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Making my own working sleeve button

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was looking at my suits, and some of them do not have working button hole. I was thinking to myself that I may be able to do working button hole if I had book that will teach me how. Of course, I will have to practice on some wool fabric .. Do you guys think if is horrible idea? Is there any book that will teach me how to make button holes?
post #2 of 12
you can get a tailor to do it for a few bucks....
post #3 of 12
Horrible is the nicest word for it. Buttonholes are extremely hard to properly pull off, and almost perfect looking buttonholes are the work of an expert. I would recommend that you find a skilled tailor and let him / her do their job, otherwise you stand an almost 100% chance of ruining an otherwise perfectly good jacket. Jon.
post #4 of 12
Horrible is the nicest word for it. Buttonholes are extremely hard to properly pull off, and almost perfect looking buttonholes are the work of an expert. I would recommend that you find a skilled tailor and let him / her do their job, otherwise you stand an almost 100% chance of ruing an otherwise perfectly good jacket. Jon.
So NEGATIVE Jon... What could go wrong... A hole puncher, some reinforcements (the kind used on kids looseleafs, I understand they have colors nowadays...) ...VIOLA. Um...Yeah...Maybe you better leave it to a professional. JJF
post #5 of 12
You just touched on a subject of special interest to me. I love handmade buttonholes, and have always taken an interest in how my various tailors did them. There is a huge amount of variation, especially between the minimalist Italian buttonholes of a summerweight Kiton, and the industrial-strength hawser-sewn buttonholes of a Savile Row tweed suit. About two years ago decided I was going to learn how to make them. Found a book, took the sleeve of an old wool flannel shirt, and started practicing. Counting all the various thread types I experimented with, I made 33 practice buttonholes on that sleeve over the next three months. Embroidery thread, silk thread, cotton "buttonhole" thread, gimp, doubled, not doubled, keyholed, and non-keyholed. I also searched a variety of Ebay auctions and printed out close-ups of Brioni, Dege & Skinner, and Oxxford buttonholes. Finally, I did a lapel buttonhole for real (it took an hour). I proudly took it to my tailor, who pronounced it totally unacceptable, and showed me how he did his buttonholes-- beautifully, with everyday thread, without gimp, with a fanned keyhole and a flawless ridge, in about 5 minutes. After that I tried another 5 or 6 practice buttonholes, then did another real lapel buttonhole, which my tailor offered to "repair" when I showed it to him. I did one more, whereupon my tailor suggested that if I didn't stop defacing my clothes he was going to stop working for me. Now, on those occasions when I get the itch, I don't show him the result. They still take me about 30 minutes each, and they look, well, okay, albeit unquestionably handmade. One additional caution: you can't undo an unsatisfactory buttonhole and start again. The process of unraveling a tight buttonhole causes considerable fabric trauma. You only get one shot. Take it from me: good buttonholes are the final skill of a journeyman tailor, and are not an easy skill to acquire. If you want to learn, there are any number of online resources (do a Google image search under "buttonhole") but be prepared to practice a lot before you start stitching up your first real suit. As an alternative, I might suggest that if you're looking to give RTW suits an aura of bespoke, learn to topstitch the lapels and edges-- it's a pretty simple skill to learn, and much more apparent to the casual viewer.
post #6 of 12
Props to you, Armscye, for at least trying to do it yourself. I've come to prefer the buttonholes on Italian suits - no, not the keyhole style found on Brioni, Borrelli or Kiton, but the kind I've tried to illustrate in the picture below, #2. #1 is my rendition of the traditional Brit buttonhole, which I do not find very different from the kind made by Brioni, Borrelli or Kiton. Oxxford, I think, should use thinner thread for its buttonholes.
post #7 of 12
#2 looks very much like what is found on Neapolitan clothing. Alas, the sleeve buttonholes are what really concern me more than the 1-3 buttonholes used to close the jacket up. Jon.
post #8 of 12
Yes, the subtle Italian ones are very nice. To anyone who wants to try making buttonholes, here's a very brief primer: 1. Cut a 3/4 inch slit in an old piece of wool doubled over. 2. Prepare a small, sharp needle with a doubled length of fine strong polyester or silk thread, knotted at the end. You'll need about three feet, so make the thread six feet long. 3. Start on the opposite side of the fabric, push the needle through to the near side, pull through to anchor the knot on the far side. Squeeze the the two layers of fabric so they remain aligned. 4. Start sewing "loops" along the slit, with the needle about 1/16 inch in from the slit. But each time you make a loop, duck the needle through the loop before it closes, so you're making a lock stitch. Make sure the knot formed by this process ends up filling the slit, rather than sitting up on top of the fabric. 5. Make the stitches very fine and consistent, about 20 per inch. 6. At one end of the slit, wrap the stitches around so they fan out, at the same time using more tension to pull the buttonhole open slightly. This leaves space for the button to rest. 7. When you've gone all the way around, make a bartack at the beginning. 8. All this sounds easy, but your first twenty tries will look like a mouse gnawed at them. Tries 21-30 will look like a good buttonhole began to become unraveled. Try 31 may look acceptable, in dim light. And so on.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advise armscye, Well .. there goes my Brioni then .. The store messed up my Brioni's sleeve buttons. I was hoping that I could fix it but I may bring it to other tailor for 2nd opinion. For those suits with non working buttonholes that I own, I want them to have a Brioni's lapel buttonholes on their sleeves. They look so nice.. I personally do not like key-holes .. Just how many stitching involved making one buttonhole on sleeves by a hand?
post #10 of 12
Weird coincidence...I just learned how to sew buttons, and was thinking of giving button holes a shot. I guess I should start practicing. armscye, I really enjoyed reading your post.
post #11 of 12
Let's not forget about the angular, crude attempts at making a keyhole buttonhole. You would think that the tailors who make these would figure out that all it takes to cut a neat circle at the end is a cheap tool, and that they need not bother using scissors for this.
post #12 of 12
Ummm, please don't cut holes in your sleeves.. I don't even know of any tailors or seamstresses that I would trust to sew me a buttonhole. So I wouldn't make buttonholes your first sewing project.
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