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Buttons in Garment Manufacturing

Accessories for Garment making

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Buttons are small instruments use to fasten two parts of a garment. It is an element that makes the difference and enhances a men’s or women’s garment, a leather item, a pair of jeans. Elegant and classical buttons mean style; the perfectly shaped and colored button is a design feature. Buttons are of different material, color, and shape, and they allow the wearer’s personality to stand out, enhancing a garment, a leather item, or some jeans.

About Button

button-t-shirtThe button is a small round disc usually attached to an article of apparel or garment in order to secure an opening, or for decorative ornamentation. Buttoning is done by sliding the button through a fabric with reinforced slit called buttonhole or thread loop. Buttons are fashionable because they also decorate and enhance the look of apparel.

History and Origin of Button

During the ancient Indus Valley civilization (circa 2800-2600 BC) and Bronze Age sites in China (circa 2000-1500BC). Beads were found to be in use to fasten body covering materials like hide etc. Beads were used as ornaments for their decorative and symbolic value rather than fasteners but gradually the use modified to fasten layers of materials. The term is from the French word, button meaning a round object. Functional Buttons with button-holes for fastening or closing clothing appeared first in Germany in the 13the century. They soon become widespread with the rise of snug fitting garments in 13th and 14th century Europe.

Stem Wrapping is a process where the threads under the button are wrapped automatically by machine to make a sort of neck to secure button and give reinforcement. This is widely used for buttons in garments made from thicker materials like Jackets, Overcoats etc. There are special machines used to make this neck/stem.

Stitch type and looping

The zigzag single chain stitch is the most common (stitch type 107) for sewing buttons, but if thread tail is loose. Then this thread tail can be pulled easily resulting in loose Button. Now generally all buyers ask for lockstitch type (stitch type 209)

Best Buttons are…

  • Flat and attractive
  • Sized according to the button size button thickness and the fabric thickness
  • The same length and width through the area
  • Neatly slashed and unsightly threads removed
  • The placket should be smooth and flat; no gaping or pulling when buttons are secured in the buttonholes.
  • Buttonholes must be made before buttons are attached to the garment
  • Always make a test on some fabric and no of layers along with interfacing if any
  • Buttonholes are usually placed on the right bodice front for women’s garments and left front for men’s
  • Horizontal buttonholes are the most secure and help prevent the opening from gaping
  • Vertical buttonholes must be used when there is a center from band or placket.



Functional buttons are normally paired with a buttonhole.

Alternately, a decorative loop of cloth or rope may replace the buttonhole. Buttonholes are made by a sewing machine. Buttonholes often have a bar at either end.

The bar is a perpendicular stitch that reinforces the ends of a buttonhole.

Buttonhole size is the length of the bar to bar but the inside cut is big or too small buttonhole cut can restrict button to slide in or easily slip out of buttonhole. Appropriate buttonhole opening will be button size (L) + button thickness.

9 hole button

Cutting thread after sewing: The thread is cut with a shearing action by knife fixed to the sewing hook and cut the thread with a backstroke after the sewing process or either arranged below the throat plate.

Needle Recommendations

  • Using a correct needle size and right needlepoint with the right thread is important for trouble-free sewing process.
  • The needle must be checked frequently for their point and straightness as sometimes improper machine setting and an improperly positioned hole in the buttons can easily damage the need, causing reduced buttoning efficiency and quality.

Sewing Machine Recommendation

  • Regular maintenance and service of the machine is a basic requirement for trouble-free sewing process.
  • The machine should be adjusted or set each time by a trained professional. General machines can accommodate button size from 8 Ligne to 32 Ligne.

Button Quality recommendation

  • Check for the distance of the holes are uniform for all buttons, a little difference can deflect the needle and cause faulty stitches.
  • Buttonholes must be free from sharp edges and rough surface at sides of holes as these can rub through the thread causing breakage of thread or burr to a needlepoint.

General causes of loose buttons

  • Thread tail too short, less than 3mm
  • Number of stitch amount is too low
  • Inaccurate machine setting and incorrect thread tension
  • Wrong size of needle or thread size
  • The knot is damaged when thread tail is cut by hand while trimming process
  • Faulty and skip stitches

Recommendation to avoid losing the button

  • Thread tall must not be less than 3mm
  • Stitch amount must be not less than 5-6 stitches
  • Machine setting must be tested and checked before bulk button sewing
  • Ensure to use correct thread and needle size as appropriate with button and fabric material
  • First output must be thoroughly checked for any type of above defects in buttoning quality.

Sewing recommendations

  • For buttoning choosing right  sewing thread is very important
  • Fancy or decorative buttons which do not have a true function other than detail can be stitched using finer threads. If buttons are heavy use thicker sewing thread.
  • Use same quality thread which is being used for sewing garment as this reduces extra costs.
  • Fabric material thickness and product group are also important for determining thread size.

Button Types

  • Shank button
  • Self Shank button
  • Two or found hole button
  • Snap button
  • Cloth buttons are created by embroidering or crocheting tight stitches (usually with linen thread) over a knob or ring called a form
  • Mandarin buttons or Frogs are knobs made of intricately knotted strings where they are closed with loops

Buttons Differ in

  • Size (ligne)
  • Design Form (round, oval, rectangular, triangular, square etc.)
  • The distance between holes and no. of holes
  • Thickness (height of button)
  • The way their reverse side is made (convex, concave or flat)
  • Material with which buttons are made (Leather, Polyester, Metal, Horn, Shell, Rubber, Ivory)

Button Sizes

Button sizes are normally indicated by “Ligne” from French word meaning Line is a unit of length that was in use prior to french adaptation of the metric system in the late 1700s and still used by French and Swiss wrist watchmakers to measure the size of watch movement, and is abbreviated with the letter “L”. Ligne is the internationally recognized standard.

The conversion of Ligne is 0.635 for example 20 (20L) = 20×0.635 = 121.70mm. The measure indicates the distance of farthermost corners or multi-angular buttons or easy to say it is the diameter of round buttons.

Ligne Millimeters Inches
14 8.9 0.37
16 10.1 0.41
18 11.4 0.38
20 12.7 0.51
21 13.3 0.53
22 14 0.57
23 14.6 0.59
24 15.2 0.63
27 17.1 0.67
28 17.8 0.69
30 19 0.75
32 20.3 0.83
34 21.6 0.86
36 22.9 0.88
40 25.4 1
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