What are the different types of clothes fastening out there?
When it comes to creating a fashion piece, we need to also consider how we will get in and out of it. If it is a shirt or a skirt, the obvious answer would be to use buttons or a zipper. Are you like me and frequently drawing a blank and thinking only of buttons and zippers? For this week’s post, I decided it was important to highlight the other options open to use.
So, I give you: 15 types of clothes fastenings to up your fashion creations! Lets explore your options, and add even more WOW to your fashion pieces!
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no further cost to you.
Buttons – The Original Clothes Fastenings!
Buttons are the first thing we think of when it comes to considering garment fasteners. Quickly followed by zippers. So, lets get buttons out the way first before we dig a little deeper!
Most buttons you find on fashion creations are flat buttons. These lie flat against the fabric and generally have two to four holes in the centre that the needle and thread are passed through.
They’re are easy to sew on, either by hand or by machine, and come in a huge variety of materials, from plastic and wood, to metal, glass and ceramic too!
- Two holed buttons usually have the holes lined up parallel to the fastening edge.
- Four holed buttons are stronger than two holed buttons. They work well for heavier fabrics.
On a date with my partner, not long after we met several years ago, he told me about how his favourite jacket had too many buttons missing and he’d have to stop wearing it. I asked him to pass it to me, and after giving the jacket the once over I said with a saucy wink, ‘Aha, I can shank your buttons for you!’
Our date continued as they do. A few weeks later, he told me about his mum’s reaction when he’d said to her that I would shank his buttons for him – she looked at him aghast! He still thinks that was the reason it took his parents so long to invite me for a visit! 🙂
The shank is like a stem, with the button the flower on top. Shanking a button is only possible by hand. They cannot be machined on.
Cloth buttons are also shanked, having no visible holes to sew through. They can be flat or rounded and are covered with fabric, either solid in colour or with a matching or contrasting printed fabric.
Toggles. Oh how I remember toggles from my old school coats! Duffel coats and kids clothing are surely favourites to be toggled up?!?
Toggles are long and skinny, with a hole for attaching. Sometimes the toggle edges are rounded, and sometimes not. They are fed through a loop rather than a button hole.
Toggles can be considered much more of a statement fastening than regular buttons! What if you you were to cover your toggles with a fabric first? The contrast against the garment fabric could be quite a statement!
Other Clothes Fastenings!
Also known as denim buttons, these are studded so no needle and thread required! They have a pin which is used to pierce the fabric and is ‘pushed’ into the button part, sandwiching the fabric and securing the two pieces together. Mostly used on denim and heavy cottons, as they are too heavy for finer fabrics.
Snaps or poppers
Modern snap fasteners were originally envisaged by a German inventor in 1885. It was a ‘novelty fastener’ for men’s trousers.
However, they only really came into fashion in 1950s America, when they were used to decorate embroidered and fringed shirts for the stage.
Snaps are made up of rivets so they are stronger and work well for an easy on – easy off garment. Shirts, baby-grows, bags… Oh, and the aforementioned western shirt all use snaps.
When the two sections are joined together they make a ‘snap’ sound, hence the name.
Personally, I hate the original poppers. I think they’re pesky little things which require an awful lot of hand stitching to make sure they are securely attached. Meh! Nowadays you can use the snaps that are forced together using a tool. Boom! 🙂
Hook and Eye
A hook and eye is literally that. A metal hook, which catches on the metal eye.
They first appeared back in the 14th century. Used as an invisible button on English doublets and breeches, they were originally made by hand out of wire. Today’s version was created in the 19th century and patented in 1900.
To use them well, there does need to be some tension; if the fabric is not held taught, they’ll pop loose. 😮 That said, they are also used in the tops of skirts and dresses above a concealed zipper, offering an added layer of security just in case the zipper were to try to slide down.
Hooks and eyes are also used in bra’s and sometimes corsets which have no lacing.
Zippers as Garment Fasteners
The first zip as we know it today was designed by electrical engineer Gideon Sundback in 1913, though it was in 1851 that the first patent for an ‘automatic continuous clothing closure’ was filed.
