at left shows classic seam-ripper technique.  Slide the seam ripper into the seam, use the pointed part to pick up a stitch or two, and slide them into the blade in the middle of the ripper to cut.  Once you have a couple of stitches cut, pull the seam open and you will be able to see and cut more without harming the fabric.

 

 

 

seam ripping 2014 1For this technique though, everything stays flat, which is especially nice if you have a delicate fabric or it’s hard to see the stitches in the seam.  Use the ripper to cut a stitch, and then another one 1 -2 inches away, creating a small thread section with cut ends.  Then use the long prong of the ripper to pull a few stitches up and out of the back thread without cutting them.  You may need to do this one by one if the stitches are small.  The object is to get a little tail that’s long enough to hang onto with your fingers.

 

Once you get a tail, grab it with one hand, hold the fabric with the other, and pull the the thread section out in one go!  Pulling close to the plane of the fabric, instead of straight up, will make it easier.

 

pocket seam ripping 3

 

If you flip the fabric to the back you’ll see that the stitches on the other side, which were held in place by the ones you just pulled out, are now free.  All you have to do is cut a stitch a little way down the seam and you can use the free thread to pull out another section.  Every time you pull out a section, flip the fabric over and you’ll find a tail ready to pull out the next section.  I find this quite fast, and it also creates fewer tiny thread ends that you’ll have to clean up.

 

pocket seam ripping 4

 

If you are ripping out a specific part of a seam, such as between the pins here, you may want to have a longer thread to work with when you get to your stopping point, so you can tie a knot to hold it in place.  In this case, pull up the last inch or two of stitches without cutting either side.  It may help to turn the seam ripper so the stitches don’t slide into the cutting part.  Once a stitch is loosened, you can also use your fingers, the whole handle of the seam ripper, or another tool to pull the stitches up without cutting them.

 

pocket seam ripping 5

 

When you get to the new end of the seam, pull on the thread to get the last stitch from the back side to pop through onto your side.  Slide the point of the seam ripper into this new stitch and pull it up so that both ends are on the same side.

Tie a knot or use backstitch, and bury the ends if they’ll show.

 

pocket seam ripping 6

 

Again, this last part is only necessary if the end of the old seam won’t be crossed by or stitched over with a new seam, and so you need to secure the end.

This way of seam ripping works great on zig-zag seams, too, although it won’t work with seams where the thread crosses back over itself.  Sometimes I’ll get lucky and pull the right thread on serged seams, but I don’t have a sure-fire formula for those yet.  Maybe you do?

I’m sure that others use this technique, I just discovered it recently and I’ve been using it all the time …

 

Sewing Machine Painter’s Tape Stitch Guide

Just a quick tip today.  Last night I was sewing pillowcases for my wonderful massage therapist, Cindy Clark of Hand Dance Massage.  I know, this is good trade to have, right?

Some of the hems were deep, I needed a seam guide outside the ones engraved on my stitch plate.  Painter’s tape/blue tape is perfect for this – it’s easy to apply and reposition, it has a sharp edge which I  can see clearly against the machine, and it peels right off when I am done.  Other types of tape work too but they may be more prone to leave sticky gunk behind (duct tape = no).

You can either use the edge of the tape as a guide or draw a line (or more than one) on the tape.  Either way be as precise as you can with your measuring.  Measure from the center of the foot, where the needle enters the plate when it’s centered.  Once you know how far out the other lines on your stitch plate are, it may be easier to measure from one of them or from the edge of the plate.  Try to get your tape even, and at the right distance, so you can use the whole length of it to guide your fabric.

Remember that if hemming, you need to sew slightly inside your hem to catch it.  For example, I pressed up 2″ for a hem, so my guide here is at 1 and 7/8″.  By watching the guide, you can sew the hem from the top or the bottom, whichever works better for your project.

Zoom in on the picture to see more clearly what I’m talking about.

What do you use painter’s tape for?  What are you trading for?

Wire Turns Fabric Tubes!

The other day I was making fabric straps, and the time came to turn them right side out.  I never bought one of those proprietary tube-turning things, and I don’t do this very often, so usually I just tie the seam ends to a blunt needle and slide it through the tube bit by bit.  It’s kind of a pain but it usually works.  However, on this day my studio was somehow completely devoid of blunt needles.  I don’t know where they went, but I suspect karma is involved, since I always tell even my knitting students to buy sharp ones for burying ends.  I tried it with a sharp one, but that was clearly the wrong idea, of course the needle point kept piercing the inside of the tube.

After stewing it around in my brain for a while, I remembered that I had some millinery wire left over from another project.  I twisted one end into a loop, tied the thread ends to it, and pulled it through – viola!  Then I tried it with beading wire, which is much thinner and more flexible, but also worked just fine.

This is why we invented pliers, so you can make a loop smaller than your finger.  You may need to squash the loop flatter with the pliers to get it to be narrow enough to go through your tube.

Twist the wire around itself – it’s more secure if you twist both the end and the main wire around each other, not just one around the other.

Cover the pokey wire end with some tape to keep it from catching on the fabric  – I used artist’s tape, electrical tape or painter’s tape should also work, duct tape is too gooey.

Ok!  Slide your new wire tube turner inside your tube.  Take the ends left from sewing the seam and tie them securely around the wire loop.  If your knot is not secure it may pull out part way through the turning process – terrible!  I pushed two thread ends through the loop one way, and two through the other way, and tied them in several square knots on top of the loop.

Pull the wire into the fabric tube, and the tube should start to turn inside itself.  Sometimes it’s a bit hard to get it started, you can try using your finger nails to pull the scrunched up fabric over the end.

