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How to sew your shirts

Have you ripped your favourite shirt or lost a button? Find out how to sew a shirt by hand in just a few simple steps!



If you wear a shirt on a daily basis, you’ll know that even the finest fabrics, tailored by experts, eventually reach a point where they require a little TLC. This quick guide will cover the basics of shirt repair, showing you how to stitch, how to sew a button, and how to sew a shirt by hand. If you’re lucky enough to have a sewing machine, then you can skip the finer needlework details and focus on the later steps instead!

If a button comes off, keep it in a safe place until you have time to reattach it. If the button escapes, don’t panic – many shirts have a spare button embroidered into the inside label.

How to Sew a Button

Arguably the most useful skill in shirt repair, this is also one of the easiest. To learn how to sew a button, follow these steps:

  • Select your thread. Obviously, if possible, choose a colour that matches the shirt. Cut a 30cm length.

  • Wet the end of the thread, and pass it through the eye of a needle. Tie a double knot, and pass the needle through the shirt so that the knot is on the inside.

  • Pass the needle through the hole in the button, then back through an opposite hole. Pull tight but not enough to break the thread to ensure the button isn’t loose. Repeat until the thread has passed through each hole.

  • Cut the thread, and tie another double knot (again on the inside of the shirt).

How to Sew a Shirt Collar

If your shirt has ripped at the seam, and you need to know how to sew a shirt collar or a sleeve, don’t fret – this can be easily rectified using a simple backstitch.

  • Repeat the needle preparation steps from above, then mark a straight line using a light pencil and a ruler to ensure the seam is perfectly straight.

  • Push the needle into shirt where you want to join the two pieces of fabric.

  • Bring the needle back through both layers of fabric just in front of the previous stitch for the most durable backstitch.

  • Push the needle back into the fabric between where the needle came in and out of the fabric to create the first stitch. This stitch should resemble a machine-sewn stitch and is designed to be visible on the outside of a shirt.


Take extra care when using sharp objects like scissors or needles. Always store your sewing supplies in a safe place, out of reach of children.

How to Sew a Rip

Until your favourite shirt has a rip or tear, the chances are that you probably won’t have considered how to sew a hole with a needle and thread. The good news is that a rip doesn’t have to consign a good shirt to the dustbin. Just follow these tips on how to sew a shirt by hand:

  • Follow the needlework preparation from the how to sew a button section.

  • Turn the shirt inside out, then sew a backstitch as described above.

Obviously, larger rips can be more problematic – it might be worth considering a patch (if the design allows) or, if all else fails, ‘redesign’ the shirt entirely – if the rip is on the sleeve, for example, it might be possible to turn the garment into a short-sleeved shirt.

A lost button or ripped seam doesn’t mean the end for your favourite shirt. With these easy to follow hints and tips on how to sew a shirt, quality shirts can be restored to their former glory with a needle, some thread, and a little effort!

Originally published