Originally designed to withstand the rigors of mining and ranch work, jeans can hold up well to all kinds of wear and tear! But over time, even the sturdiest of jeans can have an accident like a lost or broken button. These pants use a special button, but you can learn how to fix a button on jeans in a few easy steps!
Most jeans feature a tack button with a metal front section and a flat back that attaches to the front with a screw. To replace these buttons, a hammer or a button tool will force the two halves of the button securely together. In some cases, stitching around the button or buttonhole may also be necessary to secure the button.
In this article, you will learn six methods for repairing a button on jeans. You will find some useful hacks to help you in an emergency if you unexpectedly lose the button on your jeans. Finally, you will learn what to do about a damaged jeans buttonhole!
- Can You Replace a Button on Jeans?
- How to Fix a Broken Button on Jeans: 6 Methods
- What Should You Do If Your Button Falls Off Your Jeans?
- Where to Find Replacement Buttons For Jeans
- How to Fix a Jeans Buttonhole
- How To Remove Jeans Button Without Breaking It
Can You Replace a Button on Jeans?
You can replace button jeans by installing a new rivet button or fixing the old broken button in some cases. In most cases, jeans use a special no-sew button called a rivet button.
This kind of fastener does not have the traditional holes or loop for a thread to go through. You don’t use thread to hold it to the garment at all! Instead, it comes in two separate halves. The top half has a rounded face, and the bottom half looks like a tack with a screw for its pointy end.
You use force to push the two halves together on either side of the garment, sealing it in place.
Other names for this kind of fastener include a no-sew, rivet, tack, or bachelor button.
A rivet-style button may sound like a metal snap, but you will find a couple of key differences between the two kinds of fasteners. A rivet button has a cylindrical center that fits through a central hole and is forced to change the shape of the heads on either side. A snap is designed to fit together and then come apart again easily.
Many jeans have small copper rivets at many key stress points like the corners of pockets. These reinforce the sturdy denim and keep the jeans from ripping or wearing out too quickly.
In the 1800s, Levi Strauss and his invention partner Jacob Davis came up with the idea of using rivets in pants. They noticed that blankets made to cover horses used these small metal devices because the cloth was too thick for easy sewing.
They invented the first denim jeans for local miners and used rivets to reinforce the denim! He may not have invented the use of rivets to strengthen cloth, but Strauss was the first to patent using them in clothing. Of course, this eventually launched the famous line of Levi’s jeans!
In WWII, another kind of jeans fastener became popular–the donut button. This kind of button still works with the two separate halves forced together, but it has a round indentation in the front that makes it look like a donut! It feels lighter because it requires slightly less metal, which made it useful during the war years.
How to Fix a Broken Button on Jeans: 6 Methods
You can fix a broken or missing button on jeans by learning how to install a tack button without damaging the denim. The simplest way to do this is to use either a hammer or a special pinching tool to help you force the two halves of the tack button together.
In some cases, you may need to do some hand sewing to repair or strengthen the denim before putting the button back in. A few “jean button hacks” may also give you helpful tips for emergency situations!
However, putting a new button in your jeans is really easy. Professional tailors and seamstresses often only charge $7-$12 for this because it takes so little time!
1. Without Sewing
The simplest method for fixing a button on jeans is to install the tack button according to the instructions on the package. This works if you have a neat, clean hole in the denim where the old button sat. It does not require any sewing!
You can use this technique with a new replacement button if you lost the old one or to reattach the two halves of the old button if it came apart.
To put a no-sew button in your jeans:
- Start with the “tack” half of the replacement button. If you can push the sharp screw end through the jeans from the inside so that the pointy end pokes out where you want the button to go on the outside of the waistband.
- If you cannot force the screw point through the denim, don’t worry! Try using a slightly larger screw and a screwdriver to widen the hole in the denim. Then put the tack through again.
- As a pro tip, you can move the original location of the button to the left or right to make your jeans’ waist tighter or looser as you do this!
- Now place the top half of the button on top of the pointy end of the tack. To seal them together, you need to use a bit of force. If you have very strong hands, you could potentially just squish the two halves together. But you will probably find it easier to tap the rounded face with a hammer or mallet a couple of times!
