Handmade button holes

MY name is Charlie.

Henry Herbert Tailors is my small tailoring firm, which I set up in July 2009 – some eleven years ago. This is a new way that we will be writing on our Style Blog. I will be talking more about the actual work that we do at Henry Herbert.

We are a small workshop based in beautiful Bloomsbury in Holborn, central London. We made the deliberate choice to base ourselves in this part of town – away from Savile Row. We wanted to be close to our customers in both East, West, North and South London – as well as somewhere convenient to get to for our national and international customers – we are close to the major London train stations and we have a direct Tube line from Holborn to Heathrow.

Every day so many interesting pieces of work pass right before our very eyes and I think for many years we have taken it for granted – often with the pressures of meeting customer deadlines, means that we rarely take or have the chance, or time, to stop and appreciate the incredible craftsmanship that our tailors take in their stride every day of the week.

Faced with yet another pressing deadline to complete a jacket for the arrival of a customer, we set to work on finishing his hand made button holes – a feat in itself that takes years of practice. And so, below, is the photo story of how the story unfolded.

My introductions for each story will be short (as above), followed by a series of photos to show the work I am discussing. Above each photograph will be the text relevant to that photo. And I will open each story to comments (see the bottom of this story) – feel free to let us know what you think or you can always email me directly at charlie@henryherbert.com.

The jacket was part of a suit – a petrol blue wool single breasted two button suit. It was laid flat on a cutting table.

The breast button holes were marked out and prepared.

And then the lapel hole was prepared…three buttons in total that we would hand stitch.

We then had to choose the buttonhole thread and colour. The thread on the left we decided was too ‘electric’ – it would have been over powering for the rest of the suit.

For button holes we would normally choose the Gutermann brand of 100% silk buttonhole twist thread with a 30 Guage (the strength and thickness of the thread).

However, we were working with a heavy fabric and so we chose a different thread this time – one which would be robust and just as thick, but allow us to weave more easily through the thick cloth. And so we chose another variety of Gutermann – their dark Navy cotton thread, but still with a 30 guage.

The tailor, Francesco, set to work, firstly threading his needle with the new choice of thread.

And then he quickly set to work.

Each button hole takes about 20-30 minutes. An hour or so later, we were able to have the jacket finished ready to present to the customer.

I hope you have enjoyed this short story. I have enjoyed writing it, because I am proud to share the work we do, which we often take for granted. I am also glad to have written it, as it stops me in my footsteps to appreciate the wonderful craft that we have worked so hard for. These button holes will last the lifetime of the suit and very probably of the customer’s too.

If you have a moment, let me know what you think below.

With best wishes



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