What is common for pants, shirts, jumpers, coats, cardigans, and a name for a cat? Its buttons!
A button is a kind of closure that fastens two sides of a garment or a fabric together by engaging in a loop on the other cloth or another fitting part.
Made of plastic, metal, wood, pearl, shell, resin, cloth, rhinestones, crystals, gems, bones, ivory, horns, and other materials, they have been used as decorative show-off items in ancient times.
Only after the industrial revolution did the mass production of buttons see the light of the day. And since then, there has been a lot of innovation in the different types of buttons for clothes. Let’s dive deep into the world of buttons as we know it today.
Until the 13th century, buttons were used only for their aesthetic value and not for utility purposes. Shank buttons are attractive and serve a dual purpose. Made of pearl or synthetic or ornamental or crystal, shank buttons have a solid button face with a hole or a loop on the back side that can be sewed into the garments. With so much innovation and variety, the fashion value of shank buttons is higher than utility, and they make your dresses look pretty.
Originally used for holding the lapel in place on the coat, lapel buttons used to be sewn inside using an inlaying technique. Later, they stopped being buttons and evolved into pins! Now they have become the kind of pins that people wear on their shirts, ties, and coats for supporting causes and promoting a team or campaigning for electoral candidates. Because you can put them on your anything, the original Chinese lapel buttons have been reduced to mere pieces of adornment.
Button on one side and disc on the other; it holds the fabric in place by sandwiching it. These are commonly seen in denim jeans, jackets, and other denim garments. By the process of snapping, a screw-like disc and the head are pinched with the fabric in between. This process doesn’t need sewing. And then they can be used to fasten the jeans by passing through the buttonholes. For a strong fabric such as denim, you need a strong fastener that can hold its weight.
To create the buttons matching the fabric or contrasting the fabric, covered buttons were invented. Their dome-shaped head has teeth that can hold the cloth on top and another metal piece fitting the dome and having holes that can be used to sew in the fabric. Flat, domed, and half ball are the most popular types observed. They are a great way to amp up the fashion quotient of the garment. Whether they are on top of a slitted skirt or the side of the dress, when placed expertly, they embellish the clothes in a unique way.
Tailor-made, ready to be sewn, some companies specialize in making made-to-order kinds of buttons for major fashion houses like Fendi, Armani, and many more. They have also developed a technology to make white buttons that can take up dyes easily to match the color of the clothes. Speaking of customized buttons, the sky is the limit! Anyone, anywhere, with an extraordinary skillset can make customized buttons of their choice. Like the car logos, the customized denim buttons bear the logo of the brand.
The Chinese/ Frog buttons
One of a kind. With their intricately embroidered (or rope) loop and the button, the frog buttons are indeed both decorative and useful. When you don’t want any extra ornament, this threaded rope or fabric will serve the purpose of decorating the garment. Also, thanks to its Chinese heritage, it has got a special traditional sensibility to it, which goes amazingly with the modern fusion fashion. A perfect blend of contemporary and traditional fashion, these buttons facilitate the closure of more than just garments.
These are usually the hidden buttons mostly used in clothes and bags when you don’t want the closures to be visible. One of the most useful buttons they are sewn into the garments on either side of the closures to snap it close. Seamless closures, indeed, you can do so much on the top of the garment or the purse. There’s so much more space for decorative embellishments once the traditional button is out of the picture.
Now, snap buttons are the kind of buttons you commonly see on purses, wallets, baby onesies, shirts, and sometimes on the coats too. They make the popping sound when closing and exist in many variations. The original ones were metallic, and now they exist in plastic form too. Depending on the sturdiness of the fabric and the purpose of closure, their material varies. A German invention, one can safely say that its purpose is solely practical and not fashionable.
One of the buttons commonly observed on the sweaters and coats, toggle buttons are long, shaped like rods, and have two holes. They are sewn into the cloth using the holes and can be used to fasten the ends of a sweater or a cloak using a loop or a buttonhole. Usually, the toggle buttons are made of wood, resin, or even horn for their rustic appearance on the coats and cloaks; however, they can easily be replaced by plastic too.
The last and the most basic in the list are the flat buttons. Mass-produced and flat as a bread slice, these round discs have two to four holes for sewing into the fabric. While they can be designed in all imaginable shapes, the holes are symmetric and evenly spaced to ensure a balanced holding. You could put cross stitches or parallel stitches in a four-holed button to fix it on thicker, stronger fabric. Whereas for a thinner fabric, a two-holed button should be enough. Using these, embroidery work can also be created. You’ll see these buttons on your formal shirts and cuffs.