How to Make Chinese Knot Buttons

Written by annmarie keller
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How to Make Chinese Knot Buttons
Chinese knot button making is an ancient art easily done at home. (Chinese fashion image by Liu Xiang from

Before the modernisation of button making included plastics and metal, the people of China used buttons handcrafted from silk or satin cord for their clothing. For Chinese people, knots were more than a way to keep their clothing on; it was much-prided artwork. There was, at one time, over a thousand ways to tie a button. Button art adorned the clothing of the rich and poor alike and still adds grace and beauty to garments today. Learning to make a Chinese button takes a little coordination, but a little practice will make perfect.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • 12-mm silk or satin cord

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  1. 1

    Cut a piece of 12-mm satin or silk cording about 1 foot in length.

  2. 2

    Holding the cord between your thumb and finger, tie a loose knot, leaving about an inch of one end free.

  3. 3

    Loop the cord counterclockwise, a little left of the end where you started. This will give you a 1-inch diameter circle.

  4. 4

    Loop another circle over the first one the same way, only this time a little right of the first.

  5. 5

    Loop the second end of the cord under the starting end, weaving it through the little circles right to left, then over, under, over and again under until you have pulled the second end completely through.

  6. 6

    Keep pulling and readjusting the cord as you pull it through the knot until the ends are even, the knot is rounded and the tightened loops are well defined.

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