Once And For All: How to sew a button, with Gemma and Sue of Clothes Line Saga

· Thursday December 20, 2012

Meet Gemma and her mum Sue, two of the most fun people to have a chat to. When they aren't winning big on the television, or winning spoken word poetry prizes, they run the neatest little basement store Clothes Line Saga on Rundle Street. We talked about buttons of course, as well as hand puppets, and Deal or No Deal.

Daniel Gladys: Hello, thanks for talking to me. What did you two do before Clothes Line Saga?

Sue: I worked in accounts.

Gemma: I was just working in retail. I was at JB Hi Fi.

Daniel: What made you wanna start Clothes Line Saga?

Gemma: Well, I won some money, which kind of got the ball rolling.

Daniel: Really?

Gemma: In a game show.

Sue: That's the story! Deal or No Deal!

Daniel: Do you have the YouTube video? Did someone record it?

Gemma: Look, my uncle burnt me a copy on DVD alright? If you must know.

Daniel: Do you watch it once a year?

Gemma: No, I don't ever watch it.

Sue: Her dad watches it all the time. When someone new comes to his work he brings out the DVD.

Gemma: It's made a man happy, that's for sure. Yeah. I was on there a first time and I only won a hundred bucks. Then they called back the biggest losers of Deal or No Deal and I won 13 grand which got us interested in doing the store.

Sue: On the second show her dad got out the puppets.

Gemma: Yeah, hand puppets.

Daniel: Puppets. OK… was that your idea?

Sue: No, she didn't know anything about it (laughs).

Daniel: Whose idea was the hand puppets then?

Gemma: My dad… He wanted to be a ventriloquist at one stage. For a joke we got him hand puppets at Christmas - a pig and a teddy bear. Yeah.

Sue: She was devastated.

Gemma: Yeah. He shoved them down his jacket and I saw him walk passed me shoving these things down his shirt and I was like, 'He brought the hand puppets! Why would he bring the hand puppets? He's gonna bring out the hand puppets. What am I gonna say? Do I talk to the hand puppets?'. Yeah, he just…

Sue: Brought out the hand puppets!

Gemma: Brought them out and they had to stop recording because I froze and Andrew O'Keefe just laid on the floor laughing. I hated it but they loved it. It was a good experience - character building. So that's how that happened.

Sue: That's how we got the shop. Actually, before the second time, we already had the idea.

Daniel: So you had the idea and then you went on Deal or No Deal with puppets to make it happen?

Gemma: Yeah.

Gemma: Three years later… thanks Andrew O'Keefe!

Daniel: So, that brings us to buttons. Say you've got a top that's missing a button, what do you do?


Gemma: First up. Thread some thread through a needle. Don't forget to try and make the colour match with your garment.


Gemma: A little trick is to cut the thread on an angle because that makes it easier to thread through the needle. Then tie it off. I learnt that at home mum. And then…

(Gemma stabs mum Sue with the scissors…)


Gemma: I stabbed you with the scissors!

Sue: Ouch.

Gemma: OK, then tie a knot in the end of your length of thread.

Sue: Yeah, so it doesn't keep going through the fabric.


Sue: So now we get our garment and coming from the back do a small stitch or two on the front of the fabric at the centrepoint of where the button will be but without the button.


Sue: Do it very shallow in the fabric just to secure the thread and to make an 'anchor' point.


Sue: Grab your button, making sure it is facing the right way, then thread your needle through the first hole in the button.


Sure: Make sure it is positioned right. Then, if it is, thread down through the other hole.


Sue: Thread it through from the back again but you want to find the hole that you already made, which it isn't always easy. Up through one and down through the other. Do that maybe…

Gemma: Until secured.

Sue: Yeah, so maybe 10 times just to make sure.

Gemma: You wouldn't do 10 times on a smaller button though?

Sue: No, it depends on the button.


Sue: Okay, so when it comes to finishing it, you will come through to the back side and from there do about three little tiny stitches all in the same spot. Secure it off.


Sue: Get scissors and cut it as close to the fabric as you can.

Daniel: And that's it? You've got a button.


Sue: A button!

This article is part of our new series 'Once And For All', made possible with support from Ketel One. Stay tuned for further posts in which local characters teach us how to do things properly.