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Question for the shirt experts

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I have a friend who just got 3 or 4 new shirts tailored. I saw them when they were new and the MOP buttons seemed to be of a high quality. They were of medium thickness, in a translucent, pearly white and have a deep and beautiful lustre. They had very few speckles of "colour" (for lack of a more precise/technical word) at the back. He had complained though that after about 3 cycles of washing plus ironing, about 70% of the buttons have chipped (I have not seen them after this occurred). He basically throws the shirts in the washing machine, just like anything else. His maid irons the shirts. Can someone (Alex Kabbaz, Shirtmaven or any others) advise on the possible reasons or the most likely reason why most of his buttons are chipping? Do you think it's to do more with the washing process or ironing process? I have many shirts from a few different makers and have MOP buttons ranging from thin to very thick ones but I have only on a number of occasions encountered chipping on them. Thank you
post #2 of 32
MOP is delicate, commercial laundries are harsh.  Simple as that, really. In one of his books, Alan Flusser writes that MOP is stronger than plastic.  For years, I simply took this on faith.  Once, five or so years ago, I was in Carl Goldberg's shop in Manhattan.  We were talking shirts, and I mentioned in passing this nugget from Flusser.  Carl just laughed at me.  So I argued the point with him.  Finally, he said: "Watch this."  He went over to a little compartmented bin where he kept various buttons.  He took one out, held it up, and said, "This is plastic."  He put it down on the counter (or maybe it was a table), picked up a hammer and gave it a tremendous whack.  The button sort of dented and pushed out of shape, but it didn't break.  Then he picked up another button and said, "This is mother of pearl."  Same drill, except this time the button shattered. Lesson learned on my end.
post #3 of 32
Quote:
MOP is delicate, commercial laundries are harsh.  Simple as that, really. In one of his books, Alan Flusser writes that MOP is stronger than plastic.  For years, I simply took this on faith.  Once, five or so years ago, I was in Carl Goldberg's shop in Manhattan.  We were talking shirts, and I mentioned in passing this nugget from Flusser.  Carl just laughed at me.  So I argued the point with him.  Finally, he said: "Watch this."  He went over to a little compartmented bin where he kept various buttons.  He took one out, held it up, and said, "This is plastic."  He put it down on the counter (or maybe it was a table), picked up a hammer and gave it a tremendous whack.  The button sort of dented and pushed out of shape, but it didn't break.  Then he picked up another button and said, "This is mother of pearl."  Same drill, except this time the button shattered. Lesson learned on my end.
Cool story. Thanks for sharing.
post #4 of 32
Yup, Manton head the nail on the head, so to speak. For me, listening to MOP buttons in the dryer is worse than putting finger-nails to a chalkboard. Similar story about the durability of MOP buttons: I was explaining to my GF (don't ask) how to tell a MOP button from a plastic one by doing the "bite test". She summarily proceeded to bite that MOP button in half. Argh. Hahaha, apparently I'm not a great teacher, because even though I lovingly corrected her, upon showing her a new shirt a month later she cracked another doing the same thing...
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
I know that MOP is more brittle than plastic (Lands'End claims their buttons are made from the same material as bowling balls - whatever that mean.). What I would like to know is what caused it to chip? And so many at the same time. Clarification: He is using a domestic washing machine and doesn't use the dryer. He merely finishes the wash with a "normal" spin dry before putting them out to dry.
post #6 of 32
Then it's probably A) the buttons banging against the metal wall of the washiing machine; and B) banging against eachother.
post #7 of 32
I throw most of my dress shirts in the wash (favorites are handwashed, however), and let them hang dry till only slightly damp, at which point I iron them. I do not have a single chipped MOP button that I can remember. I advise this to anyone else who does care about keeping them in good condition.
post #8 of 32
The damage is almost surely from the buttons' banging against the walls of the washing machine during the spin cycle. He could put them on delicate if that would avoid the spin cycle, or (never tried this, but it could easily work) button the shirt up and turn it totally inside out, so that all buttons are inside the fabric. It might require an extra rinse so the plackets don't hold any soap, but it should work okay. Obviously, if you care, a tumble dry session will be pretty bad for them as well.
post #9 of 32
Quote:
I throw most of my dress shirts in the wash (favorites are handwashed, however), and let them hang dry till only slightly damp, at which point I iron them.