- If you don’t have a hammer, you can use a rolling pin or even canned food. You just need to deliver a couple of firm taps.
2. With Sewing
You can use sewing to fix a button on jeans in two different ways. First, you can sew in a replacement button. Most jeans use tack buttons because they offer more strength and durability, but there is no reason you cannot find a sew-on button in the same size to use instead! To find the right size, measure the buttonhole and subtract ⅛ of an inch from that measurement.
To sew a regular button onto jeans:
- Find quilting or button thread with greater tensile strength than normal spools of thread. If possible, get a thread that matches the color of the jeans.
- Cut a piece of thread 12” long and use it to thread a needle. Tie a knot at the other end of the thread.
- Push the needle through the waistband where you want the needle to go. Start on the inside and push it through to the outside, leaving the knot on the inside.
- Thread the needle through one of the holes in the button, and then hold it down onto the waistband, pinning it in place with your thumb.
- Now bring the needle back down through another hole. Repeat this motion, leaving neat stitches of thread between the holes in the button.
- Once you have five or six stitches holding the button down, push the needle through one last time to the inside of the waistband, and tie off the thread.
The other way you can use sewing to fix a button on jeans is to hand-stitch around the original location of the button to strengthen it before you put in a new no-sew button. This is a good idea because the old denim could have weakened or ripped.
To reinforce the denim using sewing:
- Find a cotton thread in the same color as your jeans. Cut a piece about 12” long, and tie a knot at one end. Thread the other end into a needle.
- Use a whip stitch to secure the edges of the hole where the old button went. To do this, poke the needle into the jeans about ⅛” from the hole, working from inside the jeans to outside the jeans.
- Next, slide the needle through the hole without making a stitch–just bring it back to the inside of the waistband.
- Put the needle into the denim just to the left of your first stitch, and push it through from inside the waistband to outside the waistband. This will secure a loop of thread over the raw edge of the hole.
- Repeat this motion until you have a thread casing of stitches around the whole edge of the hole.
3. With Hammer
The quickest way to install a new tack button into your jeans is to use a hammer. This is because the screw on the pointy half of this kind of button has to actually drive into the other half of the button to hold the two parts together.
You can do this with other tools or with your hands if you’re really strong! But the quickest method is to use a hammer.
To do this:
- If the old button area looks ragged, start by adding a small iron-on denim patch to the inside of the waistband behind this spot. Simply cut out a tiny square of iron-on denim and use an iron pressed down for 20-30 seconds to seal the patch onto the inside of the waistband.
- Next, push the screw end of the tack through the patch and the waistband where you want the button to go.
- Align the front side of the button over the screw end.
- Tap the front side of the button a couple of times with the hammer, sealing the two halves together.
4. With Button Replacement Tool
Using a button replacement tool gives you the easiest way to insert a button in your jeans. This handy little tool looks like a pair of tweezers with small contact cases on each end. The rounded bowl-like shapes on the end of the pinches hold the two halves of the fastener in place for you, making the process easy as pie!
- Work the screw side of the tack through the jeans from the inside of the waistband to the outside. If you already have a hole from a preexisting button, this should slide through easily! If not, or if you want to move the button to a new location on the waistband, you may need a hammer to help push the sharp side of the tack through.
- Use the tool like tweezers to pinch the face in place over the sharp end of the screw. The easiest way to position the tool is usually with the part you grip over the top edge of the waistband. You may want to hold this in your left hand to leave your right hand free for the hammer.
- While firmly gripping the tool to keep the two halves of the button pinched together, use a hammer or rubber mallet to whack the tool over the outer half of the button. Do this two or three times.
- Let go of the tool, and you should have a firmly attached no-sew button in place!
5. Jean Button Replacement HackIn a pinch, you can use a jean button replacement hack instead of putting in a new button. Jeans buttons have a lot of strength, but in rare cases, one could fall off while you’re away from home. In that instance, try a quick fix like using a twist tie or button pin!
While not an ideal solution, you can use a twist tie or a piece of string to secure your pants if the button falls off.
