Thursday, 18 June 2009

Tutorial: How to make fabric-covered buttons!

This morning I found some self-cover button casings that I'd bought aagges ago and forgotten about, and I just couldn't resist the urge to straightaway make buttons covered in my fabric (how could it have taken me so long to do this? Wish I had more casings as I could go on all day!)

It's not that hard to do but I realised that part of the reason it'd taken me so long to get around to making buttons is because I thought it was a complicated thing to do. Assuming it's not just me who thinks this, I figured I'd also make a wee tutorial, complete with pics, to show just how easy it is.

Now I need to find some metal casings (these are plastic) and go into full-on production, and make some clothes just so I can add custom-made buttons!

** UPDATE ** I've just got my hands on some metal buttons, along with a fabric-covered-button-making-tool, and the process is different but easier than below, so ignore plastic buttons and this tute, and go metal, people!

Tutorial: How to make fabric-covered buttons

1. Get yourself some self-cover button casings - I used “Self-Cover Buttons” by Hemline, which are from a sewing store.

2. Cut out a circle of fabric as directed on the button packaging (for the 22mm buttons I used, the fabric diameter was 48mm) and sew a gathering stitch close to the fabric edge (as above).

3. Remove the washer from the shank of the button casing and position the button top onto the wrong side of the fabric circle, with the shank facing up (as above).

4. Separating the fabric strands, pull each end until the fabric has gathered around the button casing (as above). Tie all the ends together and cut off the loose thread ends.

5. Position the washer back on the shank with the ‘teeth’ on the inside, facing the fabric (as above) and make sure the gathered fabric on the edge of the button is smooth (unlike mine!)

6. Using a cotton spool end, push down on the washer firmly to secure it to the shank

7. Voila, you are done!

8. Admire your lovely custom button! (And ignore the fact that the button fabric morphed from grey to brown throughout this tute :)


  1. I buy my self covered buttons on Etsy in bulk. If you get the aluminum ones, you wont even have to touch the machine. Just buy the ones with the tools with the buttons. It's normally just an extra $2

  2. Thanks for the tip Belinda, easier (and non-plastic) = better! Will investigate futher...

  3. Thanks, I can't wait to give it a try!

  4. just wondering if you have instructions on how to use the metal cover your buttons?

  5. this video shows how to use the tool:

    I buy my buttons from everythingribbons on etsy ... they offer by far, the lowest bulk price and they ship out fairly fast. I hope this helps.

  6. Thanks Ana and hope that helps, Tanya! Go button mania :)

  7. Hi, found this Googling about self cover buttons, can anyone help me with info... I bought the Hemline plastic ones and made them up beautifully. But I wanted them for decoration on a dress front and the white plastic shank at the back sticks out a mile! (I got a smallish size.) There's no way I can get these to sit nicely, they flop about and the white plastic is easily seen. Any suggestions? (Apart from starting again with different buttons?)

  8. Hmmm, besides using thick fabric for the button hole line to hide the shank (or padding the fabric along the button line) I can't think of a way to hide the shank... Good luck!

  9. Hi,

    I have also just purchased a button covering machine and agree - it's so much easier!

    I can NOT find any metal buttons for the machine, I've looked everywhere! Do you mind me asking where you get yours from?


  10. Hi Natalie! The tool for metal buttons is actually just a piece of rubber and a piece of plastic and is really cheap - about $5 or so. If you try ebay I think you should find a heap of metal buttons and tools, or in Australia I've used Jacobindi who are really helpful and friendly. Good luck :)

  11. I've tried using three different types of self-cover buttons and they were all rubbish. I wanted one where the shank was joined to the front of the button, rather than the backing piece (so that pulling on the button doesn't pull the back off). They need to be strong because I'm using them for upholstery. Have contacted Hemline for a local stockist. Thanks heaps for sharing your information.

  12. Good luck Heather! I've not seen the buttons you describe but the ones I use aren't for upholstery, so not heavy duty. Maybe ask an upholsterer what they recommend (hello, yellow pages) if you have not luck with Hemline... Have fun!

  13. hello this prob going to sound stupid and daft but i have a cross stitch chart for these how do i know what size buttons i need to get chart shows picture of sixe 29mm the area of aida needed is 10 cm by 10cm ?

    please can anyone help me am new to these ?

  14. Thanks a ton it has been a very good help, now to make fabric-covered buttons! is simple utilizing your information. Thank you

  15. I did the gathering stitch using a thin elastic, it was really easy to pull the ends together without breaking the threads


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