The Ultimate Guide to Shank Buttons

Struggling to find information on shank buttons? Here’s everything you need to know. From the different varieties of shank buttons available to how you sew them into place. So whether you’re a clothing designer, a crafter or a garment accessory retailer, check out our ultimate guide to shank buttons.

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In recent seasons, we’ve seen fashion hair accessories come back onto the scene in a major way.

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Silver sewing shank button

Table of Contents

What is a Shank Button?

Shank buttons (also known as shank back buttons) aren’t flat. And they don’t have holes on their surface. Instead shank buttons have a protrusion on the back (a “hidden” hole), through which thread is sewn in order to attach the button onto fabric.

Shank buttons can be made from a number of different materials. And they come with a wide variety of surface designs. These designs are uninterrupted by the sewing holes you’d get with a standard sew through button.

Shank buttons are available in a range of sizes too. Larger buttons are more suited to garments like coats. Whilst cardigans or shirts would require a smaller shank button.

How to Sew a Shank Button

Shank buttons have to be hand sewn onto a garment. And the process is very different to sewing a standard sew through button into place.

Here’s a quick step by step guide to sewing a shank button:

1. Thread your needle and knot the end of the thread.

shank button-6 How to Sew a Sdhank Button

2. Starting on the back of the garment (and in the exact place where you want your button to be) sew a couple of stitches without a button. 

3. Shank buttons that get a lot of use, require a sew through anchor button on the interior of the garment. If you are fixing an anchor button, do this now with a couple of stitches.

4. Then put your shank button in place and pass the thread through it around seven times.

shank button-7 How to Sew a Sdhank Button

5. Wrap your thread around your stitches to secure them. Then create three blanket stitches to make your shank button strong and secure.

shank button-8 How to Sew a Sdhank Button

6. Make a knot and cut off excess thread.

Whilst the process is different, sewing a shanked button is easy once you’ve learnt the basics.

Different Types of Shank Buttons

Shank buttons come in a huge range of sizes, designs and styles. They can obviously be used as a fastening for items of clothing. But they can also be used as decoration on fabric items and jewellery. They can even be used in craft projects.

Whatever you want to use shank buttons for, get some inspiration with these varied styles and designs:

Metal Shank Buttons

Metal shank buttons are made from metal. They are heavier and firmer than metal plated buttons.

Metal Effect Shank Buttons

Gold shank buttons, silver shank buttons, vintage shank buttons and brass shank buttons are all made from ABS plastic. These plastic shank buttons are then plated to create different metallic effects.

shank button-1 Metal Effect Shank Buttons

Pearl Buttons with Shanks

These buttons are made from acrylic plastic and a fine copper shank. You can get half and full pearl varieties. Take a look at more beautiful pearl button with shank designs here.

shank button-4 Pearl Buttons with Shank
shank button-9 Pearl Buttons with Shank

Flat Shank Button

These buttons can be made from acrylic plastic in a wide range of colors. They can also be made with ABS plating to give a metallic effect.

shank button-2 Flat Shank Button
shank button-10 Flat Shank Button

Rhinestone Shank Buttons

Rhinestone shank buttons are made from a metallic button or ABS plating base with an attached crystal or acrylic rhinestone.

Colorful Shank Buttons

Looking for red shank buttons? Or navy blue shank buttons? Colorful shank buttons can be made from nylon or acrylic. 

The original color of a nylon button is black or white but they can be dyed. Acrylic buttons are injected with color, rather than dyed. Acrylic shank buttons tend to have a shinier appearance than nylon shank buttons.

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Acrylic Button
Nylon Button
Black & White Shank Buttons.

Different Button Shanks: Sew Through Buttons vs Shank Buttons

So which is best, sew through buttons or shank buttons? 

Here we compare the two sewing shanks:

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Shank Button
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Sew Through Button (flat buttons)


Sew through buttons have holes in the button blank (the main part of the button). There can be two or four holes, which are used to sew the buttons onto a garment.

Shank buttons have a “hidden” hole protruding from the back of the button.


Sew through buttons are usually made from resin or other types of plastic, like nylon. Holes are drilled into resin buttons after they have been formed. Whilst for nylon buttons, the holes are formed in the mold after injection.


For shank buttons, the shank may be formed in the mold along with the rest of the button. Alternatively, the shank can be created as a separate component that is then attached to the button at a later stage. 


Because the shank button manufacturing process is more complicated than that of sew through buttons, shank buttons are sometimes more expensive. 


Sew through buttons are the kind of button you nearly always see on shirts. Four-hole buttons are the preferred choice for heavier garments.

You’ll find shank buttons in jewellery, craft items and on a wide range of garments including coats, cardigans, sweaters, blouses and shirts. They are much better suited to heavier garments than sew through buttons.

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In terms of design, flat buttons are simple, classic and often unobtrusive.

Shank buttons, on the other hand, come in a variety of different shapes and designs, making them decorative as well as functional items.

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Different types of designer buttons for coats.

Buying Shank Buttons

If you’re planning on buying shank buttons, there are a few things you need to ask yourself first:

  • What are you going to use the shank button for? For fastening or decoration?
  • What materials, sizes, styles and colors are you looking for?
  • What design are you looking for?
  • And do you want to buy shank buttons in bulk?

Then search online to find a specialized and reliable button manufacturer like SUNMEI. We can help you find exactly the right button for your requirements.

Still got questions about buttons? Check out this article on button types if you’d like to learn even more.

Head to our product pages to discover the wide range of button styles available at SUNMEI BUTTON. And, if you’d like to see the real thing, just contact us for shank button samples. We’re always here to help!

Looking for more information? We can help you!

SUNMEI provides a wide range of catalogues and free samples. Get in touch now. We would be happy to help!


SUNMEI is a specialized manufacturer of acrylic rhinestone and button for over 20 years. We provide a wide selections of acrylic rhinestones and buttons. Visit our product page and find out more styles!