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Buttons are an important finishing touch not only in their more practical sense as fasteners, but also as adornments and essential parts of the garment design. Gone are the days when buttons simply closed the front or back openings and cuffs of a garment. Today you will see them perching on shoulders, outlining seams, closing skirts and pants, fastening waistbands, attaching belts, ending sleeve vents. They can match, contrast, or complement; give a tailored, casual, or dressy look.
Think of the many different ways you can use them to close a garment-with buttonholes, loops, frogs, or a short chain between two buttons. You might care to group your buttons in clusters, space them irregularly, or use a row of small ones instead of a few larger ones.
However you use buttons, remember that they must relate to the fabric, the design of the garment, and especially to the wearer. Spacing and proportion are the keys to expert selection and placement. For example, a petite figure calls for many small buttons, or a few larger ones. It is best to remain with the button size recommended by the designer. If you prefer to experiment, the best way to find the correct size for your button is to pin on different sizes and see how they look before stitching your buttonholes. Refer to the button chart on page 175 to determine correct button sizes.
If you've lengthened or shortened your garment, you may need to adjust the number of buttons and the buttonhole placement accordingly. Be sure that there are buttons located at all points of stress. Place a button at the waist of a fitted jacket or coat to prevent gapping unless you have a belt. If you are using a belt or sash, place your buttons sufficiently above and below the belt so they won't interfere. It is also wise to have a button at the fullest part of the bustline for a large-bosorned figure. If your garment still gaps between buttons, close these spaces with covered snaps.
The time it takes to see that your buttons are placed correctly is well spent, for it ensures that your garment will close in a straight line and lie flat. Pin the garment closed, matching center basting lines. For a horizontal buttonhole, push a pin through the end of the buttonhole near the finished edge of the garment. The center of the button should be sewn at this point and directly on the center front or center back line. Vertical buttonholes have the buttons placed Vs" (3 rnm) below the top of the buttonhole and on the center front or center back line. Place each button directly in line with the button above.
THREAD. To sew on the button, use a double strand of polyester or cotton thread, heavy duty thread, or buttonhole twist. For buttons on heavier weight coats and jackets, button and carpet thread may be used. Drawing your thread through beeswax will prevent knots from forming in the thread while you sew. For easy handling, your thread should not be much longer than 18" (46 em). Secure your thread with a couple of small backstitches on the right side under the button, rather than with a knot, for a neater application.
SEW-THROUGH BUTTONS: These should have a thread shank to allow the buttoned fabric to lie smoothly and not pull around the buttons. The length of the shank should equal the thickness of the garment at the buttonhole plus I/s" (3 mm) for movement. Always begin sewing on the right side. Place a pin, matchstick, toothpick, or other object over the button and sew over the object when sewing on the button. Remove the object, raise the button to the top of the stitches, and wind the thread tightly under the button to form the thread shank. Backstitch several times into the shank for a secure finish. Buttons used for trim will not need a shank (1).
REINFORCED BUTTONS: For coats and suits, reinforced buttons are advisable. Place a small flat button on the back of the garment under the larger button. Sew directly through f rorn one to the other for added stability. Use a small folded square of ribbon seam binding in place of the reinforcement button for delicate fabrics. Place it inside the garment directly beneath the holes where it cannot be seen when worn (2).
SHANK BUTTONS: Attach the button with small stitches sewn through the shank. If your garment fabric is very thick and bulky, a thread shank must be made as with the sew- through button. Remember that the direction of the shank should always be aligned with that of the buttonhole (3). To make your shank buttons detachable, insert them through eyelets and secure with toggles (4). Stud buttons are simply inserted through eyelets.
LINK BUTTONS: Link buttons are most commonly used with cuffs, but may also be used to close vests or capes. You may use either purchased or covered buttons. Run heavy thread through two buttons, leaving the thread long enough to form the link and to pass through the joined garment edges. Work over the thread with a blanket stitch (see page 324). Fasten thread securely (5). Buttons can also be sewn to the ends of a narrow turned fabric strip (6).
On to Buttonholes
| © Ragnar Torfason|
2006 March 28