Hey, everyone! I’m back with more Shirtmaking blog posts. Today: button placement!
Here’s how I like to get the button placement on a shirt just right. You can use the markings on the pattern pieces, but if you often find your shirts gape at the bust, you might want to adjust where the buttons go. Here’s a way to figure out the button placement, starting from the beginning.
First, try on the shirt. Put a pin at the bust line. You want this pin to be where your shirt would gape, if the buttons were placed above and below. It’s the fullest part of your bust and may be different from where the shirt buttons are placed on the pattern.
Also, make sure you are wearing the bra you’ll most likely wear with the shirt. Your bust may sit higher or lower, depending on the bra you have on. I’m not busty and I notice the difference between a padded bra which sits lower, and a soft cup bra which sits higher.
Remove the shirt and ensure the pin is on the right (as opposed to left) side of the shirt. Women’s shirts are worn with the right over the left – because ‘women are always right!’ It’s a little trick for remembering which side overlaps on top. You could choose to put the other side on top if you prefer, but it might feel unnatural to button it up that way.
I know it’s a bit hard to see on this shirt so I pointed to it with the point turner.
Then, use the handy Simflex tool to figure out the rest of the button placement!
I wanted seven buttons, and decided the bust point would be the third down from the top.
Then, I stretched out the Simflex tool to determine where the rest of the buttons go!
You could do the math, too. Divide the space on the button band by the number of buttons, to space them evenly. But if you plan to make a lot of shirts, a tool like this is really useful.
Center the buttonhole over the marking, and sew the buttonholes. This will vary by machine, but I always suggest sewing a few test buttonholes first, and make sure you can poke your button through! And fill your bobbin or at least check that it’s quite full.
When sewing on the buttons, I started with the one on the collar stand. Here’s a detailed guide to sewing on a button.
Then I buttoned it up, and marked the placement of the rest of the buttons. I decided it would be more important to have it line up from the neck down, rather than starting at the bottom or middle.
I poke a pin right through the middle of the buttonhole to mark where to sew each button.
Another look at the same thing:
It is off a little at the hem, but it’s all right with me since the top layer is the longer one.
When sewing the buttons, I ran the thread through beeswax and pressed it between a folded sheet of paper to seal the wax in. I also cut the thread close to the knot before starting, take a stitch through the spot, and insert my needle between the two threads to anchor it to the starting point.
I didn’t take photos of sewing the cuff buttons or pocket flap buttons. The pocket flap buttons are very easy to place, they go exactly underneath the flap buttonhole.
For buttonhole placement on the cuffs, you can either try on the shirt and adjust the overlap to suit you. Or you can line up the cuff edges, folding the cuff flat with the inner cuffs against each other, and poke a pin through the cuff buttonhole. This will give you a more general cuff placement, in case you’re sewing the shirt for someone else.
Some other button & buttonhole tips:
- Turn the last buttonhole sideways. I have a couple of shirts with this detail and while I’m not sure it serves any function, it’s visually interesting!
- Sew the last buttonhole in contrast thread. It’s interesting but could look like a bright mark over your midsection, if you leave the shirt untucked.
- Sew the buttons on with contrasting thread. I did that on a few other shirt projects and it can look neat on an otherwise plain shirt.
- Use Fray-Check to stop your buttonholes from fraying. I apply the Fray-Check, let it dry, and then cut the buttonhole open.
- Sew four-hole buttons either with an ‘X’ or with two straight lines that don’t cross. (I’ve read somewhere that sewing the ‘x’ may not be as strong because the threads cross each other and could rub. However I’ve never had a problem with any buttons I’ve sewn, plus the buttons in the Tailoring book are sewn with X’s and I trust them!)
ps. Check out all posts on shirtmaking here!