July 19, 2005
(All you need to sew on a button- needle, thread, thimble... and half a matchstick.)
Even if you pay £2000 for a suit, the sad fact is that buttons do fall off, even the ones sewn on by hand by the best Savile Row tailors.
Now I don't think for a moment that the ladies and gentlemen who read English Cut are incapable of sewing a button on. But as with everything in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Sewing a button on correctly is particularly important with the key button on a coat, the middle waist-fastening button (With Savile Row you only button the middle button; never the top or the bottom).
The secret here is to sew the button on with enough "shank" (the amount of space allowed by the thread, between the button and the coat). Ideally you want a quarter-inch shank. Anything more makes the button droopy, anything less can make the front of your suit look too tight, even downright awful.
Yes, even something as minor as this can create a serious problem.
Obviously the Savile Row tailors will have sewn on thousands of buttons in their time, so getting the right amount of shank is easy for them. But what if you're a novice?
Here's a great tip:
Get yourself a standard wooden match, and break it in half. Place it over the top of the button, then thread the button around it, as seen in the following picture.
Then once the button is good and sewn, pull the match away... the slack created by where the match used to be will give the thread that extra length needed to get the correct shank. Then finish the job by wrapping the remainder of the thread around the shank, and sewing through. Just like you would normally.
(Sewn-on button with quarter-inch shank. Voila! You learn something new every day,)
It's a simple trick, but it works every time.
PS : Ideally, you should run the thread through a piece of beeswax before sewing, or use prewaxed thread.
First, this waterproofs the thread. Secondly, beeswax acts as a lubricant, allowing the thread to be sewn in more gently. Both help to prolong the the length of time the button will stay on.
Posted by tom at July 19, 2005 12:08 PM
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