When I was an eager young 8-year-old (or there abouts) I took sewing 4-H from my friend's mother. I started with a pillow and pot holders and eventually made a skirt with gathers, stretch pants and a shirt with a collar and buttons. It was very impressive.
During these classes I learned how to sew on a button with flair (or something like that). It involves wrapping the thread between the button and the fabric. It is hard to explain, but I just happened on a great tutorial on The Purl Bee. You should check it out.