How to: Make fabric covered buttons

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Fabric covered buttons can really elevate a handmade garment - whether they're made from the same fabric as the main garment or from contrasting fabric to add a pop of colour. They're also a great way to use up fabric scraps!

If you're intimidated by the thought of making them, don't be - I use a simple gadget to make mine, and I've never looked back! Pull up a chair, and I'll explain the steps below. 

  1. A 'cover button' tool. I use a universal cover button tool which can be used to cover buttons in five sizes ranging from 11mm/18L to 29mm/45L.
  2. Self cover buttons. I also have a few packs of self cover buttons in assorted sizes. The ones shown in this tutorial are white plastic buttons, but you can also get metal buttons as well as black plastic buttons.
  3. Fabric to cover the buttons with.
  4. A pair of scissors. 
  5. Optional - fabric markers suitable for your fabric. 

The buttons come in two parts: one part sits inside the button and has a spoke with an end that can be sewn through to attach the buttons (shown on the left, in the image below), the other is an inner cap which fits over that piece and traps the fabric inside the button (shown on the right). Your buttons' spokes and caps might look different, but the principle is generally the same!

The button cover tool also has two parts - the base part which has a hole or 'well' corresponding to each size of button, and the top which is used to push the button cap in and secure it. In the pictures below, the base of my tool is grey and the top is purple.

Note that you can get cover button kits which either don't require the use of a cover button tool, or which have a specific tool which operates differently to the generic type shown in this tutorial. In this case your kit will hopefully come with instructions anyway, and you can follow those instead! 

  1. Mark some guide points on the wrong side of the fabric to help you cut out a circle which is roughly twice the width of the button. In these pictures I'm using 15mm buttons, so the diameter of my circle is roughly 3cm.

  2. Place the button piece with the spoke on top of your fabric circle, with the fabric facing wrong side up. Then place these inside the well of your button cover tool. If your tool has many sizes, like mine, double check that you're using the hole which is labelled the right size for your button.
  3. Push the button piece down right into the bottom of the well. You want to try to keep the button level, not tilted to one side, as you do so. It should click into place and you should see that the edges of the fabric are automatically folded over towards the inside. If you think they need to be flattened or tweaked (e.g. if the ends don't seem to have folded over evenly), you can use a pin or awl to move them slightly at this point.
  4. Place the button cap over the button spoke, inside the well. Use the top of the button cover tool to push the cap onto the spoke. Try to keep the tool level, not tilted to one side, as you press. It usually just needs a quick press from the top, and you're done.

  5. Lift the top of the tool, and take the button out of the well. Check that the cap is securely attached and that all the ends of the fabric have been neatly secured inside the cap. Sit back and admire your buttons! Wasn't that easy?!
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