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fabric butons

Fabric Buttons !!!
All of the button machines from button makers .net can be adjusted to make buttons from fabric as well as paper! I’ve tried this with all sorts of different fabric and have had the best luck with thicker, less stretchy fabrics such as canvas.


If you want to use thinner fabric, you’ll need to add a couple layers to add thickness. You might think about using a layer of canvas with something very thin on the top. Otherwise the fabric will tear in the machine. You can also use thin fabric with mylar on top. That works really well. But I think it sort of defeats the purpose of using fabric. I like the texture most. I worked with one customer who makes the cutest mirrors using nifty printed fabrics. She chose to use mylar on top because it protects the fabric from getting dirty. For her project it was all about the print, and not so much about the texture.

Making fabric buttons with mylar is easy. It’s just like making buttons with paper. It’s the fabric buttons without mylar that give people the most trouble. So for this tutorial we’re casting off the mylar and doing fabric only!!

For this project I’m making multiple size buttons with red canvas. I have a skirt that is missing buttons, so I’m going to replace those with pin-back fabric ones. Then for fun, I’ll be making some big ones for decorations.

First we have to tackle circle cutting. There are many ways to go about this. The least expensive and most time consuming method is of course cutting by hand with a pair of scissors. This is a totally fine way to go, except if your cuts aren’t exactly perfect circles, you’ll have a lot of excess fabric to trim off the finished button. Which, actually, you’ll have some excess fabric to trim no matter what.

The next option is the Graphic Punch, which is what many people start out with and already have for paper buttons. This is really not a good option for fabric though. It’s really hard to get the fabric through the plates (though I try with all my might as you will see below) and then the cuts aren’t great. It’s not easy to use with fabric.

My personal favorite choice for cutting fabric is the Adjustable Rotary Cutter. It was super easy with the canvas, but with more delicate fabrics, you might have to spray a little adhesive down to your work station to prevent the fabric from moving and bunching. Or you may have to resort back to hand cutting. But again, the canvas was problem free with the rotary cutter.

So, now that you’ve decided which method you will use for cutting circles, it’s time to get all of your supplies together.

Pictured here I have everything I’ll need to make 1 inch fabric buttons, including the skirt that I’ll attach them to.

1. In order to actually get this piece of canvas through the plates of the graphic punch, I’m applying a strip of tape to the end. That will fit through the plates and allow me to pull the canvas through without it getting all bunched up.

I actually had a hard time with this. I was able to do it ok with the model 1313, but as you will see later, I gave up and switched to the rotary cutter for the larger sizes. This method would probably work fine with thinner fabric.

So I basically made a tail of tape. I applied a layer of tape to both sides, made it as flat and bubble free as possible, and cut off any exposed stickiness.

The fabric now has a tail of tape that will fit through the punch and allow you to pull it through and cut circles.

2. Cut out all of your circles and remove any tape left on the cut circles. I found it easiest to take a blade from an olfa or similar knife and pry the tape up. Fingernails probably work too : )

3. Next, press your button. Load the shell (smooth side up) into the take up die (the one on springs) and place your fabric on top of it. If you’re using mylar place the mylar on top of the fabric. We’re not using mylar in this example.

Press your button like normal. Click here for basic button making instructions.

4. Next we need to cut off the excess fabric. Sometimes, if your circles are really perfect, and you’re really lucky, you won’t even have any excess fabric to cut off. But usually you will and in that case, toenail clippers work really well. They’re curved so they hug the contours of the button amazingly well. I couldn’t find mine, so I’m using cuticle scissors instead.

5. Finally, insert the lock pin into the back of the button. Now we’re ready to attach it to our skirt!!

But first, I’m going to make some 2-1/4 and 3-1/2 inch buttons for added decoration.


For the 3-1/2 inch buttons, I tried and tried and tried to use the tape method to get fabric through the the model 4000 graphic punch. But it just didn’t work. The fabric was too thick to fit in between the cutting plates. So, I switched to the adjustable rotary cutter. It worked way better.

Next load all the materials into the machine and press the button as usual. Then cut off the excess fabric.


Now it’s time to decorate the skirt! First I replaced the missing buttons with my 1 inch fabric buttons. I had to enlarge the button holes a little bit too.

Then I added the 2-1/4 inch buttons to the faux pockets and lined the hem with 3-1/2 inch buttons for a whimsical fun fabric button skirt! Then I made little matching cuffs from sweat bands and 1 inch buttons.

I reused some of the buttons from this skirt and put them on the vintage dress pictured at the beginning of this tutorial. Functional fabric buttons are great if for no other reason then you can swap and replace them to fit any style!!

