Anonymous asked: With the Britex Horn buttons on ur Club Monaco trench did u go with the 1" or the 1 1/8"? Have the same coat and was thinking about switching up the buttons myself first time I'll attempt to sew anything hopefully I wont mess it up too bad. Great blog by the way!
I believe I got these in the 1” size, along with a smaller button on back vent. And as far as “messing it up” goes, this is pretty far down the list of “risky at-home alterations” - I’m sure you’ll be fine. Here’s my guide in case you missed it. Have fun!
terrytaipei asked: Hi there, Love your posts! Say, do you know any good sites for ordering horn buttons? Thanks!
Britex has an online store with lots of good options. I have used them before, although never through their website. My experiences with them have always been positive. If you’d like more options, check out this Styleforum thread on the same topic. I have not tried any of those companies but they might be worth looking at. Have fun!
Extreme Makeover: Button Edition (or How to Change your Buttons)
Like I said yesterday, button-upgrading is a great way to improve the look and feel of a garment on the cheap. This Club Monaco trench coat is a great piece, but the black plastic buttons were just screaming to be replaced. Although you can get a tailor to do the change for you, the process is not that complex and will save you even more money (along with teaching you a timeless skill).
The method I use here is similar to The Art of Manliness’ great guide on button repair. It essentially comes down to this (lots of photos - beware):
1. Remove the boring old button and threads carefully (be sure to not damage the fabric behind the button).
2. Thread a needle with 2-3 feet of matching thread (or not, if you want the contrast). Double it over and tie a knot on the bottom (the easiest way to do this is to wrap the double thread ends around your pointer finger and twist it off with your thumb - it sounds weird but works like a charm).
3. Make a small “X” stitch to mark the location of your future button. Reuse the old holes if you can. If you’re changing more than one button I recommend starting in the most hidden place on the garment while you get the hang of it. Also, if you’re using a button back (like I am here) this is the time to attach it so that you don’t have to deal with two loose buttons.
4a. Decide if you will be stitching with a “X” or “II” pattern (I use the first) and begin sewing. I find it easiest to do all stitches in one direction and then switch to the other. I used 4 stitches in each direction for these large buttons but 3 should be plenty for a smaller one, and perhaps even less if the button is not strained during use (like cuff buttons).
4b. Stitch over a second needle to give yourself some slack for later and to hold things in place.
5. Come up through the fabric but bring the thread out the side instead of moving through a button hole. Remove the temporary needle and wrap the thread around the base of the button 6-10 times. This helps secure the button as well as raise it off the fabric for buttoning ease.
6. Thread back through to the base and tie it off however you see fit. I usually thread under the existing loops and then loop through the remaining slack.
7. Repeat until you’ve changed all of the buttons. Marvel at your own handiwork. A lot of people pay big bucks for things like hand-stitched horn buttons and you just did it yourself. Nice job.
In my experience, one of the best ways to make a mass-produced piece of clothing a bit more luxurious and enjoyable is to replace plastic machine-sewed buttons with high-quality, hand sewn ones. There are many places to find great horn, mother-of-pearl, leather and metal buttons: thrifting and ebay are always good options and there many online stores with wide selections. If you’re in the San Francisco area, though, I highly recommend stopping by Britex Fabrics.
A few months ago I purchased a Club Monaco single-breasted trench coat on deep discount. I have already gotten good use out of it but I knew that the large plastic buttons were keeping the trench from reaching its full potential. On a rainy day last weekend I stopped by the famous fabric store to peruse the button selection. The beautiful shop has four floors stocked with fabrics of every kind, but the selection of natural and vintage buttons is truly something to behold. A wide variety of colors and sizes are available, and the cost is quite reasonable (they are just buttons, after all).
Replacing all of the buttons on a blazer or jacket will set you back around $15-$25 (or less if you thrift them) and the change will be dramatic. Natural buttons have a delightful weight to them, as well as having a wonderful richness to their color and a much more “real” feeling (because they are). It’s a simple and inexpensive alteration that makes a garment much more pleasurable to wear.
I left with a small handful of ruddy amber colored buttons and will be swapping them out on my own soon (a skill all men should probably have). I’ll post the process tomorrow but in the meantime consider upgrading one of your favorite pieces with this small change - you’ll be glad you did.
Britex also has a web store that can be found here.