Pop Quiz #472 pt.2

Returning to pop quiz 472 referring to button stand size, I was pleased with the offered comments. I don’t remember now why I thought to even pose the question; I just remember being horribly embarrassed when the 1″ rule I was taught was ridiculed at my first place of employment.

Based on some of the responses, I’m thinking I should have first explained the definition of button “stand” because I think many people confuse button stand as meaning the same thing as placket width (such as that seen on men’s dress shirts). The reason they are not the same thing is because not every button closure has a placket but all button closures -even non-functional ones- have a stand. Technically, the stand lies from the line to be joined (often CF or CB) to the finished edge. On a man’s dress shirt, the stand line runs halfway (vertically) through the placket width. The stand does not refer to the total space occupied by the button -which a placket will plus an allowance. The width of button stand does not include the half of the button that lies on the opposing side of that dividing line to the finished edge.

Stand size is usually dependent on button size. Usually. Being that I’m generally quarrelsome and like trick questions, I was hoping someone would mention “If the button stand is being used as a design feature…it can be almost any width.” which Pamela did. Pamela, by the way, is probably the most knowledgeable shirt making person on the web. The comment she left provides examples of when the button stand wouldn’t necessarily be related to absolute button size. Another example of when this does not apply is in standardized products, again like men’s shirts. In these cases, it’s best to follow the standard. We are accustomed to the prevailing application. It would fall oddly on the eyes if you used a larger button on standard dress shirt placket widths. The placket widths by the way, are usually standardized. You can buy folders that sew these in set sizes in one fell swoop. Nifty.

Kaaren also brought up interesting points because when I wrote the question, I was thinking strictly about vertically applied button holes. With vertical button holes, the holes are applied exactly on the dividing line of usually CF or CB -the join line. With horizontal holes, that’s not the case. Usually, with horizontal ones, one side of the hole crosses the CF/CB or join line by a scant amount -toward the outer edge. In lighter goods that may only be a 1/16th. Heavier goods would be an 1/8″ but again as Kaaren mentions, this amount is dependent on button size and profile. A domed button without a shank, is going to take up more goods at closure meaning the hole should probably be placed extending an 1/8th over the join line. Again, this refers to horizontal holes. There’s no such difficulty with vertical holes, this being but another reason why these are used more often. Speaking of, the reason it’s more common to see vertical button holes is that there’s more allowance for the button to ride in. If a button is mistakenly applied slightly above or below the midway point of the button hole, the closure isn’t going to buckle over a misaligned button placement.With horizontal button holes, you must have the button and hole aligned exactly or the button above and below will alternatively gape or be too taut. A misaligned horizontal hole will make the other two buttons (above and below it) look bad. If you goof on a vertical placement, it’s rarely noticeable. The button will just sit higher or lower in the hole but few will notice unless the button hole thread is a deliberate contrasting thread color.

The answer
The official answer for most applications (barring design features etc), the stand should be the same size as the button. If your button is 1″, the stand should be 1″. Once applied, half the button lies to either side of the CF/CB join line. With a one inch button, this means there will be 1/2″ fabric showing from the button edge to the finished edge.

Speaking of, another point Kaaren brought up was “width should have a minimum of 1/4 inch on either end of the button hole.” In other words, between the end of the button hole and the finished edge, there should be at least 1/4″ worth of goods. So, even if you’re using really tiny buttons, the minimum of 1/4″ is precedent. The reason for that is two fold. One, the structural integrity of the finished edge is compromised if it’s any less than that. Second, anything less -the finished edge being structurally compromised- could curl up cupping the underside of the button if the garment is too tight.

Shannon brings up a point about thicker fabrics. I’ve made a lot of coats. In thicker goods, the stand made need to be slightly wider than the button otherwise it looks cheap. There’s a highly scientific way of determining whether this is the case. We align a button along a folded edge of fabric to see if it “looks good”. In any case, the most I’ve ever had to increase a stand’s width over button size is an 1/8th.

Lastly, if you’re confused or ever in doubt, you can do as Sarah suggests and allow “1/2″ between the button edge and the edge of the garment front”.

And this is probably more than you’ve ever cared to know about button hole placement…

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  1. jan says:

    Actually, I have given lots of thought to this question and I am very glad to learn the science involved. I prefer (generally) a horizontal button hole and I almost always prefer buttons to a zipper as a matter of aesthetics (my own, of course). Thanks.

  2. Thanks for this; it’s about as much as I wanted to know after seeing the quiz. For the record, I always thought of it in terms of a design feature but having recently come across plackets that are barely wider than the button (i.e. stand is half the button width), mainly on t-shirt-y cardigan things but also on a nasty georgette blouse. All have had binds on the front edges no wider than 3/8″ through which the buttonholes are made. The georgette was the nastiest, with buckling and gaping.

    Anyway, thanks again (as I retreat to reconsider my shirts with 3/4″ plackets because I liked the width…)

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