2-in-1 Sewalong: the Shirt Dress Buttonhole Placement

You might be wondering why I’m doing a post on buttonhole placement and that’s totally fine. This is a tip I picked up awhile ago and I’ve been dying to share it. Few people realize that buttonhole placement counteracts gaposis. Actually if you’ve ever made anything that buttons down your front, and you’re a girl – because let’s face it, guys don’t have breasts – then you know about the gaposis. In fact, if you’ve ever tried on anything from the store that buttons down, you definitely know about gaposis. It’s even very possible that a man pointed out to you that your shirt was gaping you-know-where.

Having your buttons in the right place counteracts gaposis, as does a good fit. But if you have a great fit on a garment and you have poor button placement, you’ll have gaposis. Promise. So you probably noticed that the shirtdress for Simplicity 1880 came with this weird looking button placement thing – piece #5. Throw it out. You don’t need it. We’re going to start from scratch.

All you need is a measuring tape, some pins and a ruler or a simflex (which ps, these are the neatest little tricks!).

Step 1 – Find the point where your shoulder and neck meet. This is easier done if you’re wearing a necklace or tie a piece of string around your neck and let it fall naturally. Next find your apex – bust point – and use a pin or a sticker to mark it. Need I say this should be done with your bra on and in front of the mirror will help too. Now measure from your shoulder/neck point to your apex. Try to keep the measuring tape perpendicular to the floor, so if you aren’t directly over your apex, no biggie. Now write down that measurement.

Step 2 – Transfer the measurement to your pattern piece which in our case is piece #1. To transfer the measurement to the pattern piece, make sure that you’ve marked the seam allowances for the neck line and the shoulder and that you’ve attached the yoke (#2) to your pattern piece #1. Take your shoulder to apex length and mark your pattern piece with a ruler that’s parallel to the center front.

Step 4 – Create the critical buttonhole marking – this will keep your shirt dress closed at the critical point, if you know what I mean. Mark 1/8″ from the center front (in this case that would be to the right of the center front) and however large your buttonhole is. Buttonholes are marked and made 1/8″ off from the center front. If you don’t know your buttonhole length, just leave that for now. A buttonhole mark is all we’re looking for right now.

Step 5 – This is the fun part! If you have a Simflex (you can purchase one here btw) you’ll take it and make sure that one of the Simflex markers is lined up with your critical buttonhole marking and from there expand or scrunch the simflex til you see the amount of buttonholes you’d like to use. This may or may not be more than what the pattern calls for. If you don’t have a Simflex, you can figure this out manually by taking the length of the shirt front, minus seam allowances and divide that number by how many buttons are called for in the pattern. For example, the length of my center front pattern piece is 14 1/4″ – minus 1 1/4 for 2 seam allowances (the top and bottom seam) is 13″. The pattern calls for 4 buttons and 13″ divided by 4 is 3.25″, meaning that my buttonholes will each be 3.25″ away from each other beginning with that first critical buttonhole. Add the buttonholes above and below that critical buttonhole. Make sense? If you want to use more buttons, go ahead, you know what to do.

What do you guys think? Are you ready for button-up gaposis to be gone for good? I am! Yay!



16 thoughts on “2-in-1 Sewalong: the Shirt Dress Buttonhole Placement

  1. Sunni, as someone who is less than well endowed gaposis has never been a problem but I can definitely see how your fitting method works. There is a critical measurement for the button lappage (the area from the center line to the fold) that has to do with the size of the button that you might want to elaborate on in your next post. If you move up or down in button size from what the pattern recommends, you add or subtract to the button lappage. I learned that from “Sewing Secrets From the Fashion Industry” by Rodale Press. I’m following along with interest.

  2. Ah, the age old problem of gapiosis! I’ve never seen one of those button gauge thingies and can’t easily find them in the uk (except out of stock!) so look forward to you stocking them! In the mean time it’ll be Mathis and a tape measure for me!

  3. Oh, wow, that makes so much sense! I always have this problem with shop bought shirts, and I’ve always just resorted to buying a size too big. I’m in the middle of making a blouse at the moment as well so I’ll bear this in mind when I get to the buttonholes

  4. Now I NEED a simflex in my life! haha! So awesome! Thanks for the tip! I was a bit baffled regarding the placement! This makes so much sense!

  5. I only mark the button holes after the garment has been constructed. I wear it on and determine where my critical button should be and then do the math for the placement of the other buttons.

    1. That’s all well and good for regular old buttonholes, but what if you wanted bound buttonholes? Granted you can mark on a muslin first too, but I really do love this method as its very exact.

  6. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I love the idea of critical buttonhole. Just did buttons yesterday, and it all fits like a dream. It’s nice to have one garment that I don’t have to fuss with in the bust.

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