BUTTON SIZES | With Button Sizes Chart

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Generally speaking, button sizes fall into three basic categories – small, medium and large but they can be further broken down into precise diameter measurements. Buttons serve multiple functions as they fasten clothing and add decorative flair. They have evolved into one of the most versatile accessories for the dressmaker and home sewer.  The coming of age of plastics and mass production has allowed buttons to become affordable and infinitely varied in color, shape and button sizes. 

Button sizesPinButton Sizes


Button Sizes – How are Buttons MeasuredButton Sizes ChartWhat are Standard Button Sizes?Alternatives to Button SizesButton Sizes FAQsWhat Does the L Stand for in Button Sizes?What Size is a 20mm Button?What Size is a Small Button?How Do you Measure the Diameter of a Button?Are Buttons Measured by Diameter or Circumference?Button Sizes – In ConclusionMore Button Tutorials

Button Sizes – How are Buttons Measured

Buttons are measured in “ligne” which is a French term to measure length. A ligne measurement starts at 1 and is abbreviated to 1L.  The L is measured across the diameter of the button using the widest portion. 

Fashion buttons and designer buttons are manufactured in limited editions and the sizes can vary from 10L up to 60L or larger.

Further Reading: Types of Buttons

Button Sizes Chart

Here is a button size chart with the ligne converted to inches and millimeters. Note there is a small amount of rounding in the conversions. You will notice that some of the measurements between buttons are very small.

10 ¼” 6mm
12 5/16″ 8mm
14 11/32″ 9mm
16 13/32″ 10mm
18 7/16″ 11mm
20 ½” 13mm
22 9/16″ 14mm
24 5/5″ 16mm
28 11/16″ 17.5mm
30 ¾” 19mm
36 ⅞” 22mm
40 1″ 25.5mm
45 1 ⅛” 28mm
50 1 ¼” 32mm
55 1 ⅜” 35mm
60 1 ½” 38mm
65 1 ⅝” 41mm
70 1 ¾” 44.5mm

Button Sizes Chart Showing Ligne and Button Diamater

What are Standard Button Sizes?

Shirts have a standard size of 16L and a bigger button size 32L is the norm for jackets. Many of my kid`s sewing patterns use 20L buttons which is the ½” size.

Although there are standard button sizes for specific patterns, it is always possible to change the size of your button for a bigger or smaller button and adjust the buttonhole length accordingly. 

The spacing of the buttons and buttonholes on the article or garment is an important facet of using buttons to their full potential. 

button sizesbutton sizesPinButton Sizes

Alternatives to Button Sizes

There are several alternatives to sewing buttons on your projects including snaps, Velcro, zippers, and hook and eyes. My favorite alternative to buttons is to use snaps.

Alternatives to ButtonsHow to Use Kam SnapsSewing VelcroHow to Sew a ZipperHow to Sew a Hook and EyeSew on Snaps – Press Studs

Button Sizes FAQs

What Does the L Stand for in Button Sizes?

The L stands for Ligne which is a French word denoting a code for button sizes. It measures the diameter of the button. 1 Ligne is equal to 1/40 of an inch

What Size is a 20mm Button?

A 20mm button is equal to 30 ligne or 30L and is ¾ inch in diameter. This is a common size for jackets and larger items.

What Size is a Small Button?

The term small button is quite subjective but most small buttons are under ½ inch (12mm) in diameter. The typical business shirt has buttons that are around that popular size.

How Do you Measure the Diameter of a Button?

The diameter of a button is simply measured across its surface from one side to another. To get accurate measurements on rounded buttons you can use a caliper which is a tool with adjustable jaws. Flat buttons can be measured with a ruler or tape measure.

Are Buttons Measured by Diameter or Circumference?

Button dimensions are measured by their diameter and not their circumference. This diameter is reported in ligne which is a button code, inches or millimeters.

Button Sizes – In Conclusion

In your sewing notions stash, you can never have too many button sizes to mix and match on your garments. 

However, if you suffer from koumpounophobia, the fear of buttons, you may want to avoid buttons regardless of their size!

More Button Tutorials

Here are more articles on sewing buttons and buttonholes:

Different Types of ButtonsHow to Sew a Button – 4 Holes, 2 Holes, ShankHow to Sew a Buttonhole – Automatic & ManualHand Sewn ButtonholeHow to Sew a Button on a ShirtEasy Fabric Covered Buttons TutorialHow to Sew a Button on a ShirtButton Loops

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