General tube turning tips:  Don’t get so much fabric bunched up right where the tube is turning that it gets packed in and won’t turn.  If you get stuck, back the bunched up fabric away from the end and try moving a smaller amount through the turn.  Pull on the wire threader and the turning point, stretching a bit can help.  Once you get going, pull on the fabric end inside the tube instead of the wire, so there’s no danger of the thread breaking.

It’s much easier if you have a slippery fabric!  Mine at the moment is two layers of cotton, not slippery at ALL, but it still worked without too much fuss.  I wanted my straps to be as thin as possible, the limit with this fabric was a 1/4″ seam.  With a slipperier fabric smaller could work, keep in mind though that you have to have enough seam allowance so that your finished tube won’t unravel, and that seam allowance has to fit inside the finished tube!  I zigzaged over my SA since I absolutely do not want to take my dress apart later due to straps coming apart.

What am I making with these tubes anyway? A sundress!  I took this picture on Sunday during our giant spring snowstorm, which is now melting like crazy.  Whatever the weather says, it’s time for spring/summer sewing!  I used the fabric tubes for the straps, and also button loops at the top.  I’m glad to have my new wire turner, I can make some more straps for tops and dresses for the upcoming season.

Here is my sketch of the finished sundress.  I haven’t decided whether to do the big patch pockets or not.

What do you think?  What are you making now?

All About Backstitch

 

Backstitch Drawing 1

 

Revised and updated with new photos and text (and drawings I found in my sewing class materials), this tutorial is now better than ever! Feel free to grab a fabric scrap and some thread and follow along.

If I had to name the single most useful hand sewing stitch I know, it would probably be the backstitch. I love it for repairs, for sewing in zippers, and for anywhere I need the control and flexibility of hand stitching with a hard-wearing stitch.

When you think of hand sewing, you probably think of running stitches, like the ones below. The needle dips into the fabric and comes up going in the same direction. You can make several running stitches on the needle before pulling the thread through, and the thread slides easily through several running stitches at once.

 

new backstitch 1

 

In a backstitch, the thread loops around itself, which makes the stitch much harder to pull out. To make one, take the needle backwards from the direction you’re stitching in, stab into the fabric, and bring the needle out at the further end of the next stitch. Then go backwards again and take the next stitch.

 

new backstitch 2

 

You can see the overlapping loops on the wrong side (backside) of the stitching. By contrast, the running stitches look the same on both sides.

 

new backstitch 3

 

If you make backstitches touching each other, from the right side (public side) it looks almost exactly like machine stitching, which makes this a great stitch for repairs and touch-ups.

 

new backstitch 4

 

You can also leave more space between small backstitches. This is sometimes called a prickstitch. It’s the stitch I use to sew zippers into just about everything, including my trousers! I love sewing zippers by hand, it gives me great control and precision, and more flexibility about when I attach them. Susan Khalje wrote an article for Threads magazine about hand-picked zippers that’s worth looking up if you’re interested, that’s what got me started doing them this way.

 

new backstitch 5

 

Because each one is almost a knot in itself, backstitches are really sturdy. The zippers I’ve sewn with them have lasted at least as long as the pants!

 

Pickstitch Drawing 1

 

Backstitches are also useful for securing your thread anywhere you don’t want to have a knot. I often use one or two to secure the beginning or end of a seam, and when I’m burying yarn ends in knitting. In the days when most garments were sewn by hand, it was common to use running stitches with a backstitch thrown in every few stitches for extra strength. (I know that from reading The Mary Frances Sewing Book, which is amazing).

Happy stitching!

 

new backstitch 6

 

 

How to Sew on a Button

And make a thread shank, for a better-working button.

 

sewing on a button 10

 

As promised, complete directions!  Anyone can do this.  All you need is some thread and a sharp needle.  Start with a piece of thread about as long your arm, and put it through the needle so you have a double length.

Start by anchoring your thread.  The conventional way to do this is by tying a knot in the end.  But sometimes a big knot on one side is too conspicuous or would catch on things.  Instead try backstitching.  A backstitch is a stitch that makes the thread loop back on itself, it’s very secure.  On the wrong side, slide the thread between the fabric layers and come up near where you want the button to be.  Pull the needle though, leaving a thread tail at the start.  Take a small backstitch.  Put the needle out nearby, then take another backstitch in the opposite direction.  The thread is ready to go!  Pop the needle up to the right side where you want the button.

 

sewing on a button 1Click on any of the photos to enlarge if you’d like.

 

The next part is pretty much self-explanatory, except for one thing.  Use a spacer to make room for a thread shank underneath the button (ignore this part if your button already has a metal shank on the back—just stitch through that).  This makes room for the fabric (where the buttonhole is) to fit underneath the button.  I often use a toothpick which I keep in my sewing stuff.  You may want a bigger or smaller spacer depending on the thickness of the fabric and how curved the button is.  Just sew over the spacer as you go in and out through the holes of the button.

 

sewing on a button 2

 

sewing on a button 4

 

Go through each part of the button a couple of times.  Pull out the spacer and pull up on the button, see how there’s now extra thread underneath?  Bring the needle up from the bottom under the button.

 

sewing on a button 5

 

sewing on a button 6

 

Wind the thread a few times around the thread bars under the needle—but not too tightly.  If you make this whole thing too tight, the sides of the holes in the button can rub and wear through the thread.  Stab the needle straight through the thread shank a couple of times from different directions.

 

sewing on a button 7

 

Secure the thread either just under the button, or on the back side with a couple more backstitches, then trim the thread tails.

 

sewing on a button 8

 

So the next time a button pops off your shirt, you don’t need to send it off to Mom or stuff it in the back of your drawer, you can fix it yourself!  Feel free to post other button questions, too …