I will mention that a button popping off is an effective method to ensure the brace tabs are not damaged when braces are under significant strain. It is better to have a popped button than to have a damaged brace tab. Brace tabs are very difficult to repair, whereas a button can be easily sewn on.
If you are currently wearing braces and a button pops off or you wish to start wearing braces, you should know how to sew on brace buttons. It is relatively simple to sew on buttons.
This post is your step-by-step guide to sewing on a button for braces.
Supplies for sewing on brace buttons:
- 6 cone-shaped buttons (2 for each brace tab)
- Desired color of thread that matches the color of your pants or inside waistband lining and good quality strength
- Sewing needle
- Chalk is helpful, but not necessary
- Pair of scissors
- Pants or skirt intended to wear with braces
|Supplies for sewing on a brace button|
Type of buttons
When selecting a shape for your braces, look for a cone-shaped button. This allows the brace tab to pull the button rather than cause the button thread to cut into the brace tab. You should also look for buttons with 4 holes rather than 2 to provide additional strength. Many tailors suggest that any button is suitable, and while it is true, it won't serve you well when the pressure is on to keep your pants up!
Suspender buttons should be between 1/2" and 5/8" in size to fit in the brace tab. They should be stylish but functional. If the buttons are going to be placed on the outside of your pants, you can be more creative in the design, but keep it tasteful.
These types of buttons are aptly called 'Suspender Buttons’ at your local sewing store, or you can pick up them up online.
Sewing on a Button
1. Determine button placement
This is the critical step. In fact, there's a full post dedicated to this topic. Essentially, the buttons on the front should be located on a main pleat and then 3-4 inches towards the side. The rear buttons should generally be placed 1.25-1.5 inches on either side of the back center seam. The distance will depend on the distance of your brace tabs and your personal preference. Use the chalk to mark the placement.
You can purchase a pair of suspenders with brace tabs with clips on the ends to experiment with the positioning (see below):
Alternatively, you can temporarily hold the brace tabs to the pants with pins to experiment with the placement.
In my case, the popped button is the front, inner button. The button will be sewn in line with the main pleat. It lines up with the pocket line to keep the pant lines taut.
2. Choose whether to sew buttons on the interior or exterior
When every man wore braces in the 19th century and early 20th century, the buttons were located on the outside of the waistband and covered by a vest. As men came back from World War 1, vests started disappearing, which lead to brace buttons moving to the inside of the pants or disappearing altogether. Nowadays, it’s acceptable to place brace buttons on either the interior or exterior - your preference! You may choose to place the buttons on the exterior to display fancy buttons and your personality, or keep them inside and be more reserved. The choice is yours whether to place buttons on the interior or exterior.
In my case, as all the other buttons were sewn on the inside, this button will also be sewn on the inside of the waistline.
3. Sew the first thread
Brace buttons should not lie directly flush on the waistline; there should be a small space allowed by the thread between the button and the pants. This is called the “shank”. Once you’ve inserted the thread into the eye of the needle, insert the needle into the button placement marked by the chalk.
- Interior buttons: Make sure that the thread goes through the waistband materials and the lining, but not so far as the exterior of the waistband. This may take some practice. If the thread is only sewn to the waistband and not the inner lining, you will have a roll-over effect and the waistline will pull up but leave the pants hanging. If the thread is sewn through the exterior waistband, it will be visible and look unprofessional. It may be simpler to start with exterior buttons.
- Exterior buttons: the thread can go through completely as the thread marks will be hidden on the interior of the waistband.
4. Knot the thread
Once the needle is inserted, pull the needle through, leaving about 5 inches from the end. Tie a knot with the thread to hold it in place.
Here’s a photo of the knot.
5. Weave the thread
Weave the thread through the button hole, and then back to the waistline, through the button hole in line (not diagonal). The thread should form two parallel lines on the button, rather than an X. This will minimize the friction on the thread during wearing and reduce the changes of the button popping off.
I recommend weaving the tread 3-4 times through each button hole to attach to the waistline. There should be 4 button holds, so this would be 6-8 loops between the button and the material on the waistline.
Here’s a photo of the woven thread.
6. Terminate the thread and complete the shank
Once you complete the weaves through each button hole, finish by having the tread and needle come out of the waistline (not the button). Take the thread and circle around the button 7-8 times. Take the needle and insert it directly into the thread you just circled, leaving a 2 inch loop. Once the needle is through the thread, re-insert the needle through the loop and pull tightly. You can then cut off any excess thread.
Here’s a photo of the completed shank.
7. Repeat for remaining buttons
Repeat steps 3-6 for the other 5 buttons.
In my case, I only have 1 button to reattach.
8. Button on the braces
Once the buttons on in place, fit the brace tabs on to the buttons. You are set to enjoy wearing braces!
I’ve reattached the brace tab to the button. My pants are now be fully supported by the braces.
The view from the exterior.
If you are more of a visual learner, here’s a short video that describes the process above. The person on the video sewed the buttons 2" apart, but I would recommend the buttons be 3.5-4" apart, to balance out supporting the pants and to spread out the brace tabs as they naturally fall.
Should the belt loops be removed?
Yes. Pants should never be worn with both braces and a belt, so why keep the belt loops? You shouldn’t switch between a belt or braces on the same pair of pants. Additionally, the empty belt loops look out of place when wearing braces. They are not needed and add clutter to the waistband. Cut them off or ask a tailor to remove them.
I started sewing on brace buttons onto my pants when I realized that it was too expensive to get a tailor to do it. And most tailors did not know where to put them, how to sew them in without ruining the waistband, and did poor workmanship. So I learned by trial and error.
I learned how to sew buttons into dress pants after many years. I would only wear button-on braces with dress pants. Then one day I remember wearing a pair of jeans with a belt. The bottom cuffs were dragging on the ground and fraying. I started wearing suspenders with the jeans but they didn’t seem to support the pants correctly; the 4 connection points didn’t feel comfortable. One day as I reached for the jeans next to dress pants, it dawned on me that I could sew buttons into my jeans to see if that improved the comfort. I sewed on 6 buttons to the inside of the waistband of the jeans and put on a casual pair of braces. The instant I strapped on the braces onto my shoulders it felt right. The jeans were supported on the front crease and side seam, and at the rear. The jeans were a higher rise, and to be worn at the natural waist line. The jeans were made for braces, but I never knew! I’ve been wearing braces with this pair of jeans since then and enjoying the comfort.
- Have you sewn on brace buttons or do you go to a tailor?
- Any helpful tips you’ve discovered when sewing on brace buttons?