Button History And 13 Button Facts

by Sherry Riter in Different

button gold decorated no holes blazer
Some of my earliest memories were of my mother threading a needle, tying a not on the end of the double thread and sewing buttons onto an article of clothing. The tiny object that keeps our shirt, coats, waistbands and cuffs together are often taken for granted until one of them falls off.

button large lavender purple blazer

“Once you have missed the first buttonhole
you’ll never manage to button up.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~

Button History And 13 Button Facts

A button is a small disk or knob that is sewn onto a garment to fasten it by being pushed through a buttonhole or other loop made for the button. Buttons have been around for a very, very long time. Let me tell you a few facts about the button and tell you about the history of the button.

  1. The oldest button ever found was in the Indus Valley Civilization which is now Pakistan. The button is made of a curved shell and dates back 5,000 years!

    Indus Valley Civilization Harappan Civilization

  3. In 2600-1500BCE buttons were used as ornamentation instead of as fasteners.
  4. Buttons with buttonholes used to keep clothing closed first appeared in 13th century Germany.
  5. By the 13th and 14th century, buttons were widespread throughout Europe.
  6. Ornamental buttons dating back between 2600-1500BCE have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization, Rome and China
  7. During the World Wars, the British and U.S. military used button lockets which were buttons constructed like lockets to store compasses.

    button white four holes shirt

  9. Buttons are made in all shapes and sizes.

    button wood brown two hole

    button thickness and attachment varies

  11. Flat buttons lie flat and have holes through them. The thread is sewn through the holes to attach the buttons to the fabric. Most new sewing machines can sew on a button.

    button pearl no holes white

  13. Shank buttons have a protrusion on the back with a hole in it. The thread is wrapped around and through the hole to attach the button.
  14. Stud buttons are the metal buttons you find on jeans and jean jackets. These buttons are riveted through the fabric with a button on one side and a disc on the other. This type of button is very secure because the fabric is sandwiched between the two metal pieces.

    button covered satin handmade no holes

  16. Covered buttons are buttons that are covered with a small piece of fabric. The smooth metal button has teeth to grab the fabric around the edges and a shank that is pressed onto the back to hold all the fabric edges in the hollow metal button back.
  17. Frogs are knotted strings in an intricate pattern which have a large string knob that is held within the knotted strings like a button and buttonhole.

    button old shape coat brown

    button holes not sewn into fabric

  19. Buttons are made of natural and man made materials.


button mother of pearl black
As I was going through stuff today, I came across some clothes that I wore as a baby. I thought about how almost fifty years ago, my teenage mother slipped the tiny buttons through the buttonholes. Funny how something as simple as a button can take you back to memories and feelings of long ago.



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stéfan July 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

“Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.” ~Camryn Manheim


2 The Redhead Riter July 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm



3 Susanne July 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

So true! I can’t help but chuckle…


4 The Redhead Riter July 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm



5 Susanne July 22, 2012 at 10:25 am

Love buttons. A great button can actually set off one of the little voices in my head that says…”you must have this item”. Funniest button sewing story, 2nd of my two Moms, attaching the top button of my favorite red wool winter coat, the one with the black velvet collar and cuffs, with dental floss. I kept having the problem of having to resew it due to so much use and tension. That top botton gets a lot of wear and tear during New England winters. She was so right. That botton never budged again. Many years later, when it was finally time to donate my red coat, that top botton was still working overtime.

Hmmm…the things we remember so clearly!


6 The Redhead Riter July 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

LOL That’s a cute story!!! I love it!!!


7 Skip_D July 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

Very cool! Buttons are quite interesting – & you came up with a number of intriguing facts that I’d never known. I’m familiar with the Harappan Civilization, but didn’t know about the buttons! I made a goatskin vest years ago, & carved bone toggle buttons for it, fastened with rawhide. Yup… they can be made of anything! 🙂


8 The Redhead Riter July 23, 2012 at 12:26 am

I knew that you would know all about the Harappan Civilization, but I’m glad I wrote about something that you didn’t know about during that era!!! 😀

Do you have a picture of the goatskin vest you made? I’d love to see it with the buttons. It sounds really cool!


9 Skip_D July 23, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Yes, I have. Kind of a cool pic, too… 🙂


10 The Redhead Riter July 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I want to see it!!!!


11 meg July 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

My mom had a tin full of buttons. I found the tin one day after she died & it brought back so many memories. I have the tin & am collecting my own buttons.It’s funny you wrote about this. Thanx, they are good memories.


12 The Redhead Riter July 23, 2012 at 12:23 am

I’m so glad it brought back good memories. I’m so glad you found the tin. It must be a comfort to you now that your mother has passed. I know that the few things I have that belonged to my dad bring me comfort. {{{hugssss}}}


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