Ian Macrae tries out an ingeniously simple solution to a problem which has caused him small amounts of grief and regret whenever it has arisen.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It is a matter tinged more with shame and regret than pride that I never learned to sew on a button. As a disabled person committed to independence, it always slightly irked me that I had to ask someone else to make such small repairs for me.
But the wolf cub pack to which I belonged, being an all-blind group, though it did teach me how to lay a fire in a grate, did not go more deeply into other sorts of everyday skills which would arguably have been more useful during my life, particularly at those times when I lived alone. And my mother, also being blind, had never been taught the skill either.
So I was interested to learn recently of a Swedish invention, marketed over here as Button-Fix, which is a name with more clarity than its Swedish original, Tic.
Like many good ideas it’s fiendishly simple: a hinged piece of plastic with two points at one end which you push through the shirt at the point where the button has become detached. You then slot the button on to the two points as they poke through the shirt material and close over the other half of the device so that the other end locks the button in place. You then part tug, part rotate the plastic attachment until it snaps off leaving the button in place.
The first advantage this has over needle and thread is that, if you have sight or dexterity issues there’s no need to fight that frustrating battle to thread the needle. Also there’s no danger of pricking your finger. It’s also quicker and a good deal less fiddly than sewing a button by hand.
Having first removed a button from my shirt I had no difficulty in using Button-Fix to locate the replacement in the right place using the very obvious place on the shirt where it needed to go. I had thought that matching the button to the button hole might have presented difficulty but in the event it did not.
Shirt buttons come either with two or four holes. The one I was working with was a four-holer. This means that to secure it properly you need to use two Button-Fixes which, given that you throw most of the device away, arguably makes it rather resource-hungry.
But the main problem I had, doing the operation entirely by touch, was locating the second pair of holes on the button on to the second Button-Fix. I couldn’t figure out how to get the two little points through the shirt and into the two remaining holes which were proving difficult for me to locate. In the end I had to ask my daughter to do it for me. This left me slightly disappointed, although when she described how she’d done it by moving the button slightly to one side, I began to think that it might be a knack which I could acquire. I also wonder how easy removing the unwanted part of Button-Fix parts would prove for anyone with dexterity or other manual issues.
I have to say though that the final result is very satisfying with the button anchored very securely to the shirt, the plastic doing a much better job of fixing than thread does.
At present Button-Fix comes in black and white which is a slight limitation for me because, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I favour wearing very varied and highly patterned shirts which come with their own coloured buttons.
But overall it’s a relief to learn that at a relatively late stage in my life, I no longer have to worry about learning to sew.
Button-Fix is available in the UK from www.button-fix.org and costs £3.97 for a pack of 4 Button-Fixes and two buttons. Available in white or black.