Selecting & Sewing Buttons For A Blazer – English Handcrafted Buttons By Benson & Clegg

By | 2017-01-05T10:53:45+00:00 Nov 20th, 2014|Categories: Style|Tags: , , , , , |4 Comments

Benson & Clegg Shank Brass Buttons Fox motif in display box

In addition to tailoring, Benson & Clegg has established itself as one of the country’s premier suppliers of brass blazer buttons. Their vast range stocks over 150 varieties that represent some of Britain’s most prestigious military and academic institutions. Moreover, there is a diverse range of historical and decorative designs that also coincide with sports and hobbies from hunting to golf.

Exclusively created in the UK by craftsmen, the manufacture of these buttons follows an authentic tradition of artistry and distinction established in the 18th century. Nine separate hand operations ensure that these finely composed buttons meet the superior tradition of fine English tailoring.

Complete assorted sets of buttons are available in Benson & Clegg’s repertoire that include six jacket buttons as well as eight cuff buttons, which will be ample for either a double-breasted jacket or two single-breasted coats These are beautifully arranged in a distinguished display box making for an ideal Christmas or birthday gift for the discerning gentleman in your life.

Benson & Clegg Brass Buttons Fox motif

Given my tendency to perceive myself as a somewhat sly individual, I could not resist the Fox Mask buttons. Although my choice was based purely on aesthetics, the refined form and subtle matt finish would make an excellent accessory for a riding jacket on the upcoming Boxing Day Hunt following Christmas.

How To Sew On Blazer Buttons

The Benson & Clegg brass buttons come in a traditional shank form meaning that at the base of the button, there is a brass loop through which the thread is sewn. There are several approaches onto sewing brass shank buttons by hand that provide various levels of strength.

An old thrifted club jacket blazer from the 1920s

Coincidentally, I came across an old French tailor-made club jacket from the 1920s. Although it was a beauty, it’s clear to see that it was in need of considerable attention. After some gentle washing with hot soap to remove scuffs and stains, the interior lining was repaired. All that was left was replacing the century-old and worn brass buttons.

old shank button brass on French bespoke club jacket

Oxidised, scuffed and limp, these buttons have seen better days. Out with the old and in with the new. I’ll find a use for them another day.

Sewing buttons with a stay

If the jacket is usually worn with the buttons attached, the use of a stay is the safest method to ensure that the threading doesn’t detach under stress. Given that brass buttons are often heavier and quite precious, this is the recommended method.

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Stay for sewing Brass Buttons

In essence, the process involves sewing two buttons together between a piece of fabric. In turn, the inside button will take the strain rather than the fabric preventing any damage or stress to the jacket.

For the purpose of this guide, I used a larger button to be illustrate the process. However, there are buttons that function specifically as stays and shirt buttons work just as well.

How to sew Shank Benson & Clegg Brass Buttons with stay

A final note before we continue: If possible, seek out waxed and pressed threads for best results. Glazed threads are more likely ensure a strong hold on the button.

Step 1

Begin by inserting a single thread from the inside of the jacket. Loop it once through the brass button (facing the right way up!) onto the where the brass button will be and thread it back to the inside.

Step 2

Back end of stay for Shank Benson & Clegg Brass Buttons

Continue to thread the inside button as you would do regularly. However, every time you thread through to the front of the jacket, loop it through the brass shank. Try to keep it relatively tight so that the brass button is able to stand up on its own. Too loose and the brass button will be too limp on the jacket.

Step 3

Tightening the Brass Benson & Clegg Button

When shank has been sufficiently looped through, consider wrapping the thread around its base to provide strength and help it stand up. Do this enough times to cover the base and it should stand on its own.

Step 4

Once finished, push the needle through the shank of thread created on the inside of the jacket, make a loop, and clip it. You should now have a sturdy brass button standing neatly to attention.

Finished-sewn-Shank-Benson-&-Clegg-Brass-Buttons

Sewing buttons without a stay

Some buttons on the jacket may not need a stay as they will be unlikely done up. For example, doing up the bottom button of a jacket is somewhat considered a sartorial faux pas. Moreover, if the cuff buttons aren’t functioning, they won’t go under any strain and have no need of a stay whatsoever. Although the following steps are longer, it makes for a quicker method for attaching buttons.

