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Machines or Hand Button Holes By Darren Beaman

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Each button hole is a work of art, made with love and care, by some how has the understand of an artisan, fine sewing skills and perfect eyes.

The hand made button hole, is as much as art as Constable or Picasso is. It takes years to understand the silks that make a button hole.

As a working tailor, I put in buttons holes myself, but I make less and less of them. I have two girls and one man that make them for me (and I say big thanks, to them).

Button Twist

Button twist is used to make button holes, there a thousands of colours, but generally most tailors will only use 1 or 2 makes for the simple reason of quality of twist.

Button Gimp

This is used when making button holes. The gimp is placed along the button hole & the button twist is sewn around the gimp giving the button hole a slightly stiffer finish. There are several different grades of gimp.

This is the common button hole it’s called a “key hole button holeâ€.

Picture (a)


The picture above is a machines button hole made on a machine costing 5.500 Euros Picture (a). It still works on the some princeable as a hand made hole. There are two types of button hole that machines can make.

Type one

Please not the finish of the hole. Both left and right meet at the bottom. This is a cheaper version of the two.

The reason this is done this way is, once the machines has finished, you do not need to finish the ends of the button hole (as seen below).

Type two

This is where the button hole, will need to be finished either by machines or hand.

The machine that makes these hole are

Picture (c)

Universal type industrial eyelet buttonhole sewing machine, operator technical experience not required, all functions (cut before or after sewing, without cut, eyelet buttonhole or straight, with taper bar or without, buttonhole lenght regulation) set by means of levers or dials (no cams exchanging). The clutch mechanizm replaced with built-in step motors which guarantee perfect stitch in the highest sewing speed, durability and noise reduction as well as possibility of smooth adjustment of sewing speed. Clamps closing and opening, machine start controlled by foot switch. Thread trimming, sewing speed up to 2.000 stitches/min., buttonhole lenght 14mm-40mm, taper bar lenght 4mm-9mm, stitch lenght 0,5mm-1,5mm, stitch width 2,2mm-3,2mm. Power supply 230V/50 Hz.
For this machine we recomend SCHMETZ needles system 558 or 558 SERV7, with right needle points, depending on the fabric.

Ok the second hole is the lapel hole

Picture (d)

Again you can see that this button hole has been finished

Picture (E)

Again you can see this button hole will need to be finished either by machines or hand.

Below is a Picture of a hand made lapel hole

You will also notice, on the back of the lapel, there is a flower stay (most hand made garment will have this, is to place the stem of the flower thou. Without using a pin.

Here are some Photos of hand made holes

Below you can see a hand made button hole finished off.
To make this hole over 100 Stitches are put in

Ok this is one of my tailors putting in a button hole.
First the button hole is marked (the garment is a DB blazer)

Once the hole is marked it is then cut. On a key hole, use a tool to make the round hole. (see below)

Once the hole is cut, the tailor will start sewing

Once the tailor has finished the hole he can finish the end of the hole. This is the same stitch as a button hole

Ok we made the hole lets sew on the button

All button have what we call a shank, this is the space between the cloth and the bottom (back) of the button.

The reason we have the shank is simple. It will shop pulling on the button when done up, it also sits better then the button is done up.

It should be the same thickness of the forepart. In the photo you can see the space, and in the lower photo you can see the button done up.


Darren Beaman
Savile Row, Master

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