Nonworking Buttonhole


I would be remiss if I did not mention the nonworking buttonhole, another way to substitute buttons on a garment. In my last post I used a fashion illustration from 1950’s era Creators Studio to show the type of garment that might enjoy the ability to change out buttons. I suggested two ways to make this change. First, a metal shank attached to the button and tucked into an underside eyelet. Second, make buttonholes in both sides of the closing bands and bring the buttons (sewn onto a strip of fabric) from the underside through the openings in both bands to close in the front. Here is another Creators Studio illustration of a similar design that might use decorative buttons.


Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1957). Short-sleeved drop-waist crepe dress with roll cuff, cardigan neckline and button placket; tucked bodice and back; hip pocket flaps Retrieved from

A few days after last posting I was leafing through one of my sewing books from the 1960’s and came upon an interesting article about false buttonholes. Designer Anthony Blotta loved the combination of ornate jewel-like buttons on heavier weight silk and tapestry fabric. However the buttons could lose set-in stones or snag the fabric in the buttoning and unbuttoning of the garment. The irregular shape of the buttons might tend to stretch the buttonholes out of shape also. His solution was to make a buttonhole “that was not finished on the underside”. The button was simply sewn into position on the nonworking buttonhole and a covered snap was used to keep the garment closed as if it was buttoned up.

Here is a link to the Anthony Blotta designs of 1949 which shows he was interested in decorative buttons and brocade and textured fabrics such as velvet even then:

I found Anthony Blotta’s tip in Spadea’s A Collection of Sewing Tips by World Famous Designers from 1967. Some of the tips in this book may have appeared in “You’re Sew Right”, a newspaper column written Dale Cavanagh for Spadea Patterns. If you do a search for “You’re Sew Right” you can find a few of those columns at the google newspaper archives. The Brooklyn Public Library only goes up to 1955 and the “You’re Sew Right” column dates to the late 1960’s-1970’s.

Here is a “You’re Sew Right” column from the Reading Eagle, Feb. 4, 1972, about how to make bound buttonholes.,1987599&hl=en

Another great source for the nonworking buttonhole that uses snaps to close was Claire Schaeffer’s 2007 edition of Couture Sewing Techniques, the one with the red suit jacket on the cover. A used copy of this book can be found at amazon for less than a dollar. Her most recent edition of Couture Sewing Techniques, the one with the pink dress, shows an elegantly made thread shank for a button.  A used copy of her newer  book is about 10 dollars. I would definitely recommend one or both books.

Available for viewing on google books are sections of Claire Schaeffer’s first edition of Couture Sewing Techniques, includes a section about pleating:

Of interest also is the book, Jackets, Coats, and Suits from Threads magazine. Two articles to Preview at:

More sewing tips you might enjoy from the University of Florida Digital collections:

And lastly another “You’re Sew right” column about pants fitting and a lovely cross stitch reminder:

“All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today”!,4537480&hl=en

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