Sewing on buttons by machine

I hate sewing on buttons. It’s probably my least favourite sewing task. I rarely make anything which needs them so I can usually avoid it. But the other week something possessed me with the urge to make a shirt dress. It didn’t occur to me until the very end that this would mean sewing on lots and lots of fiddly little buttons.

When I got my first sewing machine it had instructions for sewing buttons on by machine. You drop the feed dogs, set the machine on a zero length zig zag, and position the button between the fabric and presser foot so that you sew into the holes. I think I tried this once and couldn’t get the button to sit in the right position under the regular presser foot, which is made of metal and has a smooth flat underside. Almost certainly operator error, but anyway I gave up on the idea of machining buttons onto anything. That would have been about four years ago.

When I bought my backup sewing machine earlier this year it came with this funny little foot which is specifically for sewing on buttons. Faced with the prospect of the shirt dress buttons I gave it a try.

It has an extension at the back that points down and acts like a hinge when the foot is lowered.

The blue stuff at the front is rubbery and has grips on the underside (below). When you lower the foot the front dips down and the front grips hold the button in place. And the groove down the centre is perfect for putting a pin into to sew over to make a shank.

It works really well! It was a bit of a fiddle to position the buttons, but very easy to sew them on once they were lined up. They have survived trips through the washing machine so they must be fairly firmly attached.

So glad I finally figured this out. Especially as I have a second shirt dress in progress!