Fabric stores have racks of beautiful buttons, and unusual buttons can be found in antique stores and even your own button box. Only one button is required to make a button and loop closure, so this is an affordable way to dress up a tote bag. Show your fancy side by using an antique rhinestone button from an old evening suit, or highlight your hobby with a shaped button such as a dog, car or boat.
Measure the width of the button. Cut a length of 1/4-inch cord twice as long as the button is wide, plus two inches.
Fold the cord in half and connect the ends by zigzag stitching across both cords 1/2-inch from the cut edges. This forms the loop for your closure.
Center the loop on the inside of the back of the tote bag with the loop up and the stitching 1/2-inch below the top edge.
Sew the loop in place by hand with thread that matches the bag by bringing the needle up through the stitching on the loop at one end of the seam and back through the seam and the fabric of the bag. Make a small stitch, bringing the needle back up through the fabric and the seam on the loop. Sew all the way across the seam. Unless the top edge of the bag has very heavy interfacing you will have to sew through all the layers of fabric and your stitches will be visible on the outside of the bag.
Tug gently on the loop to be sure it is secure. If it moves, sew back across the zigzag seam again.
Fold the loop over the top edge of the front side of the bag and mark the center of the opening with a pin. Sew the button on at this point.
Things You'll Need
- Shank button
- 1/4-inch-wide cord, 1/8 yard
- Sewing machine
Add a thread shank to your button if you wish to use a button without a shank. Make the shank 1/8-inch longer than your cord is wide. Make a string from the same fabric as the bag and use it for your cord.
If the shank on your button is less than 1/4-inch long, use thinner cord, or add a 1/4-inch thread shank to your button.
Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.