Zippers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials and are used on everything from clothing to bags to tents and upholstery covers. Zips really are the most easy to use fastening.
Types of zippers are:
Metal Zipper by Riri, an Italian Manufacturer. My favourite sort of zipper!
Another Metal Zipper
An Invisible Zipper – See how the zip teeth are invisible when closed?
An Invisible Zipper – The teeth are now ‘just’ visible when the zipper is open
An open ended plastic zipper
Plastic Buckles – These would have fabric belts passed through the holes
Roman soldiers used to use ‘buccula’ to keep their helmets and body armour in place. The word translates from Latin into strap, and a buckle would have been necessary to keep the straps where they needed to be.
The earliest buckles were forged from bronze and used only by soldiers for some years. Their use then passed down to the wealthy until the 15th century. At this time, there were better manufacturing techniques and so many more buckles could be made at a lower cost. Not unlike today’s mass production!
Buckles are found nowadays on belts, bags, coats and as more contemporary fastenings on other fashion items. They are also no longer restricted to only being made of metal. Buckles have been made from many other materials through the years including wood, pearl, plastics and glass.
Metal Buckles – the more traditional kind!
A new style of buckle? Definitely a great way to close a heavy jacket?
Hook & Loop (Velcro)
Velcro, invented in 1951, is a recent invention. Using two strips, one of nylon hooks and one of nylon loops, these strips are stitched into place. When pressed together they stick, and need to be ‘ripped’ apart.
Used on kiddies shoes, water tight garments (wetsuits etc) and in theatre for easy changes, velcro is not ordinarily something you would use for general fashion garments.
That said, it has come into its own for innovative use, the most famous being used to hold together a human heart during the first ever artificial heart surgery!
Frogging, or a Frog Fastener, is a braided loop fastening seen mostly on the fronts of garments. Designed more as a decorative fastener, frogging is essentially shaped fabric tubes and the frog is the ‘button’ that goes through the frogging loop.
It is often paired with a mandarin collar. (See this tutorial on how to draft a mandarin collar!)
Grommets are plastic or metal rings, used to reinforce holes in the fabric you’re using. Ribbon, lace or cord can then be passed through, lacing the two sides together, just like in a corset. The grommet hole is called an eye. To install grommets or eyelets, you’ll need a special tool – this one on Amazon works a treat!
You’ll also need to pierce holes in the fabric first, and this tool has some great reviews!
Brooches are primarily intended nowadays as a decorative closure, utilising a catch and a pin, which you fasten to cloth, like a safety pin. Normally embellished or made of metal, they can add a nice touch as clothes fastenings if used in the right way.
Historically, the brooch was one of the earliest fastenings to be introduced in Europe. Small brooches would be used to hold together the edges of a neckline slit.
Most often used nowadays on traditional Scottish kilts and the more decorative versions can be found on our grandparents cardigans.
A recent addition for clothes fastenings: the use of magnets!
Strong magnets are enclosed in small plastic pouches which are sewn into the garment and hidden by the facing. Great for when a clean minimal look is required with no visible closures to mar the silhouette.
Magnets would be sewn one piece into each side, hidden by the facing or lining.
Fabric Ties and Laces
Lacing, fabric ties, and cord have all been used through time as a way to fasten a closure in clothing.
Used either to lace something together with grommets or sewn into the edged of the opening and tied together, this is a nice clothes fastenings if you do not want to use buttons or other hardware.
If making fabric ties yourself, it would be good to practice the art of making rouleau tubing. Ideally using soft fabrics, they should be cut on the bias to ensure a smooth finish.
So, there you have it. 15 different clothes fastenings to think about when designing your next fashion creation. Can you think of anything I have missed? Pop your ideas in the comments box below!
Til next time…
RECOMMENDED Reads: Check out 5 EASY SEWING PATTERNS FOR BEGINNERS for some sewing project ideas, and if you feel like a more in-depth look at fastenings, try my GUIDE TO SEWING PESKY ZIPPERS and this BUTTONS & BUTTONHOLES post!