How to Replace Shirt Buttons With Cuff Links

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Some cuff links display icons or images.
Some cuff links display icons or images. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Cuff links are a small, refined way to personalize a man's ensemble. A French cuff shirt has two buttonholes and no fixture to hold the wrist cuff together. The wearer inserts cuff links to hold the ends of the cuff in place. A shirt with a traditional cuff has one buttonhole and an attached button at the wrist cuff, and it cannot accommodate cuff links without augmentation. By removing the button and adding a second buttonhole, you can equip a traditional shirt to hold cuff links.

Things You'll Need

  • Dress shirt with a traditional cuff
  • Small scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Dressmaker's chalk
  • Needle
  • 24 inches thread
  • Cuff links

Snip the thread on the cuff button with small, sharp scissors. Use a seam ripper to break the stitching if it is too tight to snip with scissors safely. Remove all of the thread that holds the button.

Turn the cuff so that the half with the buttonhole faces you. Line the ends of the cuff up precisely.

Mark through the buttonhole onto the other end of the cuff with a piece of dressmaker's chalk. Mark the entire length of the buttonhole. You should draw a line about 1/2 inch long. It should cover the spot from which you removed the button.

Cut along the line with scissors. Do not cut more than the line denotes.

Feed a 24-inch piece of thread into the eye of a needle. Move the needle to the center of the thread. Bring the two ends of the thread together. Tie them in a knot to make a 12-inch double-thread.

Place the threaded needle in the snipped opening, between the two fabric layers of the cuff. Position the needle as close to the snipped edge as possible. Run the needle up, through a single layer of fabric. This will hide the knot of the thread between the layers of fabric.

Stitch over the edges of both layers of fabric, through the snipped opening. Run the needle through both layers. Pull the needle through the fabric, positioned immediately next to the spot where the previous stitch began. This is the first buttonhole stitch.

Repeat this stitch all the way around the snipped opening. Look at the original buttonhole as a guide, if necessary.

Run the needle under the first buttonhole stitch after you sew around the entire buttonhole. Pull the thread tight. Insert the needle under the last buttonhole stitch. Pull the thread tight. Trim the thread with scissors to finish the hole.

Press the interior sides of the two buttonholes together.

Insert one half of a cuff link in one buttonhole. Insert the other half of the cuff link in the other buttonhole.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most sewing machines have a buttonhole setting that will seam the entire opening. This is a faster option, if you have access to a sewing machine.

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