Our extensive Button and Closure department offers a range made from several different materials which are also available in different styles. We can also make buttons for you to coordinate with your outfit or accessory.
In modern clothing and fashion design, the simple button is a small fastener or closure. It is now most commonly made out of plastic but is also made out of glass, metal, wood, or seashell. The purpose of the button, is to join two pieces of fabric together. In archaeology, the button can be a significant artefact. In the applied arts and in craft, a button can be an example of folk art, studio craft, or even a miniature work of art.
Buttons are usually attached to your clothing but they can also be used on items like wallets and bags. They may equally be sewn onto items for decoration purposes. When they are being used as closures or fasteners, they work by slipping through a fabric or thread loop or by sliding through a buttonhole. Other types of fastenings include zippers, Velcro, and magnets.
Used as ornaments, they have been discovered in the Indus Valley Civilisation during its Kot Diji phase (c. 2800–2600 BC) as well as Bronze Age sites in China (c. 2000–1500 BC) and Ancient Rome. Made from seashell they were used for ornamental purposes by 2000 BC. In fact, the button was originally used more as an ornament than a fastener, the earliest known being found at Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley. It is made of a curved shell and is about 5000 years old.
Their use for fastening clothes first appeared in Germany in the 13th century and they soon became widespread in 13th- and 14th-century Europe.
The storage possibilities of metal buttons, during the World Wars, where British and U.S. military locket buttons were made and contained miniature working compasses.
Because buttons have been manufactured using both natural and synthetic materials, the history of the material composition of buttons reflects the timeline of materials technology. Vegetable ivory was said to be the most popular for suits and shirts, and papier-mâché far and away the commonest sort of shoe button. These days, glass, hard plastic, seashell, metals, and wood are the materials most used in button-making.
Qiaotou, Yongjia County in China produces around 60% of the world's buttons.
Shank buttons have a hollow protrusion on the back through which thread is sewn to attach the button. Button shanks may be made from a separate piece of the same or a different substance as the button itself, and added to the back of the button, or be carved or moulded directly onto the back of the button, in which latter case the button is referred to by collectors as having a 'self-shank'.
Flat or sew-through buttons have holes through which thread is sewn to attach the button. Flat buttons may be attached by sewing machine rather than by hand, and may be used with heavy fabrics by working a thread shank to extend the height of the button above the fabric.
Stud buttons (also push-through buttons or just studs) are composed from an actual button, connected to a second, button-like element by a narrow metal or plastic bar. Pushed through two opposing holes within what is meant to be kept together, the actual button and its counterpart press it together, keeping it joined. Popular examples of such buttons are shirt studs and cufflinks.
Snap fasteners (also pressure buttons or press studs) are metal (usually brass) round discs pinched through the fabric. They are often found on clothing, in particular on denim pieces such as pants and jackets. They are more securely fastened to the material. As they rely on a metal rivet attached securely to the fabric, pressure buttons are difficult to remove without compromising the fabric's integrity. They are made of two couples: the male stud couple and the female stud couple. Each couple has one front (or top) and rear (or bottom) side (the fabric goes in the middle).
- Covered buttons are fabric-covered forms with a separate back piece that secures the fabric over the knob.
- Mandarin buttons or frogs, are knobs made of intricately knotted strings. They are a key element in Mandarin dress where they are closed with loops. Pairs of mandarin buttons worn as cuff links are called silk knots.
- Worked or cloth buttons are created by embroidering or crocheting tight stitches over a knob or ring called a form. This is usually usually done with linen thread. Dorset buttons, handmade from the 17th century to 1750, are of this type.
The size of the button depends on its use. Shirt buttons are usually small and spaced close together; coat buttons on the other hand are larger and spaced further apart. Commonly measured in lignes they are also called lines; 40 lignes equals 1 inch. Some standard sizes of buttons are 16 lignes (10.16 mm, standard button of men's shirts) and 32 lignes (20.32 mm, typical button on suit jackets). The American NBS has its own button sizing system which divides button sizes into 'small', 'medium' and 'large'.
Koumpounophobia, the fear of buttons, is a surprisingly common phobia. Sufferers frequently report being repulsed by the sight of buttons, even on other people, and being unable to wear clothing with them.