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by Elena Tran
July 21, 2020
The haute couture techniques of sewing buttons involves forming a rigid shank which keeps the button away from the fabric. The button should lie flat on top of the buttonhole without puckering or looking loose. Before you attach the buttons, you need to finish all buttonholes and mark the location of the buttons with a tracing thread.
Step 1. Mark the location of the buttons with pins.
Lay the garment on a flat cutting table and align the buttonholes and the thread tracing for the buttons. Push the pins through each buttonhole to mark the position of the button.
Step 2. Secure the thread.
Use double strand of thread without making a knot at the end and keep the loop free on one end. Make a tiny stitch at the first button marking on the inside of the garment, but don’t pull the thread all the way through. Pull the needle through the loop to secure the thread. Bring the needle through the fabric to the face side of the garment ready to receive the button.
Step 3. Begin forming the shank.
Thread the button on the needle and hold it a distance away from the fabric. That distance depends on the thickness of the buttonhole. Space shouldn’t be too big or the button will hang from the buttonhole, and it shouldn’t be too short, or the fabric will pucker around the button because it will be too tight. To create the space between the button and the fabric, use your fingers and adjust for thicker fabrics.
Step 4. Finish forming a rigid shank.
Continue sewing the button through the layers of fabric. Once you have a good thickness of thread, begin forming a rigid shank. To do that, pull the thread from under the button and make blanket stitches around the length of thread pulling each stitch tight together. If effect, you are stacking these stitches on top of each other to make the shank quite rigid. Test if the button keeps away from the fabric. If it’s falling right back on the fabric, you need to make the blanket stitches tighter together.
Step 5. Make a knot.
Pull the needle back through the fabric to the inside and make a dressmaker’s knot:
Make a loop and push the needle through the loop. Keep the loop and the end of the thread taut.
Place your thumb on the base of the loop to keep the thread tight and pull the thread through. Make sure there is no tail between the knot and the fabric. Practice makes perfect. This knot is more secure than simply tying the knot.
Alternatively, you can secure the thread by making a few very small stitches through the fabric as you do in embroidery.
Finally, pull the needle through between the layers of fabric on the inside of the garment to conceal the thread. If you don’t do that, the tails of the thread will hang like whiskers on the inside of the garment. It’s not a big deal, but your goal is perfection, so hide any hanging threads if you can. Cut the threads off so they are not visible.
Why should I make a mockup or toile when I have a pattern? Isn’t it overkill? This concern comes up often so I think it’s important to clarify the importance of making a mockup, or a test run of your garment, also known as the toile or muslin.
Your mockup should be a shell of your garment that you can actually try on complete with zipper, collar, pockets, sleeves and any relevant pieces of detail, such as marked or drawn placements of your buttons and buttonholes, and even a rough drawing of applique, embroidery or beadwork.