Do you get alot of shrinkage that way?
post #10 of 32
Quote:
The damage is almost surely from the buttons' banging against the walls of the washing machine during the spin cycle. He could put them on delicate if that would avoid the spin cycle, or (never tried this, but it could easily work) button the shirt up and turn it totally inside out, so that all buttons are inside the fabric. It might require an extra rinse so the plackets don't hold any soap, but it should work okay. Obviously, if you care, a tumble dry session will be pretty bad for them as well.
really? I figured with all the water soaked into the shirt that it just clung to the sides and didnt bang around. This may just be simply because I can't hear the buttons cracking in the washer, while I can in the dryer FIH, I havent noticed any shrinkage on my dress shirts whatsoever, but the bodies are usually pretty baggy on them so I wouldnt notice if they shrunk a little bit from a wash. Oh, lastly, I have a frontloading washer which may have something to do with it.
post #11 of 32
From what I've read and seen, there is a lot of force imparted on clothes in the spin cycle. I haven't witnessed a MOP breakage because of this, but it sure sets wrinkles in jeans pretty hard. If his friend is only washing them in the washer and not drying them, what else could cause the damage? I'm pretty sure MOP is waterproof...
post #12 of 32
OK...This bothers me... The main Page and the click through shows that the last post was by J on this topic, yet Brian SD holds the last response here.  Besides, i dont like the fact that J can edit without it showing an edit... I vote a Coupe. JJF EDIT: In fact, J's post isnt even counted in the responses (or is it mine for the impending ban? )
post #13 of 32
When I launder my clients shirts in Winter, I dry them in the dryer at the 'no heat' setting unless it is a sunny day - in which case they are hung. I have NEVER seen a button chipped in this manner. HOOOOOWEVER ... I have seen about a gazillion and a half cheap sh.. "pearl" buttons. These are cut from the outermost rim of the shell where the layers (one per year, just like the rings on a tree) are the newest and the thinnest. If you view them from the side, you can actually see the layers. Until these have aged and become a more solid, unified mass, you can break the layers apart with your fingernail or a nail file, just as you would disassemble a piece of mica. An oyster shell is made up of many layers. There is the outer shell which looks like a mottled, crusty mass. The inside of the shell looks like an irridescent pearl. At a very specific point, this inner pearl shell ends and the outer shell begins. The colors you see on the back of cheap (sorry.) pearl buttons indicate that the back is constituted of the outer layer. You don't need Carl's hammer to break off (chip) the outer layer. A feather will do that just as easily. That is why real, good, pearl buttons cost almost a buck each. On the left is shown the inside (pearl side) of the oyster. This one is about 60 years old and measures 9" across. Along the bottom, you can see some of the layers. The center picture shows the back of the shell where you can see the outer layer. You can also see where I have chipped off parts of the outer layer to demonstrate the above thesis to clients over the years. On the right is a side shot. Here you can see that the shell, at its thickest point, is about 1" thick. The thinnest part, around the perimeter, is also the most plentiful. Hence, it offers the cheapest substance that can be called M-O-P. The farther toward the center you travel, the thicker the button. At the 4mm thick point, you are about 2" in. You can see how many fewer really fine shirt buttons can be taken from this much smaller diameter. Now, as to Carl's If I Had A Hammer demonstration ... you can shoot 45 cal. bullets at Lexan acrylic and they won't go through. However, heat it with a simple match ... and it will simply melt. Lexan wasn't designed to stop heat, and pearl buttons weren't meant to protect you from a hammer wielding serial killer. On the other hand, I have dyed some of my M-O-P buttons by glazing them and heating the to 1975 degrees in my clay kiln. In fact, though, Carl is correct. Pearl is nowhere near as shatterproof as some of the modern plastics. That doesn't mean it should chip in a dryer. Take the shirts back or invest in a few of your own buttons.
post #14 of 32
Ha. It used to be that all your edits didn't show, and mine did, but I fixed that. I've considered turning off the ability for you all to edit your posts, actually, sometimes I miss the best drama because I get there too late. BTW, Brian and I replied at EXACTLY the same time, causing a rift in the Space-time-forum continuum which mucked up the reply counter. It has since been fixed.
post #15 of 32
YEAH YEAH YEAH - Turn it off. DO IT DO IT DO IT... That's one vote for thinking before you push the button.
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