How to sew a button – like a Savile Row tailor

Friday, August 7th 2020
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Dressing well is not just about buying clothes, but about looking after them well, and responsibly. Caring for things so that they last longer, and you need less. 

In the past we’ve covered quite a few aspects about caring for clothes, including pressing trousers, polishing shoes, darning and washing knitwear

Over the next few weeks we will be doing some more, focusing on techniques you can use at home. The first is on sewing buttons. 

Of course, this being Permanent Style, we have done the most in-depth video on sewing buttons you could ever see. It shows how a Savile Row tailor sews on a button, and covers everything from shank lengths to button stands to thread patterns. 

But we also then focus on what you, as a highly engaged menswear consumer, can do at home: which of these tools you need, which steps you really need to replicate. And how to make a quick fix on the go. 

Cutter Ben Clarke demonstrates these techniques, in our pop-up space on Savile Row. I hope you enjoy it. 

 

 

A quick summary of Ben’s points - perhaps for those that have watched the video once, and need a quick reminder - are as follows:

  • Most thread is OK, particularly polyester. You just need to sew through more times if using thinner thread. 
  • Thread your needle, double up the thread, and tie a knot in the end.
  • Do your first stitch on the surface of the cloth. 
  • Then go through the button, come back through, and then push right to the other side of the two layers of cloth.
  • Put your fingers under the button to measure how much excess you need to leave on the top, to create the shank. Perhaps around half to three quarters of an inch. It will get smaller as you sew. 
  • Go up and down through the button and right through the cloth - four times with thicker thread as used by Ben. Perhaps six or eight times with something thinner. 
  • The last time you come up onto the front of the jacket, don’t go through the button, but wrap the thread round and round, to create a shank. As much as needed to make the button stand on its own. 
  • Then finish by passing the needle through the shank - but don’t pull the thread all the way through. Leave a loop, which you hook round the needle on the other side, before then pulling the thread tight. This creates a knot. 
  • Snip off the excess thread, close to the shank. 

If you would like to see some other practical videos we have created on Permanent Style, they include: 

Thank you to Ben Clarke, and to the Campaign for Wool for all their support through these series of videos.

In the video I am wearing my summer jacket from Solito, and a PS Lighter Everyday Denim shirt