Button and Buttonhole: Types, Techniques and Machines

Button and Buttonhole: Technical Critique

Amarnath Sharma
MBA, NIFT-Bangalore, India
Email: sharmaamarnath1973@gmail.com


Mugal emperor, Aurangzebe was very much fascinated for designer cloth and increasing his dominions. Once he ordered death sentence to his apparel maker for unpleasant look of golden button in his new sherwani. Later the cloth maker attached some special kind of original pearl button and king forgiven him because of superb creativity.

Button and Buttonhole
Fig: Button and Buttonhole

Button and buttonhole plays an important role in any kind of apparel for easiness in wearing and final presentation. Intensive research has been done in modern fashion world for button and buttonhole. This article would brief about the various technical aspects of button and buttonhole.

Latest machines are equipped with fully computerized operation panel, lock stitch, oil free and high rpm facility. For example;

Button Machine:
Latest machines are equipped with enormous facility. Some of them are as follows;

  • Higher productivity: – Sewing speed of 2,700 plus rpm.
  • Many different sewing patterns: – 50 plus different sewing patterns and can be changed easily through computer operation panel.
  • Excellent seam quality: – Latest technology used for consistent knot tying at the beginning of sewing.
  • Auto lifter mechanism: – Button holder device may be set to auto lifting mode from a one-step stroke to two step strokes, which helps in better positioning of material on machine and also helps to reduce operator fatigue.
  • No oil stains: – Advanced dry head technology do not require lubrication hence no oil stains on material. Nominal lubrication required on hook.
  • Auto feeding of buttons: – Mechanism developed to feed the button automatically.
  • Electronic thread tension control mechanism.
Buttoning machine
Fig: Buttoning machine

Other than above, 20,000 stitches can be stored in memory, 150 patterns sewing data can be added etc.

Buttonhole Machine:
Latest machines are high-speed, computer-controlled and lock stitch buttonholing machine equipped with following features;

  • Higher productivity: – Sewing speed of 4,200 plus rpm.
  • Many different sewing patterns: – 30 plus different sewing patterns and can be changed easily through computer operation panel. Able to store 100 plus patterns in memory.
Button hole machine
Fig: Button hole machine
  • Excellent seam quality: – Latest technology adapted for different kind of sewing setting. i.e. Buttonhole after basting stitch, purl stitching, whip stitching, double stitching etc.
Button holes
Fig: Button holes
  • Auto lifter mechanism: – Pedal has got the many function one among them is newly developed auto-lifter driven by a stepping motor, which helps to reduce operator fatigue.
  • No oil stains: – Advanced dry head technology do not require lubrication hence no oil stains on material.
  • Easy threading: – Needle bar has been designed for easy threading.
  • Electronic thread tension control mechanism.
  • Multiple knife dropping function and 120mm sewing length: – Machine can do 10mm wide bar tack with 120mm buttonhole length through multiple knife dropping system.

Button and buttonhole machine attachments;

  1. Collar band button stitch guild (601): – Attachment for without marking buttoning on collar band.
  2. Collar band buttonhole guild (602): – Attachment for without marking buttonholing on collar band.
  3. Collar tip / point buttonhole stitch guild (603): – Attachment for collar point buttonhole.
  4. Collar down button stitch gauge (604): – Attachment for button down collar buttoning. Many verities are available for different requirement.
  5. Cuff button stitch guild (605): – Attachment for buttoning of cuff without marking.
  6. Cuff buttonhole guild (606): – Attachment for buttonholing of cuff without marking.
  7. Button stitch spacing gauge (607): – Attachment for button stitch spacing gauge.
  8. Buttonhole spacing gauge (608): – Attachment for buttonhole spacing gauge.
  9. Buttonhole spacing gauge – Horizontal (609): – Attachment for horizontally buttonhole spacing gauge.
  10. Shank button stitch clamp (610): – On normal machine for attaching shank button.
  11. Shank button cover stitch clamp (611): – On normal machine for attaching fabric covered shank button.
  12. Hook stitch clamp (612): – Through this attachment, hook & eye can be attached.

Coats has developed ‘Secura’ fusible thread especially for button attachment. It is available in different counts for different need.

Thread consumption for button attachment: – 

  1. For 2-hole button approximately 0.30 meter. (14 stitches)
  2. For 4-hole button approximately 0.60 meter. (24 stitches)

Thread consumption for one standard buttonhole is approximately 0.60 meter to 01 meter depending on stitch density.

Commonly used needle system for buttoning machine is TQ X 1 and TQ X 7. For buttonhole DP X 5 is universal system of needle. Frequent problems due to needle.

Groz – Beckert RG POINT needle reduce these entire problems and helps to improve button-sewing quality. The RG POINT, with its peculiar ball shape tip, has proven superior for multipurpose use. This can be use on soft fabric like knits as well as label tacking through button sewing machines on heavy fabric.

STU, STUB etc. are the needle point system from other needle company for similar nature of work.

Types of buttons:
There are enormous types of button available. For example, sheet button, real (natural) mother of pearl button, laser button (matter engraved), metallic (brass) button, horn button, wood button, coconut button, shank button, fabric covered button, bone button, polyester button etc. Available in plenty of shapes, sizes, matt and shiny finish.

