Tip & How-To about Clothing

Clothing Maintenance Tip

My favorite button maintainer is something most people may have never heard of. If you search for "fray check dritz," you will see my favorite button saver product I keep in my sewing kit. It was originally designed to keep the edges of fabric on sewing projects from fraying and can usually be had for $5-$10 per bottle. I prefer fray-check to nail polish for stopping hosiery from unraveling, as it is not as stiff as nail polish. It also stands up to washing better than nail polish.

What I use fray-check for the most may sound a bit odd, if you've never heard of it. Before putting away new clothes, I place a dab of fray-check on the back of each button and let it dry. This prevents buttons from falling off in the first place. Especially good for buttons stitched on by machine, which loosen over time. Sometimes loosening after only the first wash or two. It is much easier than the alternative of either losing a button or stitching all buttons on securely by hand.

My other button maintenance item is, of course, my sewing kit. The classic small round cookie tin works just fine. At a minimum, scissors (small children's safety scissors are okay), basic thread colors (white,cream, tan, light grey, dark grey, black), seam ripper, safety pins, and common buttons for shirts and slacks. Larger safety pins are good for keeping spare buttons in order.

Even when not short of cash, snipping buttons from old clothing was still a habit for me. When collars and cuffs are frayed, the buttons are usually in good shape. Don't forget to take the "extra buttons", usually attached along a lower-inside seam. Searching for a matching button in stores can be a frustrating time-waster. Saved buttons are often better matches for missing buttons than what can be found in notion's section of fabric stores. If a button is lost entirely and you can't find a match, rather than replacing all of the buttons, you can switch one from below the belt-line with an exposed missing button. Look for the "extra button" often found along side seam. If you don't have a seam ripper or small embroider scissors, you can use thin sharp nail scissors. Just be careful not to damage the fabric where the button was sewn on.

Also, I open up the hole in the top of the applicator with a safety pin, rather than cutting it off. It can be opened up larger by using larger safety pin, but you cannot make the opening smaller. A little of this goes a long way. To protect fabric from transfer, you can use a piece of cardboard to lay garment on. You can slip either index cards or envelopes underneath buttons, between button and fabric, to protect fabric front from drips. Extreme care should be taken to not drip onto fabric, as this will leave a dark spot which will not wash out. Only do a couple of pieces of clothing at a time, as you do not want it transferring wet product from one garment to another.

On coats and jackets where button threads get more strain, you may wish to apply fray-check to front button threads. Suggest that you practice on backs of buttons first so that you can gauge how quickly the threads soak up the liquid.

Remember to always securely recap fray-check, so that it neither drys out nor leaks.

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