The term button threader can refer to either of two things. The first is used for threading a sewing needle, called a button threader because it has a decorative handle, made from a button. The second type of threader is designed for use by people who are handicapped in some way. This device is used to pull a button through the buttonhole on a shirt, dress or other article of clothing.
To thread a sewing needle more easily, a piece of stiff wire is made into a small loop and is attached to a handle made from a button. The wire is somewhat flexible, and the opening is long and narrow. Thread is put through the hole and then the entire section of wire, including the thread it is holding, is fed through the eye of a needle. Since the wire is stiff it is much easier to get through the needle’s eye than thread alone. It is then simple to grasp the thread and remove the button threader, completing the threading of the needle.
Another type of device commonly referred to as a button threader looks something like the device made to assist in threading a needle, but is much larger. This button threader is made to assist a person who has arthritis or may be missing a limb in buttoning his or her clothing. It will also help someone who has problems with fine motor coordination or has an injury to a hand or arm that makes it difficult to handle buttons.
The button threader used to assist a person in getting dressed has a sturdy wooden or plastic handle large enough to be easily gripped. In some cases it may be covered with a non-slip surface, if the situation requires it. Protruding from one end of the handle is a wire loop about 5 or 6 inches long (12.7 to 15 cm) made of thin, stiff wire. The wire is shaped into an oval, but the end furthest from the handle is pinched so as to be narrower, allowing it to hold the button firmly.
When using the button threader, the wire loop is slipped through the buttonhole from the front and placed over the button. The handle is gently pulled back so that the button is held by the threads in the narrowest part of the wire loop. Once the button is secured, the button threader can be pulled back through the buttonhole, bringing the button with it. The wire loop is then removed to complete the process.