An Appeal to Tailor’s Trimmings Suppliers

by Chikashi

Horn buttons

I have noticed a certain change in horn buttons being supplied the last couple of years, and it is not a good change. It is actually rather annoying, and I would be happy and relieved if it changed for the better.

This post was prompted by horn buttons supplied by Richard James Weldon, the trimmings suppliers to most, if not all, London tailors, but it is addressed to all tailor’s trimmings suppliers anywhere in the world.

Horn buttons on garments made up in the last couple of years have a habit of falling off. Yes, they had been sewn on by hand, not by machine. The problem is the edges of the holes drilled into the button are too sharp; they have not been smoothed out. Consequently, wearing the garment (particularly coats and overcoats), fastening and unfastening the buttons will quickly lead to the button thread being severed by the sharp edges. Until I figured out what the problem was, I had to keep sewing the buttons back on. Sewing on buttons is one of the few things I know how to do with a needle and a thimble, so it is not a monumental setback. However, it gets old very quickly, particularly when I am abroad on a day-trip with no access to a sewing kit or the time to do some sewing in-between appointments.

Now, whenever a button falls off, I smooth out the edges of the holes using a thin, cylindrical file before sewing it back on. I probably should use a linen thread instead in order to do a proper job smoothing them out, but the file is just more expedient for an amateur like me.

It may be argued that the tailors should smooth out the edges of the holes before using the buttons. Perhaps. However, I think it would make more sense if the people who make the buttons do a complete job rather than supplying what are essentially semi-finished products. If it doubles the cost price, then so be it.

I believe that I am being reasonable. Buttons on older garments never fall off. It would be a shame to have yet another reason to say, ‘it ain’t what it used to be’, wouldn’t it?

So, to all tailor’s trimmings suppliers, please source and supply fully finished horn buttons. Thank you.