Woman’s Institute Library of Dressmaking dedicates very little time to what was, at the time of publishing, the MAJOR closing mechanism for garments. WILD was initially published in 1926, the zipper was not widely used in fashion until the late 1930’s, which makes the button important from a 1920’s seamstress perspective. However, the book also specifies that there are only two types of buttons: Those made from vegetable ivory, bone, and various compositions, and those covered with material. She also says there are only three sizes, essentially, small, medium, large. And THOSE days have long past, as buttons now are made from any and every material and are available in a wide range of sizes, from 1/4” diameter to 3” wide monstrosities and all sizes in between, including some smaller and larger than those two sizes!

However, what has NOT changed is the button mechanism itself, meaning three general styles: Two holes, four holes, and shank buttons.

Shank button, four hole button, and two hole button.

Shank button, four hole button, and two hole button.

Beyond the various type of button, the only words of wisdom Mary Brooks Picken has to offer when it comes to actually attaching button to fabric is:

“In sewing self-covered buttons on garments, it will be well to bear in mind that flat buttons are more attractive if sewed close to the garment, instead of being allowed to hang loose. Ball-shaped buttons, however, appear better if they are allowed to hang loose. Sometimes they are allowed to hang from a tiny cord made of buttonhole twist as for the overcast bar, the length of the cord varying according to the position of the button. This cord must be neatly made and of a color to match the garment. In sewing on any type of button, take care not to draw the material with the sewing-stitches.”

However, there is no indication of what “take care not to draw the material with the sewing-stitches” means. However, I do demonstrate in the video how to attach a shank button. But, given the above description, I’m pretty sure I did it wrong. I make a HORRIBLE 1926 tailor.