Sunday, March 9, 2014

Make Your Own Vintage Buttons

This button broke! It goes on one of my favorite shrugs.
You know, there are very few things in sewing that make me really, really sad. Running across a beautiful vintage button and needing eight when there is only one is definitely a major depression bringer. The other is losing/breaking a specialty button on one of my favorite clothing pieces. Luckily I have figured out how to remedy BOTH problems!
I discovered this method for making your own buttons through some trial and error as well as some internet research. If you want to post it elsewhere, please feel free to share the love- just link back to my blog.

Materials List:

  • Button you want to copy, charm to make into buttons or idea of button you want to make
  • Cornstarch
  • Plastic or metal bowl
  • 100% silicone (must be 100%!) caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Sculpey clay (or other bake-able type clay)
  • Fondant roller (small is great-$6 at Walmart in cake decorating section)
  • Plastic placemat (or other item to shield your table...placemats are cheap and reusable)
  • Sculpey mini cutters (if you so desire, I find them helpful for basic button shapes)
  • Toothpicks
  • Gloss or matte acrylic spray (I prefer gloss)
  • Jump rings (Jewelry section. These are optional for shank buttons)
Buttons/items for molding

More materials

For basic geometric shaped buttons, work some clay in your fingers. Roll out to whatever thickness you want. Cut shapes. layer is desired. Poke holes in them using toothpicks. Then bake at 275F for 15 minutes for every 1/4" thickness.


Layered Shapes
Toothpick Holes

Now, for molded buttons:
First, get your work area set up. Lay down the placemat, get your caulk in the gun, put cornstarch (a few inches deep or so) into the bowl, and lay out your other materials so they are easily accessible. Next place a glob of silicone into the cornstarch. how much you put depends on how many buttons you are molding and how big they are. Use your best judgement.
Silicone in Cornstarch

Next work the cornstarch into the silicone until it is no longer sticky but still workable. It will feel sort of like warm clay.
Worked Silicone

Flatten it slightly on your placemat. It should be thick enough to handle your buttons and not have them poke through on the bottom but not so think that it doesn't set. 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch seems to work just fine for most buttons.

Press your button into the slab and leave it to set for 90 minutes.
When the time is up gently peel the mold off of the button.
Completed Mold
I usually test my molds with some play-dough.
Testing, testing...
Now, you are ready to mold! I prefer using the Premo! Sculpey. It tends to be less soft than regular Sculpey and holds the mold better without getting stuck in the mold. Press the Sculpey into the mold firmly. Add a jump ring on the back for a shank. Otherwise, you can lay down a piece of toothpick and mold a clay shank. If you don't want a shank, just gently unmold and use toothpicks to create holes.
Molding with Jump ring

Molding with toothpick

You can also add jewels. Just mold as normal and very gently press the jewels where you want them.
Molded version with Original

Then bake at 275F for 10-15 minutes per 1/4" thickness. Watch them carefully so you don't overbake them!
You can then paint them with acrylic paints. Then spray them with the sealant, let dry and they are ready to go!

Good luck with your buttons! Hope you found this tutorial helpful!