How to Make | Fancy Handmade Buttons

Buttons are great embellishments for your sewing, knitting, crochet and even papercraft projects. They add the perfect finishing touch to garments, bags and accessories, so why not have a go at making some yourself? Kirsty Neale explains how to make decorative handmade buttons in two unique ways — from shrink plastic and scanned vintage patterns, or using silicone putty and modelling clay.

You Will Need:

  • Vintage fabric or wallpaper scraps
  • Access to a computer, scanner and printer
  • Inkjet-friendly shrink plastic
  • Heat gun or oven
  • Shape punches or dies (optional)
  • Hole punch
  • Decorative buttons
  • Silicone putty
  • Air-drying clay
  • Acrylic paint
  • Clear varnish (optional)

Fancy Handmade Buttons

Here’s how to make fancy handmade buttons…

1. To make shrink-plastic buttons, scan vintage fabric or wallpaper into image-based software (e.g. Photoshop). Adjust the size, ready to print pieces roughly twice as big as each finished button. Colours will intensify on shrinking, so lighten the designs before you print, too.

2. Print the patterns onto inkjet-friendly shrink plastic and leave to dry for a few minutes. Cut or punch out shapes — you can do plain circles or something fancier if you prefer. Use a hole punch to make buttonholes in the centre of each shape.

3. Use a heat gun or the oven to heat and shrink each plastic shape. The buttonholes will also shrink as you heat. Flatten any uneven parts while the plastic is still warm by pressing down on the finished button with the base of a drinking glass.

4. To create clay buttons, press a decorative button into silicone putty to make a mould. Leave the putty to cure, then remove the button. Roll some air-drying clay between the palms of your hands to soften, then push into the mould.

5. When the clay has completely hardened, pop the button out of the mould and paint in your chosen colour. Add a coat of clear varnish for an optional glossy finish.


This project has been excerpted from 101 Ways to Stitch Craft Create Vintage.

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