15 Responses to fabric butons

  1. teenytinytantrums.com says:

    hi! saw your post on my blog. you’re vegan too! well when I need more supplies i’ll definetly check you out, love to support other vegans whenever i can.

    really neat ideas on your blog too! i’m excited to try some fabric buttons.

  2. Bimimonsters says:

    Cool!
    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge! I have a tecre button machine and i thought about fabric buttons but, to be honest I was afraid that the machine would get damaged… but, now I know!
    Thank you!
    I still didn’t go into another sections of your blog but… I will!
    Cheers!!
    bimimonster family

  3. Abbie Road says:

    Great tutorial! I can’t wait to try it! You need to make a tutorial on how to make those cute little hair pins next!

  4. Deb S. says:

    Just a thought on another way to try cutting fabric circles.
    When writing on fabric for quilt squares I used to iron the fabric to the shiney side of freezer wraping paper, this stiffens the fabric and peels off easily later.
    Deb S.

  5. conejo/coneja says:

    how do you prevent the fabric from tearing when it gets crimped in the tecre100? i’ve tried different types of fabric, but have yet to not get at least a small tear.

    please help- i don’t want to have to put mylar on top of my fabric buttons!

  6. ButtonMakers says:

    Hi conejo/coneja –

    Tecre can do special fabric modifications to their machines for $75. You can send in your machine and a sample of your fabric and they’ll adjust it accordingly. You should call them to make arrangements first.

    If that’s not an option ($75 plus shipping is almost as much as a new machine) you can just keep trying.

    Try putting down a layer of paper first or mylar underneath the fabric. I find it usually tears because it’s too thin and fragile, but using double layered fabric or a starch stiffener or some extra paper underneath helps a lot.

    You may also want to switch to a more sturdy fabric.

    Good Luck!!

  7. JeniV says:

    I am having such a hard time trying to make 1.25 fabric buttons! The only way I can get it to work is to use the mylar. I really did not want to use the mylar, but I cannot get the fabric to hold. I have tried putting a layer of paper in before the fabric, but still does not seem to work. Do you have any advice for me>

  8. ButtonMakers says:

    Hi JeniV –

    I’d love to help, but I’ll need a little more information. First, are you using a Tecre brand machine or a Badge-A-Minit?

    If you’re using a Badge-A-Minit I can’t help you.

    Second, what do you mean by “the fabric won’t hold?” Are you cutting the circles too small? Is it tearing?

    Can you successfully make fabric buttons out of canvas or another type of thick, non-stretchy fabric?

    Have you tried putting the mylar under the fabric?

    Have you read this post?
    http://buttonmakers.blogspot.com/2007/08/fabric-adjustment.html

    If all else fails, you’re welcome to email or call me directly for help.

    1-800-927-8330
    info@buttonmakers.net

    Or better yet, if you’re in Seattle you could come by the shop!! : )

  9. JeniV says:

    I am using a 1.25 TECRE machine. I have tried to put the mylar underneath the fabric. The mylar will go around the shell but the fabric will not. I am using 100% polyester. I think that it may just be the type of fabric I am using. Thanks for your help–I am going to try a different fabric.

  10. ButtonMakers says:

    Hi JeniV,

    Yeah, I would try a couple different fabrics before you give up. I’ve had problems like what you’ve described with really stretchy fabrics. I’ve never tried polyester though.

    In some cases, I was able to work around the problem by adding a fat layer of cotton fabric under the fabric I wanted to use.

    But if you’re not married to the polyester, I would definitely try something that has less give.

    Good Luck! (and keep me updated on your progress.)

    Rebecca

  11. Steph says:

    Hey,

    I’m interested in purchasing a machine that I can make fabric button ponytail holders either 1″ or 1-1/8″. Any idea which machine would be the best for me to buy?

  12. ButtonMakers says:

    Hi Steph,

    The 1 inch machines that we sell would not work very well for pony tail holders without a lot of trial and error.

    You’d be better off with a 1-1/4 inch machine. You can assemble pony tail holder sets from the bits and pieces section by purchasing shells, un-pinned backs and welded eyes.

    Also please make sure to read the blog post at the URL below about fabric buttons:

    http://buttonmakers.blogspot.com/2007/08/fabric-adjustment.html

  13. JNHK says:

    Hello!
    Do you have a tutorial on how to create ponytail holders using the 1.25 inch machine?

    Thanks in advance!

    Jill

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

  15. gondola display says:

    very beautiful,I like the skirt
    thank you for share