Throughout the 18th century, as well as in the end of the 17th, and beginning of the 19th, men’s shirts were fastened with clever little buttons made of thread. These were simple to make with basic thread that anyone would have around the house. They were also durable through washings, and comfortable enough to have pressed against one’s neck beneath a cravat.
You can buy your thread buttons if you like, but I’m here to show you how to make them yourself! They’re very simple to create. Chances are that once you’ve done it once or twice you’ll be able to knock one out in no time whenever you need it!
What you’ll need:
Heavy linen thread
A pencil, knitting needle, dowel, or other stick with a 1/4″ diameter
Step 1-Tie your thread around the sizing guide
Step 2-Wrap your thread
Step 3-Cut your thread
Step 4-Move the thread ring from the sizing guide to your needle
Step 5-Pull thread through
Step 7-Buttonhole stitch around the ring
Step 6-Create the shank
Step 7-Wrap the shank
You can now make quick and easy thread shirt buttons whenever you need them!
I hope you found this tutorial helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I will answer as best I can.
22 thoughts on “Tutorial: Thread Shirt Buttons”
Wow, this is awesome! May I use this buttons for closings in 18th century womens underwear, like a chemise and such?
Why did I expect them to be so much more difficult? Thank you for sharing, I will definitely make some!
Awesome, thanks for sharing! Finding good HA buttons is difficult and can be expensive for really nice ones, especially if you need a bunch. I like that these can be made to match a garment perfectly, end easily replaced if lost or damaged.
Very cute buttons! Thank you for posting the tutorial. 🙂
Can these also be made from perle cotton? Thanks for such a clear tutorial
Sure! They could theoretically be made in any thick thread. You may need a few more wraps to make sure you have the ring thick enough. Heavy linen would be the most common option for 18th/early 19th century underthings, but that’s no reason why you can’t give other materials a try.
Were they ever used for decoration?
I don’t know any examples of them being used decoratively. As far as I know, they were only used on underthings like shirts, chemises, or petticoats.
Looking at original garments I’ve never seen thread shirt buttons used on a French chemise, English shift nor on a petticoat. This sort of button was used on the collar of 18th century shirts. Eventually by about 1825 shell buttons & bone buttons replaced thread shirt buttons.
Es un bello trabajo. Muchas gracias por compartirlo!
I was looking for a tutorial exacrly like this. Yours is very clear and instructive, I think one cannot go amiss now. I will have a go at my own thread buttons this weekend. Thank you for sharing.
Many thanks for this nice and clear tutorial! It only takes some minutes to make a small button like that, but I had no idea!
Excellent article. Would these be suitable for mass-produced British Army soldiers shirts of the 18thC and indeed for those of the lower orders of society?
Thanks in advance!
Thank you! I would think so, yes. They were commonly used on all sorts of undergarments (shirts, shifts, etc…)
Awesome! Thank you for sharing.
This is wonderful – and so simple. I’m delighted I stumbled over this on pinterest.
Thanks for sharing such nice, clear directions.
Thank you so much for this post! I’m delighted I stumbled over it on pinterest. I suspect I will be making all kinds of buttons using your clear, simple directions.
If you’re making your buttons for historical purpose keep the button to no larger than 1/2”. The button in this tutorial looks slightly too big (roughly 3/4” or so). Also you’ll find them less likely to fold if you wrap them on a tapered point so you can fill in some of the donut hole. A somewhat small center hole is seen on original thread shirt buttons. Then, pull the thread very tight. Pulling tight will make a hard, firm button like originals.
Hi Paul! Not sure what in the photos is making them look that large, the button in this tutorial is about 3/8”-7/16”. They definitely turn out very hard and firm—it’s amazing what just thread can become! Nice tip about the tapered point.