Simply thread one end of the twist tie through the hole left by the button, and then bring the other end through the buttonhole. Twist the ends of the tie together at the top of the waistband. If you have a nice long shirt to cover the waistband, no one will ever know!
Though this is not an instantaneous fix, you can also buy a hack like a set of button pins. These pins look exactly like jeans buttons and also come in two parts. But instead of smashing them together permanently, they snick together like an earring slotting into an earring backing!
Another benefit of the pins is that they let you place a button at any point along the waistband of your jeans, so you can easily resize the waist to a little bigger or smaller as well!
6. Rivet Button
A rivet button for jeans is another name for a no-sew or tack button. You may also see this referred to as a “bachelor button,” though that name has gone out of fashion in the modern world!
Please note that a rivet button is not the same as an actual rivet. A rivet clamps together from both sides of a piece of fabric, but it lacks the button head to go through a buttonhole. It just strengthens that spot in the garment.
These instructions show you how to install a rivet button in new denim. You could use this process to put a button in a new spot on a waistband or to put a button in a denim project you are sewing!
- Start by making a hole for the tack to go through. You can create a small hole using a nail or an awl if you have one.
- Next, insert the tack side of the button into the hole from inside the waistband. The sharp end with ridges around it should poke out to the outside of the waistband.
- Place that sharp end inside the divot in the half of the button with the fancy face.
- Place the button face-down on a solid surface.
- Use a hammer or mallet to deliver a couple of sharp blows to the back of the tack side of the button.
- Tug lightly on the button face to make sure it connected solidly.
What Should You Do If Your Button Falls Off Your Jeans?
The best thing you can do if your button falls off your jeans is to install a new button!
But if the button falls off your jeans while you’re at work or in public, you can use an emergency hack to temporarily replace it with another object such as a twist tie. You could also buy a button pin to keep your pants together temporarily.
If you see the old button, make sure you grab it! You can easily re-install it in most cases by using a button tool or hammer to reconnect the two halves.
Where to Find Replacement Buttons For Jeans
If you lost the old button on your jeans, you will need to find a new one in the same shape and size to replace it. You can find buttons for jeans in many different places, including craft and sewing stores, or online on Amazon or Etsy.
Most jeans buttons come in a ⅝” size, but you should measure just to make sure. To do this, you can measure the old button or measure the buttonhole in your jeans.
To measure the old button, wrap a piece of ribbon around the widest part and then divide that measurement in half.
To measure the buttonhole, measure the length of the hole and subtract ⅛ of an inch.
How to Fix a Jeans Buttonhole
The best way to fix a buttonhole on jeans is to use a sewing machine with a buttonhole foot to re-sew the edging and secure the hole. If you do not have a sewing machine, you can use a whip-stitch to sew the edging by hand as well. If you need an even simpler hack, try ironing a small square of fusible interfacing over the too-loose side of the hole, sealing it shut!
If the buttonhole has become slightly frayed and loose just at one point, you can easily sew a few small stitches, looping over the loose threads, to seal up the edge and make it smaller again. Just make sure you use a thread that matches the original color in the buttonhole!
How To Remove Jeans Button Without Breaking It
The best way to remove a jeans button without breaking it is to use two pairs of pliers.
- First, get a good grip on the top half of the button with the pliers in your left hand (if you are left-handed, use your right hand for this step).
- Next, use the other pair of pliers in your right hand to pinch the inside section of the button.
- Twist the pliers in your right hand, forcing the “tack” side of the button to unscrew from the top half.
- Keep going until the two halves come apart.
The best way to fix a missing or broken button in your jeans is to replace the button, which you can accomplish easily by installing a tack button using a button tool or a hammer. You can also make this no-sew button stronger by adding an iron-on denim patch to strengthen that area of the waistband. If you know how to sew, you can also use a needle and thread to whipstitch in the hole where the button will go, strengthening the denim before inserting a new button.
For an even easier hack, you can buy button pins online. In an emergency, you can use a piece of thread or a twist tie to secure your jeans! If you lost the button on your jeans, you can buy replacements in the typical ⅝” size from a sewing store or online.
Have you ever lost a jeans button? How did you fix it? Leave a comment below to let us know!