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Cuff-Shank-Benson-&-Clegg-Brass-Buttons

Step 1

Make a large knot in a length of thread and insert it between the layers of the suit about an inch away from the button placement. Staying between the layers, guide it out to where you want to place your button. I have used a red thread to make this easier to see.

First knot for invisible Shank Benson & Clegg Brass Buttons

Step 2

Make two or three small knots on this spot using a small space of stitching.

Knotting-Invisible-knot-for-Shank-Benson-&-Clegg-Brass-Buttons

Step 3

Pull on the big knot created at the start that should cause the fabric to bunch.

Bunching-invisible-knot-for-Shank-Benson-&-Clegg-Brass-Buttons

Clip it off and the thread should be hidden by slipping between the layers of the jacket.

Invisible-knot-for-Shank-Benson-&-Clegg-Brass-Buttons

Step 4

Following what you learned in the previous guide, thread the button tightly onto the jacket. Except rather than passing the through all the way through the jacket, try to stay between the layers so no thread is visible on the lining. Don’t forget to loop the shank before finishing to apply that extra strength.

Sewing Shank Buttons

When finished, simply reverse steps 1 to 3 to create a small knot at the base of the button that can then be clipped away between the layers of the jacket.

The Final Result

From dull, oxidised and flopping buttons that had seen better days to gleaming gems standing to attention – it’s amazing what a well-sewn set of buttons can do to compliment and bring life to a jacket.
Club Jacket with Benson & Clegg Brass Blazer Buttons

Metal Button Cleaning & Care

To keep your buttons beautiful, Brasso or any other brass polish is effective. However, be sure to protect your garment as these products can be pretty nasty to fabric. I protect my jacket using a sheet of greaseproof paper with a little slit to slip the button through. Using a cloth with a small amount of polish, I give it a gentle rub down then wipe off with a clean cloth.

Conclusion

Traditionally made by expert craftsmen, Benson & Clegg’s brass buttons are eye-catching accessories to spruce up any coat or jacket. Whether sailing, hunting or golfing, there is a vast collection of buttons to fit various gentlemen’s clubs or societies. Perhaps a perfect Christmas present or a special treat for yourself.

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If you seek something a little simpler, Benson & Clegg also offer a fine selection of hand enamelled buttons that are subtle yet sophisticated. Moreover, ‘Mounted’ buttons are also available where customised crests can be cast and then fixed to the button with rivets.

On a final note, Benson & Clegg’s collection of accessories for your jacket extend beyond brass buttons. Benson & Clegg offer an extensive range of beautifully crafted blazer badges hand-made by artisans from bullion wire, silks and cottons. Coincidently, there’s still work to be done on my club jacket, so expect more soon from Bespoke Unit.

About the Author:

Charles-Philippe is a Franco-Briton who in forgetting where he parked his time machine, settled down somewhere between Paris and Champagne during the early 21st Century. A Brie connoisseur and wine enthusiast with a penchant for all things vintage, you can find him loitering on Instagram when he isn’t writing for Bespoke Unit.

4 Comments

  1. Alethea February 8, 2017 at 5:38 am - Reply

    I want to change some heavy brass buttons on a ceremonial jacket which is double breasted. The buttons that do up are fine, but the decorative buttons thato do not do up flop. Are there any extra tips to make them stand up better?

    • Michael Oxman February 9, 2017 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Alethea.

      The flopping is natural on such jackets, though I understand why you’d prefer to avoid it. My suggestion would be to find buttons with a shorter shank and have your tailor replace them, with the show buttons sewn as tightly as possible. It may not eliminate the flop altogether, but will likely reduce it.

      All the best,
      Michael

  2. Rebecca June 5, 2017 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this – I have just made a decent job of sewing hunt buttons onto a coat for my daughter following your advice. I wondered why there were smalll buttons on the inside where the brass buttons had been removed!

    • Michael Oxman June 6, 2017 at 8:08 am - Reply

      You’re quite welcome, Rebecca! Glad we could be helpful, and thanks for reading.

      Here’s hoping your daughter enjoys that coat!

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