This was one of those simple, obvious things that took me 7 years to figure out.
Short version: to make a reversible button fastener for overalls, make buttonholes in both the bib and strap. Then tie two buttons together with elastic cord. One of the buttons can be a large decorative button, because the smaller button can go through both buttonholes.
And here’s the 7-year version of the story:
I made these reversible overalls when Rose was a baby, and spent quite a while trying to figure out how to attach the straps to the bib with buttons that could show no matter which side of the overalls was outward.
The solution I eventually came up with was to sew buttonholes in the straps and the bib, making them the right size for a medium-sized clear button to pass through. (I actually sewed two buttonholes in each strap a few inches apart, so the straps could be worn shorter or longer.) Then I found two large decorative buttons, and tied each to the clear button, trying to leave a bit of space for the bib and strap to fit between them. Then I put the smaller clear button through the buttonholes in both the bib and strap.
Other approaches than the one I came up with would have been 1) Make a buttonhole in the bib, then thread the strap through the buttonhole and tie a knot in it, or 2) Make a horizontal buttonhole just wider than the strap, then thread the strap through the buttonhole and attach it to itself with a snap. With this method, the end of the strap would sometimes show, depending on which way the overalls were turned. But I preferred to find a method that would make use of pretty buttons.
Well, the approach I used never worked terribly well. When I left the thread shank too long, the strap and bib pulled too far apart, but when I made the shank shorter, it was very hard to wiggle the clear button through the button holes. But I lived with it.
But then Rose was an army-crawling baby, and when she crawled on concrete, she sanded the finish off the decorative buttons. So when she outgrew the overalls, I put them in my mending pile to replace the buttons later if I had another daughter.
And then I did have another daughter. But every time I saw the overalls in my mending pile, I still couldn’t think of a better way to do the buttons.
Today I decided just to do the buttons the same way as I had the first time–and then suddenly had the flash of inspiration to tie the buttons together with elastic cord, instead.
I threaded the elastic through both holes of both buttons from the front, then tied a knot flush against the smaller button on the back. I pulled on the knot from both sides, stretching the cord, to make it secure. Then I trimmed the ends to about 1/2″.
This works perfectly. The elastic stretches enough that it’s not hard to push the button through, but sits snugly in place. The sad part? By now, the overalls are much too small for Hazel to wear. Oh, well. I have high hopes to someday have a granddaughter who can wear these. (Or maybe, just maybe, another daughter of my own.)