V109: Do You Know the Button Trick?

Don’t you just hate decorative shank buttons that are all dangly and wobbly?  Wouldn’t it be so much better if they were nice and flat and secure on your garment?

Well here’s how to do it!

Once upon a time, shank buttons used for decoration were held onto a garment by a toggle, but these are hard to find these days.  Instead, try holding a row of buttons on with a line of ribbon or tape.  This works particularly well for lines of buttons.  Here’s how…

Some tools

  • An awl
  • Needle and Thread
  • Your snazzy shanked buttons
  • A big upholstery needle
  • Ribbon or tape (I mean twill tape, not sticky tape)
  • Small scissors, if needed

I sewed a mock buttonhole for the placket of my sailor pants, but you don’t have to do this, just mark where you want the button to be attached.

Make the hole with an awl.  It’s important to use an awl because it does not cut the fibers in the fabric, but stretches them instead.  Not such a big deal for a bound buttonhole like this, but if you may someday remove the buttons from the garment, there will be less damage.

Now pass the shank of your button through the hole.

Thread your giant needle with your ribbon choice.

Pass the needle and ribbon through the shank of the button.

For a line of buttons, keep the ribbon in one continuous length, then just lightly stitch it into place.  You want the ribbon to be tight and flat, so the buttons don’t pop out at will.

Now your non-functional buttons will be flat and lovely, and not wobble around, yay!  This trick is particularly useful for Georgian and Regency men’s frock coats, and for decorative buttons on ladies’ garments, such as on this spencer jacket…

The curved, smaller buttons will be sewn on using The Button Trick

Now you know the button trick!


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