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Button Up!

Updated: Jul 11

Exploring the World of Clothing Buttons: Types and Measurements

Buttons may be small, but they hold a significant place in the world of fashion. Not only are they functional, fastening our clothes securely, but they also serve as decorative elements that can transform a garment’s appearance. Today, let’s delve into the fascinating variety of clothing buttons and how they are measured, with a focus on UK English terminology.

Image below - Joblot of buttons

A Quick Guide to Different Types of Clothing Buttons

1. Shank Buttons:

Shank buttons feature a small loop (or shank) on the back through which the thread is sewn. This design allows the button to sit above the fabric, providing space for thicker materials to be fastened without pulling or puckering. They are often used on coats, jackets, and tailored garments.

2. Flat Buttons:

The most common type, flat buttons, have holes (typically two or four) through which they are sewn directly onto the fabric. These buttons lie flat against the garment and are versatile, used on everything from shirts and blouses to trousers and dresses.

3. Press-Stud Buttons:

Also known as snap buttons, press-studs consist of two interlocking discs. They are commonly used in children’s clothing, casual shirts, and accessories. Easy to open and close, press-studs are practical for areas where quick fastening is needed.

4. Toggle Buttons:

Toggle buttons are elongated and often paired with loops or cords instead of buttonholes. They are prominently featured on duffle coats and knitwear. Toggles are not only functional but add a rustic, charming aesthetic to garments.

5. Stud Buttons:

Stud buttons, or popper buttons, are frequently seen on denim jeans and other heavy-duty garments. They consist of a male and female part that snap together. Known for their strength, they are perfect for items that require durable fastening.

6. Covered Buttons:

These buttons are covered with fabric that matches or complements the garment. Covered buttons add a touch of elegance and are often used on bridal wear, formal clothing, and vintage-style garments.

7. Decorative Buttons:

These buttons are primarily for embellishment. They come in various designs, including rhinestone, metal, and novelty shapes. Decorative buttons can transform a simple garment into something special and unique.

Measuring Clothing Buttons

In the UK, buttons are typically measured in lignes, a traditional unit of measurement for buttons. One ligne is equal to 1/40th of an inch (approximately 0.635 millimetres). Here’s how you can measure buttons accurately:

1. Diameter:

The diameter is the most common way to measure a button. Place the button on a flat surface and measure straight across the centre from one edge to the other using a ruler or a button gauge. This measurement is given in millimetres or lignes.

2. Thickness:

The thickness of a button is also an important measurement, especially for shank buttons. Measure from the back of the button (including the shank) to the front.

3. Hole Size:

For buttons with holes, the diameter of the holes may also be relevant, particularly if you’re using thicker threads. Use a fine ruler or gauge to measure the width of one of the holes.

Understanding Ligne Measurements:

To convert millimetres to lignes, divide the diameter of the button in millimetres by 0.635. For example, a button with a diameter of 15 millimetres would be approximately 24 lignes (15 ÷ 0.635).

To summerise

Buttons are more than just fasteners; they are integral to the design and functionality of clothing. From the practicality of flat and press-stud buttons to the elegance of covered and decorative buttons, there is a button for every need and style. Understanding the types of buttons and how to measure them ensures that you choose the perfect button for your garments, enhancing both their appearance and usability. So next time you’re selecting buttons for your project, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make the best choice. Happy garment making!


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