Generally speaking, button sizes fall into three basic categories – small, medium and large but they can be further broken down into precise diameter measurements. Buttons serve multiple functions as they fasten clothing and add decorative flair. They have evolved into one of the most versatile accessories for the dressmaker and home sewer. The coming of age of plastics and mass production has allowed buttons to become affordable and infinitely varied in color, shape and button sizes.
Button Sizes – HOW ARE BUTTONS MEASURED?
Buttons are measured in “ligne” which is a French term to measure length. A ligne measurement starts at 1 and is abbreviated to 1L. The L is measured in 0.025 millimeters or 0.635 inches. The L is measured across the diameter of the button using the widest portion.
Fashion buttons and designer buttons are manufactured in limited editions and the sizes can vary from 10L (6.35mm to 0.25mm) up to 60L (38.1mm to 1500mm) or larger.
Further Reading: Types of Buttons
Button Sizes Chart
Here is a button sizes chart with the ligne converted to inches and millimeters. Note there is a small amount of rounding in the conversions. You will notice that some of the measurements between buttons are very small.
What are Standard Button Sizes?
Shirts have a standard size of 16L (10.16mm) and a bigger button size 32L is the norm for jackets. Many of my kid’s sewing patterns use 20L buttons which is the 1/2″ size.
Although there are standard button sizes for specific patterns, it is always possible to change the size of your button for a bigger or smaller button and adjust the buttonhole length accordingly.
The spacing of the buttons and buttonholes on the article or garment is an important facet of using buttons to their full potential.
Alternatives to Button Sizes
There are several alternatives to sewing buttons on your projects including snaps, Velcro, zippers and hook and eyes. My favorite alternative to buttons is to use snaps.
- Alternatives to Buttons
- How to Use Kam Snaps
- Sewing Velcro
- How to Sew a Zipper
- How to Sew a Hook and Eye
- Sew on Snaps – Press Studs
Button Sizes – In Conclusion
In your sewing notions stash, you can never have too many button sizes to mix and match on your garments.
However, if you suffer from koumpounophobia, the fear of buttons, you may want to avoid buttons regardless of their size!
More Button Tutorials
Here are more articles on sewing buttons and buttonholes –