Manton, have you ever seen such fraying occur?
Yes. Â Way back when I first started getting custom clothes, I got an odd jacket from an old English tailor. Â He made the sleeve buttonholes the old English way: first two functioning, second two phony. Â When I noticed this, it ticked me off, so I cut them open myself. Â Big mistake. Â I had to take the jacket back to him, he sent it to a re-weaver, and then re-did the buttonholes. Â They still look a little sloppy. Â The tailor thought I was crazy. Â Since then I have always insisted that all four buttons work.
After all, most buttonholes are sewn, then cut open.
We must be talking about different things. Â On a handmade buttonhole, the hole is cut in the cloth, and then the stitching is done, using silk finishing thread. Â First, a blanket stitch is done around the buttonhole to lock in the fraying threads. Â Then a thick cord-like thread (called "gimp") is anchored at the end of the hole (i.e., the opposite end from where the button will go) so that the gimp lies exaclty alongside the edge. Â Then you take silk "buttonhole twist," wax it, and press the wax into the thread. Â Then you use the buttonhole twist to make a series of small knots around the gimp and the buttonhole's edge, all the way around. Â Those knots are the embroidery you see on the top side of a finished buttonhole. Â If you want to see that nice look on both sides, you have to repeat the entire procedure (minus the initial blanket stitch) on the underside. Â In any event, you cannot do this properly unless the hole is cut first. Some tailors, after finishing the buttonholes, then close them with basting thread, using a whip stitch. Â The hole is cut, but the whip stitch keeps it closed. Â You can cut that stitch with no problems. Â In fact, it is meant to be cut before the jacket is worn. What I was talking about was truly fake buttonholes. Â No hole has ever been cut in the cloth. Â Buttonhole twist has been stitched directly into the cloth to make it look like a buttonhole is there, but there is no hole. Â The buttonhole twist is therefore not protecting the edges of the hole, because there are no edges, because there is no hole.