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Replacing Buttons and Other Military Vintage Maintenance

Clothing is something that can tend to define a person. Your style is part of what makes you, you. Thus, when you find an article of clothing that really defines you as a person, such as a unique vintage coat or pair of shoes two things tend to happen. The first is that you’ll probably wear it more often than other articles of clothing. But, because it is worn more than it would be if it wasn’t otherwise a favorite, it might tend to wear out faster than average. Fortunately military vintage clothing tends to be incredibly durable, and will last much longer than an equivalent piece from a department store. But, even military issue or similarly durable clothing will eventually get worn.

Wear on clothing often adds character, but some damage, such as buttons that fall off, are both unacceptable flaws, and easily fixable.

To replace a button on a shirt or jacket, you’ll need a replacement button, suitably colored thread, a needle, and a little patience and know-how. For replacement buttons, if you are lucky, you’ll have the button that fell off. If not, dress shirts and some jackets usually have replacement buttons. These are sewn onto the bottom of the front center placket, below the point that would ordinarily be tucked into pants. If an exact match button cannot be found, it might be possible to take a button from a part of the shirt or jacket where the button will be less visible.

Thread has a bit of variation available. You should use about two feet or so, since the thread will be doubled over. Color-wise, there are two ways to go. On the one hand, it might be a good idea to aim for a dark color, or a color similar to that of the cloth or button. On the other hand, a bright or contrasting color can give an interesting effect.

Begin by creating an “X” where the button will be. This will ensure that the added stress of being pulled on by the button does not rip the fabric anchoring it in place. Next place the button on top of the “X” and pass the thread through the fabric and one of the holes in the button. At this point, place a spacer on top of the button, so that the button will have room to fit in the button hole without pulling too much on the fabric.

Pass the thread through the fabric and button, looping over the top of the spacer each time. After creating a sufficiently strong connection, create the shank. This is done by passing the thread through the fabric, but not the button, and then winding it around the threads that connect the two. Next, pass the thread back through the fabric, and tie it off on the back side.