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On Clothing, what is a Frog Closure?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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A frog closure is a sewing notion which can be used like a button to close a garment. Frogs are usually highly ornamental, designed to enhance the garment they are sewn onto in addition to acting as a closure. Many sewing stores carry manufactured frog closures in an assortment of sizes, styles, and colors, and it is also relatively easy to make your own. Whether purchasing one or making your own, make sure that the opening is suitably snug, so that the closure will not pop open.

Silk ribbons or cords are used to make a frog closure. One end of the ribbon is folded over onto itself numerous times, creating a pattern of knotwork which is used to affix the frog closure to the garment. The other end is used either to make a loop or a ball of cord. Two parts are needed for each frog closure: a loop, and a ball of cord to slip through it. The ball is forced through the loop, which holds the ball so that the garment will stay closed. On some garments, the ball of cord is replaced with a wooden, ivory, or metal peg.

The name is probably a reference to the fact that a frog closure splays out across a garment, like the limbs of a frog. In addition to being ornamental, the splaying knotwork of a frog closure also distributes pressure, which can be valuable in a tightly buttoned garment.

Cloaks, jackets, formal uniforms, and Chinese-inspired designs often use frog closures instead of buttons. On a garment which is plain otherwise, a frog closure can add a dash of style, and on an ornate garment, a frog closure can complement embroidery, beading, and other accents. The closures can also be easily removed and re-sewn, making garments with frog closures somewhat adjustable. As a general rule, the frog closure is matched to the textile used to make the garment, so that it blends in slightly.

When making a frog closure by hand, most sewers use stiff braided cord, and they may starch or glue it to make sure that the knotwork holds. The knotwork of the frog closure should be tightly sewn on so that it will not pull away, and the ball of cord should be sealed to prevent unraveling. The knotwork patterns are limited only by the imagination of the crafter, and they can be any size, from very large to small and simple.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments
By VivAnne — On May 26, 2011

@ahain - Might I suggest you buy some frog closures similar in style to what you want and examine them to see how they were made? Maybe even take them apart and then try to reassemble them. The internet is a great place to look for tutorials and read up on things, but with many hand crafts, the only way you'll really learn to make it yourself is to take the hands-on approach and try it.

Don't be afraid to mess up -- have fun with it. It's pretty easy to make things like tassels, and though I haven't made a frog closure personally, I'll bet you can figure it out.

By ahain — On May 24, 2011

I wonder where you could go to learn how to make a frog closure? I love the hand-made ornate look of them, but most of the ones in the stores are the wrong size or color. I want ones without a pattern, so I figured perhaps I would make my own. I see that gluing is involved, and folding ribbon, and apparently it's pretty easy to do for yourself. I wonder if there are tutorials on this somewhere.

By gimbell — On May 21, 2011

So these are from China originally? I always thought that frog closures looked a bit like Celtic knots, so I was betting Ireland. I wonder if there's any difference between Chinese frog closures and other kinds? Are there any other kinds besides the Chinese ones? Wow, I've never really considered this stuff before, but now WiseGEEK has me all curious. Frog closures are fun, I've got the itch to use them in a sewing project very soon.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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