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How to install double sided upholstery buttons

Updated February 21, 2017

Sometimes cushions are attached to cane-backed chairs with pairs of buttons, one on each side of the chair back. One button is sewn on the cushion on the front and one on the cane on the back. Usually five or more pairs of buttons are used. Two buttons increase the wear on the threads that hold the buttons in place, so installing new double-sided upholstery buttons is a common repair.

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  1. Thread the needle with 30 inches of upholstery thread and knot the ends of the thread together.

  2. Cut a tiny square of heavy fabric. The squares should be small enough to be hidden under the button.

  3. Run the needle through the centre of one of the squares. Pull the fabric square down to the knot on the thread. This square will keep the knot from pulling through the cushion and reinforce the original hole in the fabric.

  4. Thread the needle through the front of the cushion where the button fell off. Pull it all the way through the cushion, until the fabric square is against the cushion.

  5. Run the needle through the same hole in the chair back that the thread went through before.

  6. Run the needle through the shank on the back button. Sometimes the buttons are the same on the front and back. Sometimes they are different.

  7. Run the needle back through the hold in the chair back and back through the cushion and fabric square.

  8. Run the needle through the shank on the front button and back through the fabric square, the cushion, the hole in the chair back and the back button. Pull the thread up, but do not pull it tightly. Let the button hang loosely so that you will be able to get the needle behind it for the next stitch.

  9. Run the needle back through the hole in the back, the cushion, fabric square and the front button. Again, pull the thread only until the button hangs loosely.

  10. Run the needle through fabric square, the cushion and the hole. This time, pull the thread so that the buttons are pulled tightly together. You may have to wiggle the buttons to ease the thread through.

  11. Knot the thread behind the button on the back and cut off the excess thread.

  12. Tip

    If you are repairing a cushion with buttons on each side, place a small square of fabric behind both buttons.


    Some buttons have a wire screw that holds the two buttons together. If the wire is broken, you will have to replace the buttons with shank buttons. If you can find a replacement shank button back in the correct size for your button, you may be able to use it to convert your button to a shank button.

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Things You'll Need

  • Upholstery needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • Scissors
  • Heavy fabric

About the Author

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.

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