Buttons, blouses and bijoux*

One of the often minimalized components of making a garment is the selection of fasteners (ie., buttons).  It’s easy to put so much attention to pattern and fabric, that when it comes to deciding on buttons, it’s “Oh, well, these will do.”  However, the wrong buttons can, quite simply, ruin a blouse, dress, suit, jacket, or coat.  And, the right buttons can add just the perfect accent.  So – how do you know what kind of buttons to choose?  Here are my guidelines:

First, the obvious.  Just as you match pattern to fabric to suit its weight, weave, seasonality, and ambience (how dressy or non-dressy it is), so should you choose buttons accordingly.  This includes texture of the button (rough, smooth, ribbed, etc.), style (fancy, sporty, novelty, etc.), size (usually the more buttons a garment needs, the smaller they should be), and weight (light weight fabric needs more delicate buttons, for example).

Second, I believe color is hugely important.  To select the correct color, I try to visualize the finished garment with different color buttons.  If you do this, your brain will automatically sort out what will work and what won’t work.

Finally, I think about what jewelry* (bijoux is an Archaic French word meaning an elegant jewel!) and/or accessories I will be wearing with a garment, and I take that into consideration when choosing buttons.  This is one reason why those of us who make clothing for ourselves are so fortunate – we can coordinate the look we want from start to finish.

So – I’ll give you a peek at my just completed project, which incorporates these button guidelines.  But first, some background info.  Last July, I traveled to Massachusetts to spend a few fun-filled days with daughter Susanna, who lives in the Pioneer Valley.  We had an agenda (what women do not??), which included two trips to the Brimfield area.  Our first trip was to the Sturbridge Antique Textile and Vintage Clothing Extravaganza.  Susanna wrote about some of our purchases from this excursion on her blog, but here is a picture of a set of 12 black Bakelite buttons which I found at one of the vendors.

My set of 12 Bakelite buttons

Here is a close-up of some of the buttons. Can you see the rounded corners on some of the cubes? This detail makes them more interesting!

I bought them without knowing how or when I would use them, but they definitely had my name on them – and they came home to Pennsylvania with me!  What I would have loved to have also brought home with me was a black and yellow Bakelite bracelet, which caught my eye at another booth later in the day.  I resisted buying it as we had already done our part to support the economy…! What I did not know was that my sneaky daughter quickly purchased this bracelet while I went to the ladies’ room – and she, her husband Jon, and our son Nate surprised me with it for Christmas!  Here it is:

My Christmas surprise!

Here is the bracelet shown next to the buttons: obviously these were meant for each other!

Now fast forward to the completion of this silk blouse:

The finished blouse made from a vintage Vogue pattern, complete with vintage Bakelite buttons

Here is a closer view of the blouse

Yes, I decided those Bakelite buttons would be perfect for it, and here is why:

–  The fabric, both in design and color, makes a statement, so it needs buttons which are not wimpy.  The square-ish shape of the buttons helps them stand up to those demonstrative polka dots without distracting from them.

And an even closer view...

–  Black is the only color I could picture using with this fabric (gold, yellow, white pearl or gray pearl did not visualize well for me…).

–  I thought the French cuffs (which I love) on this pattern would show to more advantage with buttons which have some heft to them.

Here is a close-up of the French cuff

These buttons are just heavy enough for the weight of this fabric, and finally…

–  I knew I would be wearing my Bakelite bracelet with this blouse!

Well – I can’t end this post without showing you the shoulder shapes which I made fromVogue 7503, view F.

Here are the shoulder shapes before I positioned them in the blouse. The crosswise stitching makes them fit over the shoulder beautifully.

They turned out perfectly and are just the right thickness/softness/size for this blouse!

6 Comments

Filed under Bakelite buttons and/or jewelry, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Polka dots, Shoulder shapes (shoulder pads), Vogue pattern 7503 for shoulder shapes, Vogue patterns

6 responses to “Buttons, blouses and bijoux*

  1. Sewing is all about the details – you are right! Those buttons are perfect for your blouse! I like that you didn’t go for a “perfect circle” shaped button.

    Finding the perfect buttons always seems to be the hardest part of my projects – I know exactly what I need but no one seems to make whatever it is in the right size/color/shape. Too many variables!

    You have a wonderful sneaky-gift-buying daughter. =)

    • I thought perfect circle buttons would have been ho-hum, but not so these little cubes! I agree – it’s very difficult to find just the right ones, but I love looking for them.

  2. (p.s. – check your out-bound links. I couldn’t get anything but “page not found” even when I tried to edit them to be what I thought they should be.)

  3. Great post, Mom! I kept up with my sneaky ways and went into your blog to fix your links. (Just emailed you about what I think you’re doing wrong). Also…I would love to see a photo of YOU modeling your garments and how you style them with other things. Polka dots are in right now! Let’s see how you style them. And I KNOW Dad is a good photographer. 🙂 Love you!

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