Covered Button Brooches

Julie Yonge © 2007

   
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This is a project that is all the rage in sewing circles right now! It is a fun, easy and quick project and lends itself to so many diverse artistic interpretations. Basically you will embellish a small circle of fabric that will cover a button designed just for that purpose and then finish the back by adding a pin for a brooch or a drop for a necklace.

The first time I saw these wonderful little items is on a public Silk Ribbon Embroidery Yahoo group. A very nice lady there, named Orinda, shared pictures and her method of making these lovely covered button brooches. She has graciously agreed to share her website where you can visit and see all the wonderful buttons she has created. Orinda's work is just stunning. Her web shots are located at: http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/550712446JivADf 

For this project, you will need:

  • A 6" square of fabric (dupioni, moiré, thin brocades or velvets, silks, etc.)
  • A 2" circle of batting
  • Embellishment items: threads, ribbons, beads
  • Dental floss or strong beading thread
  • A 2" covered button kit

I have seen some of these button kits at places such as Hobby Lobby in smaller sizes, but the 2" size purchased from RibbonSmyth is quite nice and easy to work with.

The kit contains:
1. a 2" stainless steel slightly domed button top.
2. a 2" stainless steel button back with a wire shank
3. a white plastic button top holder used in putting the button together
4. a blue plastic "pusher" for putting the button together.
5. a pin mechanism to apply to the back of the finished button.

In the crazy quilting world, one of our favorite rules is that there are “no” rules so I will outline what I did, but every person can alter the methods to what works best for them.

First choose a piece of fabric that you wish to embellish. I would suggest using fabrics that are not too thick. Silks, satins, moirés; brocades, and even cottons would lend themselves quite readily to this project, however, I was also able to use nice velvet that wasn’t too thick.

I don’t normally use a hoop, but those who do would simply hoop the 6" square of fabric into a 3" or 4" hoop to begin. Lay the button top on the center of the wrong side of your fabric and draw a circle lightly around the button top with a pencil or chalk marker and then draw a circle about an inch and a half out from there.

The inner circle is where you will embellish; the outer circle is where you will cut the fabric to cover the button. You may want to put a basting stitch on that inner circle line to indicate your embellishment area. I found that it helped to baste in place a 2" circle of batting to that inner circle area where I would be placing my embellishment stitches. This not only served as a guide to see where to limit my stitches, but it also gave the stitching area a bit of strength and body and I like the look of the batting when added to the button top.

Since I don’t use a hoop, I just went on and cut out my "outer" circle and worked with that small, approximately 4" circle of fabric, but that is strictly a personal choice.

Then let your imagination go and add flowers, a tiny scene of some sort, a silk print, a tiny landscape, seascape, holiday inspired motifs the sky is the limit! Once you are happy with your embellishment, you are ready to cover your domed button top.

If you have been working in a hoop, you would now cut out your 4” outer circle. Take your heavy-duty beading thread or dental floss and place a running/basting stitch about ¼ inch outside the finished 2” embellished circle. You will then place your embellished fabric piece right side up onto the domed button top centering your embellishment and then pull the running stitches to gather them tightly around the back of the button top.

Work with the fabric a bit to make sure your edges are neatly disbursed around the button’s edges. If you find you need to trim away some of the excess fabric, now is the time. I take a few stitches – from top to bottom, left to right, etc. on the back once gathered to help the fabric stay in place, nice and tight, centered, and smooth. Don’t get too carried away here with stitches; however, as this will hinder the next step if you do.

Once you are happy with the placement of your embellished piece on the button top, you are ready to put the parts of your covered button together.

     
     

Take your embellished button top and place it embellishment side down into the white plastic holder/cup provided in the button kit….this plastic piece is very pliable and it will fit in there quite snuggly. Then drop in the button back, with the shank pointing up.

You will then take the blue plastic “pusher” open area down, place it on the button back and push firmly with both thumbs and forefingers or even place it on a table top and use the palm of your hand to push the back into place. You will feel and hear it pop in. Voila! You now have your button covered.

I then took some wire snips and pulled out the button shank (it comes out quite easily if you pull out one side, then the other), glued in a backing fabric such as ultra suede or felt and then you can either sew on your pin mechanism or glue it in place (I just used E6000 to set in place). You can glue, sew or bead a loop to the top of your button cover if you want to make it a necklace.

The buttons look wonderful at this stage, or any kind of beautiful trim, lace, or cording, can be added to the edge; dangles to the bottom, etc. Those who are somewhat advanced in beading can add a beautiful beaded ruffled picot or peyote edge to compliment the button cover as seen in the examples shown.

  In the pink button done by Barbara Blankenship and Lynnis Burt, a brocade fabric was used as the base, silk ribbon embroidery added and then a beaded ruffle picot worked around the edge.  
  The next example shows a pendant done by Barbara Blankenship in which she used black velvet for the background fabric, added silk ribbon embroidery and then did beautiful beaded peyote edge with drop at the top and beaded dangles at the bottom of the button.  
  In the final example, I used a mauve velvet background, added a hand-dyed lace motif piece, silk ribbon embroidery, beads and crystals and sewed a hand-dyed cording around the outer edge of the button. 

While working on this article, my beloved Bee Crazy group went on a sewing retreat together and I just happened to bring a bag of button covers with me. To my delight they all jumped in and had a ball creating buttons one day during our retreat. I have included a picture of the girls at work and of all their wonderful creations.

   

The blue silk button with pink roses was made by Linda Balcom, who is new to silk ribbon embroidery. She did an exquisite button and thoroughly enjoyed this small project. It helps spark creativity and is a good project for SRE practice.

My sewing friends donated all the brooches made at our retreat to a charity event held at my local Church just before Christmas and they sold like hotcakes!

Vickie Brown of RibbonSmyth sponsored a Button Cover Contest in late October of last year so I entered all our "retreat" creations into the contest. Unfortunately, the contest ended prior to this publication, but for further inspiration you can find the details for joining this group and viewing all the button covers that were entered on: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Silk_Ribbon_Heirlooms/  .

I hope you are feeling inspired and will give this quick and easy project a try. What wonderful gifts they make for any time of year. I plan on printing a picture of my mother on silk, adding some silk ribbon embellishment and making a brooch that I will proudly wear to church on Mother's Day.

Resources:

RibbonSmyth: 2" covered button kit

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