Buttons are much more than functional fasteners. They are important finishing touches to the clothes you sew.

Some pointers on selecting and placing buttons

When a single button closes a jacket, coat or vest, choose an interesting one that can assume the stature of a piece of jewelry. It should measure 3/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter.

For a blouse or shirt, use several buttons, measuring 1/2- 3/4 inches. Traditionally they are placed singly, but take artistic license – try clustering two or three small buttons.

The top button is usually just below the neckline edge, and the lower button is about 4 inches from the bottom edge. This can vary, of course, with the length and fullness of the garment.

If you’ve altered the pattern and need to re-space buttonholes on a garment front, begin with one positioned at the bustline. Go up and down from there, with equal spacing, about 3 1/2 inches apart.

Button color need not match the fabric. A blend is sufficient, or try a contrast in color and texture. Some garments look good with different colored buttons.

Match button weight to garment fabric. Use heavy buttons only on firm fabrics.

Button size can be varied from what is suggested, as long as it suits the fabric and garment style.

How to sew buttons: To hand-sew a button in place, thread a needle with strong thread and double it. Begin with a few quick passes with the needle to lock the thread ends, then pass through the button several times to secure it. Don’t pull tightly. To prevent knotting, run thread through beeswax to strengthen it.

Buttons with metal shanks are easy to sew. With other buttons, you may want to make thread shanks to make them easier to close. Place a toothpick under the button before passing the thread through it, and sew several loops. Remove the toothpick. Bring the thread to the right side of the fabric and wind it around the loops tightly, forming a shank.

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