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In modern clothing and fashion design, a button is small fastener, most commonly made of plastic, but also frequently of seashell, which secures two pieces of fabric together. In archaeology, a button can be a significant artifact. In the applied arts and in craft, a button can be an example of folk art, studio craft, or even a miniature work of art.
Buttons are most often attached to articles of clothing but can also be used on containers such as wallets and bags. However, buttons may be sewn onto garments and similar items exclusively for purposes of ornamentation. Buttons serving as fasteners work by slipping through a fabric or thread loop, or by sliding through a buttonhole.
Buttons and button-like objects used as ornaments or seals rather than fasteners have been discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization during its Kot Diji phase (circa 2800-2600 BCE) as well as Bronze Age sites in China (circa 2000-1500 BCE), and Ancient Rome.
Functional buttons with buttonholes for fastening or closing clothes appeared first in Germany in the 13th century. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe.
Here are some different types of buttons:
Shank buttons have a hollow protrusion on the back through which thread is sewn to attach the button. Button shanks may be made from a separate piece of the same or a different substance as the button itself, and added to the back of the button, or be carved or moulded directly onto the back of the button, in which latter case the button is referred to by collectors as having a 'self-shank'.
Flat or sew-through buttons have holes through which thread is sewn to attach the button. Flat buttons may be attached by sewing machine rather than by hand, and may be used with heavy fabrics by working a thread shank to extend the height of the button above the fabric.
Covered buttons are fabric-covered forms with a separate back piece that secures the fabric over the knob.
Mandarin buttons or Frogs are knobs made of intricately knotted strings. Mandarin buttons are a key element in Mandarin dress where they are closed with loops. Pairs of mandarin buttons worn as cuff links are called silk knots.
Worked or cloth buttons are created by embroidering or crocheting tight stitches (usually with linen thread) over a knob or ring called a form.
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