DM Buttons in Soho

Attention all UK sewists! Do you love self-fabric buttons but hate making them? Or like me, have you never made them but suspect any attempt to do so might end up in a cloud of swearing fury?

Fear not!

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 09

Ack, should have got my buttonholes done professionally too!

When I had nearly finished my baby dungarees, I got to thinking about buttons. I loved how the lining contrasted with the outer fabric, but felt this didn’t happen as much at the top as at the bottom, so some fabric covered buttons might bring the whole thing together.

But, ugh, the lining fabric was this ridiculously fray-prone brushed cotton fabric and I did not exactly relish the thought of making fabric covered buttons out of it (despite this excellent tutorial from Gertie).

I also really wanted sew-through buttons instead of shank buttons, just for a personal preference. So I got to googling and it turns out that DM Buttons and Buttonholes in Soho does sew through buttons in the size I wanted for just 30p – and they do it by post for an extra £2.

Here’s a bit about the history of DM Buttons, by Carol Alayne at tailoringforwomen.com: “Once upon a time Soho was home to many specialist trades but it’s more than likely that DM Buttons is one of the few survivors, trading out of the same building it was established in nearly 100 years ago… The sole proprietor is David Miller who took over the business from his father, who took over from his great aunt.”

Whipstitch Overmost

I excitedly popped a swatch of fabric (I eyeballed how much and think I was a bit generous) and a cheque in the post. (Then…. I did more research and realised what I really wanted was eyelet buttons, not sew through buttons – as sew through buttons are inappropriate for such a fray-prone fabric, so I emailled DM Buttons and we had a conversation and in the end we decided to go with shanks buttons after all and I’m really happy with them. Because I’d already sent a cheque, David changed my order from four sew-through buttons to five shank buttons, which I think ended up about ten pence in my favour.)

(If I ever really really want eyelet buttons? I found that Harlequin do them by post for £1.20 a pop, as well as a dizzying array of other buttons and custom haberdashery!)

So was it a waste of money to pay someone else to do something I could DIY? No. In the end I paid £3.20 for five buttons, delivered to my door. That compares well with either buying buttons or buying a self-fabric button kit.

DM Buttons

I know there’s only three buttons here – I’d already sewn two on!

 I’m thrilled with how the buttons look and I know they’ll stand up to toddler wear and tear better than if I had made them myself. In future, I’d send any teeny buttons I wanted covered off to DM Buttons and probably attempt to do larger ones myself, if the fabric was right.

Additionally, if I still lived in London I would definitely think about getting them to do my buttonholes for me on any particularly precious items. Just look at how quickly they do them! This would be worth it for me if I had used particularly precious fabric and worked really hard on a garment and didn’t want to risk ruining it on the last step… But more than the convenience and quality of using a specialist button maker like DM Buttons, I am happy to pay a bit extra to use them just because I’m so happy they’re there. Skilled and specialist artisans should be treasured. I know my five buttons won’t be keeping them afloat (Carol’s article suggests it’s mainly the local theatre costume trade that does, along with film, opera and the tailoring trade), but I love that they still do buttons by post for home sewists like me.

How do you decide whether to DIY to support a craftsman? Is there a specialist trader near you that you love giving your money to?

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