What Are the Common Button Sizes? (Size Chart Included)

Button Sizes

When it comes to button sizes, you can typically find what you want by checking out the small, medium, and large button size bins.

However, their sizes can be broken down even further into diameter measurements, which is a far more accurate way of determining what button you should get for any kind of garment.

In this guide, I’ll go into detail about all button sizes and the types of buttons you can get.

Button Size Chart

Before doing anything else, we first have to understand how buttons are measured. If you go into a button shop, they will most likely measure their buttons using the French term ligne, which translates to length. 1 ligne is the same as 1/40 of an inch. Button sizes start at 1 ligne or 1L and range all the way up to 60L and even beyond.

Now, you should understand how to use the following button size chart.

SizeDiameter (inches)Diameter (millimeters)

Standard Button Sizes

There is no universal standard button size for all articles of clothing. The standard used for one type will be different from other types.

For instance, sleeve buttons will usually use 16L or 18L buttons, whereas dress shirt buttons will 18L to 22L buttons. Suit jackets will use larger buttons that measure between 36L and 45L.

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Why Does Button Size Matter?

Why Does Button Size Matter?

To a layman, button sizes don’t seem like that big of a problem. In fact, you’ve probably sewed a random button onto your shirt or pants before, and never has it caused you any problems. This is only true if you’ve never sewn your clothes from scratch before.

Many sewers can get irritated when you give them a button of the wrong size. This is due to the fact that sewers create buttonholes that are suited for a very specific button size.

For instance, a buttonhole that is made to receive 14L buttons will be far too narrow for 40L buttons.

Types of Buttons

Types of Buttons

In addition to button sizes, you should also be aware of how the type of button will affect the outcome of your sewing project. Even though two buttons may have the same size rating, their shape and design can make them incompatible with each other’s buttonholes.

To understand this concept, let’s take a look at the various types of buttons available.

  • Acrylic Buttons are mainly used for clothing that will be exposed to the element. The durability of acrylic allows the button to withstand extreme temperatures without fading or cracking. Buttons made of acrylic are also fairly inexpensive, and they can come in a variety of shapes.
  • Beaded buttons are great for glamorous dresses and fancy coats. They consist of hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny beads that are woven together to create a durable button of multiple colors.
  • Braided buttons are made of all kinds of materials. Their braided appearance is unlike any other kind of button, which makes them suitable for elegant attire.
  • Leather buttons are buttons that are made of cowhide. The material is usually braided or woven together to create a large, hard button that can withstand extreme climates. Leather buttons are exclusively used on outerwear, such as jackets and sweaters.
  • Novelty buttons come in a wide variety of funky shapes and styles. You can find star-shaped novelty buttons that are admittedly a pain to use but will make your everyday clothes even more fun to wear. For obvious reasons, you should avoid using novelty buttons on formal clothing.
  • Shell buttons are a classic type of button. They’re also made from acrylic, but they have a glossy look that makes them a great button option for tuxedos, wedding gowns, and any piece of formal attire.
  • Wood buttons are not often used, but if you’re aiming for a more rustic look, then this is the best option. However, the wood isn’t usually treated apart from stain or garnish, so they’re not exactly waterproof. Plus, the surface can fade over time.
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Choosing a Button Backing

While you might have a type of button in mind, you also have to be aware of how it’s sewed onto your clothes. If you turn a button around, you’ll see the backing, which will indicate how to fasten the button.

  • With 2- and 4-hole buttons, they have barebacks, so you don’t have to create fancy knots to secure the button.
  • Shank-style backings are buttons that have a tiny loop or ring in the back. The thread loops into the hole multiple times to keep the button in place. However, since the button is held in place via a single hole, it might tend to wobble over time.
  • Tunnel shank backings are another type of 1-hole backing. The difference is that the shank is easier to hide inside the fabric, which gives it more stability.

What Is a Fashion and Designer Button?

To put it simply, a fashion and designer button is a type of button that is used to give off a stylish look. Consider them to be the polar opposite of acrylic, wooden, and beaded buttons, which are there for simplicity, function, and fun.

Fashion and designer buttons come in a multitude of styles, sizes, and materials. What separates this type of button from the rest, apart from its elegance, is its cost. You should expect to spend several times more on a single fashion and designer button than you would a single pack of 50 acrylic buttons.

That said, fashion and designer buttons can be worth the cost, especially if you poured your heart and soul into making the most graceful outfit possible using your own two hands.

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Consider them to be the X factor—you’ve already spent countless hours on a fancy gown; why not splurge a bit more and get designer buttons to finish the look?


Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com

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