No tweed jacket or cardigan is complete without beautiful matching buttons. We at Linton Tweeds regularly get asked by our customers where they can find beautiful buttons to complement their garments. When we asked couture sewing guru, Claire Shaeffer for her thoughts, she came up with a wonderful guide to making one’s very own tweed buttons.
This attractive button was used on a 1960s Chanel suit in my couture collection. There is a red Chanel suit at the V&A with the same buttons. It does take some time to make them, but the results are stunning!
There are several advantages for making them: You can buy quality buttons in a smaller size. They will match your fabric exactly. Last, but not least, there is the joy of receiving complements on your handcrafted buttons.
Buttons with a shank 1 cm (3/8”) to 1.5 cm (5/8”)
Plastic or metal curtain ring large enough for the button to fit inside the ring easily.
Fabric scraps—if the fabric is too bulky, you can use the lining fabric.
1. Select buttons that will be attractive on the fabric. Generally, I prefer gold tone buttons, but pewter or silver tones are sometimes more attractive on the fabric.
Hint: When selecting buttons, pin them to the fabric so you can look at them vertically—the way they will be worn. Yes, it makes a difference.
2. For each button, cut a circle of fabric slightly less than three times the diameter of the plastic ring. My button was 1cm (3/8”) and the plastic ring was 2.5cm (1”). I cut each circle with a diameter of 7cm (2 ¾”).
3. Place a row of short basting stitches about 1cm (3/8”) from the edge of the circle. The primary purpose of these stitches is to hold the fabric edges on the wrong side while you sew from the top side.
4. Pull up the basting stitches a small amount and place the ring on the wrong side of the fabric.
5. Pull up the basting stitches more, but not taut.
Hint: When working with some fabrics, it is often easier to manipulate and ease out some of the fullness when the fabric is wet.
6. Smooth the fabric over the ring. Use matching thread to sew short backstitches just inside the ring. Work carefully to keep the center flat while creating a ridge over the ring.
7. Sew a second row of backstitches so the fabric is held snugly in place on the ring.
The back side will really be a mess with lots of extra fabric!
8. Use very sharp scissors to trim away the excess fabric on the wrong side. If you have sewn the backstitches securely, you can trim close to the backstitches.
9. Use an awl or knitting needle to make a hole at the center of the covered ring.
10. Insert the button shank into the hole so the shank fits snugly. Turn the button and ring wrong side up.
11. Pull the button shank to the underside as much as possible so the button fits snugly inside the ring; then sew it securely.
12. If the trimmed edges are not flat, sew over them until they are. I use my stitches to flatten the trimmed edges as much as possible.
13. Voila! The button is finished.
14. If you want to cover the raw edges on the back, use a small circle of lining fabric or synthetic suede.