I’m nearing completion of a sportcoat made out of a somewhat unusual piece of cashmere from Johnstons of Elgin, so I am beginning to think about buttonhole thread.

A check of this nature is sometimes challenging when the buttonholes sit on different area of colour; the normal practice of matching one colour of buttonhole thread might go out the window in favor of matching whatever stripe the buttonhole happens to sit on. I am even reminded of one garment in the YSL couture exhibit on which the finisher had even changed thread mid-buttonhole because the buttonhole straddled two areas of great contrast (yellow and black, IIRC).

The best way to know what will look best is to plan the buttonhole placement to find out where they will sit on the check, and then do a few test buttonholes on a scrap of cloth using different shades of twist. Fortunately I have that stash of vintage twist so I have a number of colours to choose from.

10 Replies to “Decisions

  1. I remember seeing the YSL garment buttonhole you described, or something like it, in Claire Shaeffer's book on couture sewing.

    Keep us posted! 🙂

  2. Have you considered picking the buttons and using a twist that matches the color of the button? Buttonhole will look like an extension from the button. Button placement will fall on different parts of the pattern on the lapel than the front or on the sleeves. Quality buttonhole twist is getting harder to buy in the US and finding good colors even more so.


  3. There is a tailor in Germany who does "chequered" buttonholes (two threads), a technique he teaches on conventions (which I did not attend). 🙁

    A+ for pattern matching, BTW. I had a hard time spotting the flap, even in the larger image.

  4. Hi Jeff, how do you get the sleeves with such a nice shape? If I remember you once posted on sleeve/cutting shaping but I cant find the post. Is the sleeve your own draft? thanks

  5. @Karen- I've done a contrast once before and didn't like it. And the plaid is loud enough that the other details should be subdued, I think.

    @Despos- Not a bad idea at all- I may try that. Once I find buttons…

    @Detlef- Chequered? Curious…

    @Brendan- the sleeve is, of course, my own draft. The most important element to the shape (other than the shape of the seams, of course) is getting a good stretch in the top sleeve inseam.

    @Anonymous- I agree.

  6. Jeffery,

    who am I to support Chris Despos… nevertheless, I would also suggest a subdued but contrasting buttonhole thread picking up the colour. This is the manner in which most of my English coats' buttonholes are made and I find it the most inconspicuous way of doing them. Matching the colour of each buttonhole to the colour of the underlying or surrounding cloth borders on mannerism in my humble view – a bit like overly colour-coordinated combinations of tie, pocket square, socks, etc.


  7. Jeffery, I don't have a proper instruction on how to make those buttonholes, just a poor picture in a Rundschau edition. I myself have no clue how it's done.

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