Buttons are made from many materials, and in many sizes and shapes. The cheapest are made of porcelain, which is pressed into moulds and baked.

Vegetable ivory buttons are made from the seeds of the ivory plant. The plant grows on the Isthmus of Panama, and resembles a palm. The fruit is round, from eight to twelve inches in diameter, and weighs about twenty-five pounds. It is composed of six or seven portions, each portion containing from six to nine seeds. These seeds, when ripe, are pure white, free from veins or any dots, and are about two inches in diameter. The substance is so hard that it can be readily turned in the lathe.

The seeds or nuts are sawed into slabs, from which the buttons are turned. The next operation is that of drilling the holes; some buttons are drilled with four holes, others with two holes, while others are not drilled, but have what is called a self-shank.

After being dyed or colored they are finished by polishing and mottling. Horn and bone buttons are made in a similar manner.

A button is a catch of metal or other substance, by which a garment is fastened.


No. 7 and No. 8 needles, No. 36 and No. 50 thread, a pin, a four-holed button, and a folded and basted piece of cotton cloth.

Fig. 46.

Fig. 46. - a, Showing the sewing of a two-holed button, pin in position; b, showing the sewing of a four-holed button, pin in position; c, showing the sewing of a boot-button.

1. Make a pin-hole, where the button is to be placed.

2. Stitch with the fine needle and thread a very small circle around the pin-hole, or a cross at the pin-hole, to keep both sides of the cloth in place.

3. Having the coarse thread double, make a knot.

4. Draw the needle through the pin-hole from the upper side, to conceal the knot under the button.

5. Bring the needle partly through, close to the knot.

6. Place the button on the needle, and draw the needle and thread through.

7. Place the pin across the top of the button (Fig. 46, b), to lengthen the stitches; and take the first stitch across the button, at right angles with the edge of the cloth.

8. Sew securely through and through the holes, making a cross on the button, and two parallel lines on the wrong side of the cloth.

9. Remove the pin, which will loosen the stitches.

10. Inserting the needle from underneath, bring it out between the button and cloth, close to the centre of the button.

11. Wind the thread tightly around the stitches three or four times, to form a neck for the button; thus allowing room for the thickness of the button-hole.

12. Fasten the thread on the under side of the cloth.


In sewing on a two-holed button, the stitches should be taken at right angles with the edge of the cloth (Fig. 46, a), to avoid stretching the end of the button-hole. A button with a loop, as a boot-button, should be sewed with the stitches taken parallel with the edge (Fig. 46, c); this will bring the wear on the loop of the button.

The button-holes should be made first. To mark the places for the buttons, lay the right sides of the garment together, and put pins through the outer ends of the button-holes; taking great care to have the pins exactly opposite the button-holes.

What is a button? What is its use? How should the place for a button be prepared? What kind of thread should be used? How should the needle be inserted? Why? What is placed across the top of the button? How is the button sewed on? How is the neck of the button formed? Why? How should the stitches be taken in sewing on a two-holed button? How on a button with a loop? How are the places for the buttons marked on a garment?