Sewing on a Button using a Matchstick

All you need to sew on a button: needle, thread, thimble… and half a matchstick!button1

Even if you pay £2000 for a suit, the sad fact is that buttons do fall off, even the ones sewn on by hand by the best Savile Row tailors.

Now I don’t think for a moment that the ladies and gentlemen who read English Cut are incapable of sewing a button on. But as with everything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Sewing a button on correctly is particularly important with the key button on a coat, the middle waist-fastening button (With Savile Row you only button the middle button; never the top or the bottom).

The secret here is to sew the button on with enough “shank” (the amount of space allowed by the thread, between the button and the coat). Ideally you want a quarter-inch shank. Anything more makes the button droopy, anything less can make the front of your suit look too tight, even downright awful.

Yes, even something as minor as this can create a serious problem.

Obviously the Savile Row tailors will have sewn on thousands of buttons in their time, so getting the right amount of shank is easy for them. But what if you’re a novice?

Here’s a great tip:

Get yourself a standard wooden match, and break it in half. Place it over the top of the button, then thread the button around it, as seen in the following picture.

button2Then once the button is good and sewn, pull the match away… the slack created by where the match used to be will give the thread that extra length needed to get the correct shank. Then finish the job by wrapping the remainder of the thread around the shank, and sewing through. Just like you would normally.

button3

Sewn-on button with quarter-inch shank. Voila!

It’s a simple trick, but it works every time.

Here’s another great tip:

Ideally, you should run the thread through a piece of beeswax before sewing, or use prewaxed thread. First, this waterproofs the thread. Secondly, beeswax acts as a lubricant, allowing the thread to be sewn in more gently. Both help to prolong the the length of time the button will stay on.

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit www.englishcut.com
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