We loved the simple lines and single row of upholstered buttons on our new sofa. Little did we know how often those upholstered buttons would catch. Within a few months we ended up with two popped buttons. The cover popped off the first button leaving the metal backing behind. The second button came off completely leaving a string dangling out of the sofa back. I researched how to fix them, but short of taking the sofa to an upholsterer I came up with nothing. I decided to figure it out for myself.
Fixing a Popped Button Cover
I had made my own fabric covered buttons before with kit from the fabric store. I was able to find another kit that worked for the same size buttons as the sofa. I was determined to figure out how to get the button cover back onto the metal backing still on the sofa.
The fabric that was originally on the button cover was trimmed too small to reuse. I always recommend getting a fabric swatch or two when you buy a piece of furniture, but we had found this sofa at the Room & Board outlet. The next time we were at the regular Room & Board we asked for a swatch of the fabric. The back of the swatch said “dyelot may vary”, meaning there may be variations in the fabric color. I held the fabric up to the sofa to check and it was a perfect match.
I used the original button fabric as a guide to cut a square of fabric from the swatch.
Press the small square of fabric into the large white plastic piece, called the button maker. Insert the metal button shell into the fabric and push firmly into the button maker. You have to push it in pretty well with thick upholstery fabric. You can use the blue pusher to help if necessary.
Trim the excess fabric around the edge of the button maker. Normally you would set a metal back on top and then use the blue pusher to press the back into the button maker. But since the back of my button was still on the sofa, I needed another way to press the back into the button maker.
With the fabric and the button shell in the button maker, I held it up to the button back on the sofa. I used a wrench to press the back into the button maker. I moved the wrench around the button maker to evenly press the back.
Voila, the button was restored. The wrench flattened out the curve of the button shell slightly, but it is not noticeable unless you touch the button. I don’t expect anyone to be caressing my sofa buttons.
Fixing a Ripped Off Button
For the other button, which only left behind a dangling white thread, I used a different technique. The button was still in tact. The thread coming out of the button hole was still securely attached to the sofa and long enough to work with.
I slipped the button over the thread.
My husband helped push the sofa back in to give me as much working room as possible. Before he did that I marked the string with my thumb where it came out of the hole. That is where I wanted the button attached.
I tied a knot around the button a little further in then where my thumb marked the string. By tying it a bit closer in, it assured the button would be tight when my husband released the sofa back.
The button will seem loosey goosey at first, but when the sofa back is released the button will be perfect. The thread still hung out the side.
I hesitated to trim the string, in case the button comes off again. Instead, I pulled the button out slightly and used the dull end of a small plastic paint brush to push the thread tail into the button hole.
Within 15 minutes I was able to fix both broken buttons, without involving an upholsterer!