You may also like: Different Types of Buttons Used in Garments

Size table of button

Size table of button

Types of buttonhole: 

1. Direction wise:

Direction wise buttonhole

2. Sewing machine (bound) buttonholes: – When fabric is weak and cannot afford to carry buttonhole or in leather wear this buttonhole is commonly used.

a. On required placement cut the material in middle of rectangle as shown in the diagram then turn the material from cut to the reverse side and sew from the top securing corners.

Sewing machine (bound) buttonholes

b. For extra strength interfacing on reverse side may be use. Before cutting the material attach interfacing with main material then go ahead with rest of the process.

Sewing machine (bound) buttonholes1

3. Hand-work buttonhole: – Different shapes and designs of buttonhole can be made manually through cut and sew.

4. Buttonhole through loops: – Self filled tubing of bias-cut fabric attached with the body fabric to hold the button. Some time it may not be the bias and some time it may be filled with the cord.

Buttonhole through loops

5. Machine buttonhole: – Through latest machine without changing the CAM 30 different design can be done. Pls. see the buttonhole machine column ‘many different sewing pattern’.

Quality inspections tips:
Proper functioning, position of button and buttonhole must tally, buttonhole must not frazzle-they must retain their shape, thread end must be secured, lock stitch, length of buttonhole must be adapted to the size and thickness of the button, The neck length of button must be adapted to thickness of shell material, dyed button should be AZO free, metallic button should be nickel free and it should sustain pull test of 90 Newton for 10 seconds.

1. Nickel free test; Metallic button should be free from any nickel contents.

Testing method: 

  • 1% solution of dimethylglyoxim in absolute alcohol.
  • 10% solution in water of caustic ammoniac (10% spirit of ammoniac)

Two drops of each solution should put on a cotton plug and rubbed with a uniform movement for at least 30 seconds on button. If reddish/ pinkish color develops then it must be assumed that nickel discharge is greater than permissible level.

2. Pull test; For proper strength 2-hole button must have 14 stitches and 4-hole button must have 24 stitches. It must be attached with X (cross) stitches.

Testing method: –
Pull test machine required with ‘three-pronged clamp’ and lower fabric clamp. Three-pronged clamp designed for gripping 2-hole, 4-hole and jeans buttons. Lower fabric clamp is used to clamp the sample garment firmly and flatly and with no slippage while doing the test.

Attach the three-pronged clamp in upper hook of machine. Fix the button attached fabric in lower clamp. There should not be misalignment between upper and lower clamping devices for avoiding the error in force reading. Set the pointer to zero position before pull. Rotate the top flywheel to elevate the scale. On 90 Newton force for 10 seconds button should be pulled. After completion keep the written record of test. Tested garment must not go to the customer. Either button should cut and re-attached or garment should be rejected.

Workmanship tips:

  • Size of buttonholes: – Diameter of button + Thickness of button. Rough surface button should be added 1/8’’ more.
  • Interfacing: – Lightweight and delicate fabrics require back support for strength and nice appearance of buttonholes. Button which would be attached on single layer of fabric, must have back support i.e. Collar button down buttoning etc.
  • Placement marking: – Use magic pen for marking. Pattern must be developed for spacing mark through a qualified master. Example:
Placement marking
Fig: Placement marking
  • Base material on which button and buttonhole would be placed: – Some time fabric or material does not have proper strength to hold the button, in that case extra support required for holding the button and clean finish in buttonhole.
  • Placket width for button and buttonhole: – Buttonhole placket must be 1/8’’ extra wide than button placket for cover-up the lower placket seam.
  • Productivity calculation: – Time study may be done for calculating productivity as per available machine model. It is general belief that minimum 5000 buttons should be attached through one button machine in one eight-hours shift.
  • Looseness in button attach for thicker fabric: – Neck length of button must be as per thickness of fabric to avoid pull on placket.

Looseness in button attach for thicker fabric

  • Material shrinkage, ironing effects, wood button color discharge on garment while washing etc. must be checked before the mass production start.

Buttons are an important part of the garment. Button should relate to the fabric, design of the garment and most importantly the wearer.

You may also like:

  1. Different Types of Buttons Used in Garments
  2. Consumption Calculation of Fabric, Garment Trimmings and Accessories
  3. Calculate Yarn Consumption and Costing for Fully Fashioned Knitwear
  4. Different Types of Garments Accessories with Pictures
  5. Different Types of Trims Used in Garments
  6. Fabric Sourcing: Key Task for Garment Merchandiser
  7. Proven Sourcing Strategy for Trims and Accessories
  8. Step by Step Knit Garments Merchandising: A Beginner’s Guide
  9. Strategic Business Pattern of Apparel Buying House or Sourcing Hub Office
  10. The Way of Smart Apparel Merchandising
  11. Professional Practice of Fashion Merchandising in RMG Sector of Bangladesh

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3 thoughts on “Button and Buttonhole: Types, Techniques and Machines”

  1. Very nice and useful article. We appreciate if you could write a article on the types of the machines to be used in healthcare apparel and trims. Also would like to know who will be great player in healthcare industry.


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