Placing buttons

The other day, on a brutally crowded London train, I spotted something that made the pushing and shoving of peak hour somehow slightly more manageable. Diagonal buttonholes (yes it is true, something so pathetically small can really brighten my day)! Their appearance soothed my awful mood and had me thinking of all things "buttony" (yes, I do believe I just made up a word). 

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Although I haven't had a chance to try them out on one of my projects yet, it did give me the push I needed to get the next installment of my Wrap Dress: How to, up on the blog, to follow on from my two recent posts, which begun explaining how to make this pattern.

The first post went through the adjustments that need to be made to the basic bodice block, to get this pattern started - lowering the armhole and converting the darts to princess panels.

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While the second post was quite a long one covering: adding a button extension to the centre front (or back) and making an all-in-one facing and interfacing pieces.

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If you hadn't already guessed, today's post will detail how to mark the button / buttonhole placement on your patterns.

I tend do this when the garment is already made, as it can be difficult to pick the right buttons before the garment is made. The choice of buttons can really make or break the aesthetic of a piece, and it can be worth taking the garment to the shop and laying a number of different buttons on the piece to see what works best. You may decide on a totally different shape, size or material than you had in mind, or may consider using less or more than you had planned.

This way, you get the perfect button and won't let any go to waste!

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For this dress I was lucky enough to have a few button options lying around at home, so I tested them out at home (I am sorry that the photos are such bad quality! At the time I thought they were just for my reference - as it is handy to photograph the options to help you make the right decision at the end). I also had some little red buttons that I considered using - but they obiously didn't look good at all and didn't warrant a photograph.

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Once you have your perfect button (I went for the grey ones), take the pattern piece in which the buttons will be placed.

This tutorial is for placing buttons on an extension added to the main body of the pattern, but the concept is exactly the same if your pattern requires a placket.

Remember, when it comes to womenswear, the garment is "left over right" (which means the buttonholes are on the left hand side and the buttons on the right. While, for men, it is the opposite).

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Work out the location of your first buttonhole.

It needs to be close to the neckline of your piece (or waist if you are placing buttons on a skirt), but not so close that the button will extend beyond the neckline. I think 1.5cm - 2cm down is a good place to start (depending on the size of your button).

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Mark your first button hole.

As I mentioned in my last post about this dress, I decided to go for horizontal buttonholes as I was copying the features from a vintage dress I have, but placing vertical buttonholes will follow the same method.

To work out the length of your buttonholes, measure the diametre of your button and add the width of the button, plus 3-4mm for "wiggle room." Or you can use the automatic buttonhole function on your sewing machine (if you have one) on a scrap piece of fabric, and measure it (it's always good to have a test run before getting started anyway).

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Before working out the position of your second buttonhole, consider the location of the third buttonhole. The third buttonhole (in the centre front of a shirt or blouse) is a very important button as it lies on the bust, and prevents flashes of parts of the body that most of us like to keep private!

Mark the third buttonhole on the bust line (by referring to your original bodice block and transferring the placement, or holding the pattern up to your body and marking the location).

As an indication, there is 14cm between my first and third buttons on this pattern (UK size 10-ish).

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Now, place the second buttonhole, halfway between the first and third button hole.

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Place the rest of the buttonholes equidistant apart until you get to the bottom of the pattern.

Depending on what kind of pattern you are working on, you can decide where you would like your last button to be. As this pattern is for a dress they need to go to the bottom, but if it was a shirt I would have probably left off the last buttonhole.

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The process is the same if you'd prefer vertical buttonholes.

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Or would like to go really crazy and have diagonal buttonholes.

Go on... Do it.

When it comes to marking the buttonholes onto the fabric, I normally just take a white fabric pencil and a ruler and transfer the positions across to the pattern.

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