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Shank buttons are buttons that have a small loop on the bottom to help provide an extra bit of space between the button and the garment it is attached to. Depending upon the style of the button, the shank can be made of metal, fabric, or plastic. Unlike an ordinary shankless button, buttons with shanks have no holes in the top. To attach a shank button to your fabric, you simply run your thread through the back of the shank.
Shank buttons are often used to help a garment hang and drape in a more attractive fashion. One common use of buttons with shanks is making high quality winter coats. These garments often have a special shank on the bottom button as well as an additional shankless button used on the underside of the fabric. This provides an extra bit of reinforcement and is useful in preventing the pulling of the thread from damaging or ripping the coat’s delicate fabric.
If you are considering using shank buttons for your sewing project, remember that these buttons tend to be more expensive than flat, or shankless, buttons. In addition, you will want to use button and carpet thread to attach your button. Shank buttons, especially those with metal shanks, require strong thread to remain securely attached to the garment.
In some cases, you may find a button for your project that does not have the required shank. Luckily, it is possible to make your own button shank by using 18 or 20 gauge wire and a pair of needle nose pliers. Wrap the wire one and a half times around the pliers, then bend the first loop straight upward. Glue your handmade shank onto the surface of the button or insert it into a fast-setting back.
Scrapbookers, card makers, and other people interested in paper crafts often incorporate buttons into their projects as well. However, these crafters must use a special sharp cutting tool to remove the button shank so the button embellishment is able to lie flat against the paper. Large craft stores, as well as specialty scrapbooking stores, often sell button shank removers for this purpose.