So, raise your hand if one of the reasons you’ve been afraid to make your first pair of jeans is because of installing rivets and buttons. I hear ya – after the fly, I thought this was going to be the scariest part of making my jeans. But to my surprise, it was actually super simple! You can do it with some basic tools. And as long as you practice a couple times first (make sure to get a few extra rivets and buttons!), you’ll have no problem installing these little details.
We’ve created an easy to follow video to show you how to install jeans buttons and rivets, but if you prefer photographed instructions we’ve got those too below the video.
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
For the button, you’ll need a scrap piece of wood or a wood cutting board.
For the rivets, you’ll need a scrap piece of metal (steel or iron), the back of a frying pan, or a small anvil.
For both the button and anvil you’ll need an awl or something to poke holes through denim (like a nail), metal/wire cutters, and a hammer.
There are some other ways to install rivets, and I’ll go over them quickly at the end of this post. But first I’ll go through the basic installation, without needing any extra equipment. Ready? Because here we go!
If you have more than one button, make sure you practice on scrap denim before installing your final button on your garment.
Zip up your jeans and make sure everything is overlapping correctly. Using a pencil or chalk pencil, place it through the buttonhole all the way to the very left, making a mark on the inner waistband.
Note: You want to be all the way to the left of the buttonhole, not in the centre, because that’s where your button will want to sit.
You’ll notice that the marking will about line up with the zipper most likely.
Using an awl or other sharp tool (like a nail and hammer), poke a hole through the marking.
Get your woodblock/cutting board and hammer ready!
Place the back tack piece through the hole, from the back towards the front side. You’ll notice that this tack is different to a rivet post and looks like a small screw.
Place the button on top and hold it in place.
Turn it over so that the button is face down on the wood, making sure that you still hold it together and that its staying lined up straight.
Holding the fabric taught and keeping the button and tack straight, give the back of the tack a few light taps to connect the two pieces. and Then a few god heavy whacks to secure it. Make sure your hammering is in a straight downwards motion and not at an angle.
Tadaaaaaaaa – button!
For the rivets, you’ll need all the same tools as the button, but also some metal cutters and a piece of metal (steel or iron). You could use a frying pan, a scrap of metal, or a small anvil like shown above. They’re only a few dollars and come in handy if you plan on making many pairs of jeans and installing lots of rivets!
Oh yes, and you’ll need the rivets, too. Up to nine depending where you want to put them. How many you choose to install, and where, is up to you! I’ll show you the common spots to put them at the end here.
Just like with the button, you’ll want to practice on a few layers of scrap denim before trying it on your final piece.
Use your awl or sharp tool to poke a hole where the rivet will go. Most rivets will go in between the parallel lines of topstitching, so make sure it’s centred right in the middle so you don’t break any of the stitches.
From the inside, push the tack backing through the whole towards the outside.
Now, the post of the tack might be a little too long. You want there to be only about 1-2 mm sticking out from the fabric. So if there is more than that, and you are using a solid rivet post then use some metal/wire cutters to take a little off the tip.
If you are using a hollow rivet post you won’t need to trim it back at all, as these collapse into the rivet burr more easily.
Put the rivet top on the post. Holding it in place, place the rivet face down on your metal surface.
Holding the fabric taught and making sure the post and rivet stay straight, give the back of the post a few taps with the hammer to hold it in place. Then hammer with a few good straight, pending motions to secure it well.
Here’s where I placed mine: One at the corner of the coin pocket and one at the lower end of the pocket.
And of course the other pocket too.
I didn’t place them here, but another common place to add rivets is the top edge of the pockets too!
And on both corners of both back pockets.
Check out some of your favourite pairs of jeans to get some ideas and decide where you want to place your rivets!
OTHER WAYS TO INSTALL RIVETS
There are a few tools you can buy to install rivets if you don’t want to use the hammer method.
Prym pliers – a handheld plier tool that’s meant specifically for installing rivets, snaps, eyelets, etc.
Industrial press (we have a Kam snap press) – this tool comes in a handheld version or a tabletop version and is usually used for installing snaps, but with the right parts, you can use it to install rivets too. I have one of these for snaps, and the part that the snaps sit on is plastic. If you make sure this part is metal and not plastic (if yours doesn’t already have metal dies, you can buy the replacements separate), then you should have no problem making it work with rivets too.
LOOKING FOR MORE ASH AND DAWN POSTS?
Here is the full list of Dawn and Ash jeans posts:
- Where to buy jeans making supplies
- How to adjust rise
- How to lengthen or shorten the inseam
- How to sew flat felled seams
- Fly front
- How to sew a button fly
- How to sew an exposed button fly
- Front pockets
- How to finish pocket bags with french seams
- Back pockets, yoke, and back seam
- Inseam and side seams
- Belt loops and waistband
- Buttonhole and hem
- How to install rivets and jeans buttons (this post!)
- How to distress denim
- Tips for embroidering jeans
We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNdawn or #MNash and @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media, and check out what everyone else is up to!