How to Make Self-Fabric Buttons

Written by cathy lavender
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How to Make Self-Fabric Buttons
Buttons are available in different colours, textures and sizes, but self-cover buttons that match the outfit gives a finished look. (buttons image by AGphotographer from

Many years ago, buttons were made from bone, wood and other such materials. Lower income families could not afford buttons, so they made fasteners or buttons from fabric and thread, or wool. Hundreds of years later, clothing styles have changed and so have buttons. Currently it is common for clothing to have matching buttons by using self-cover button forms. Self-cover buttons are available in a variety of sizes, and you can find them in the sewing notions section in department and fabric stores.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Button form
  • Self-cover buttons
  • Template
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Assembly tool

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  1. 1

    Select the proper-sized button form from the package of self-cover buttons for the project you are working on, and decide the number of buttons needed for the project.

  2. 2

    Cut out a circle of fabric for each of the buttons using a pair of scissors and the template supplied with the button form.

  3. 3

    Stitch by hand, with a sewing needle and thread, a basting stitch ¼ inch from the outer edge of the fabric circle. Leave a few inches of thread at each end of the stitching so that there will be something to pull on for the gathering procedure.

  4. 4

    Draw up the extra lengths of thread left at each end of the basting stitches. Pulling the threads will make the circle gather and form a cup shape.

  5. 5

    Place the button form in the inside of the fabric cup, and draw the edges over the sides of the button form. Tighten the edges by adjusting the basting thread so that the fabric is snug on the form and tucked in neatly.

  6. 6

    Distribute the gathers evenly around the outer edge of the button to eliminate any puckers or folds in the edges or front of the button.

  7. 7

    Apply the button back by placing it over the shank side of the button and pressing it firmly into place using the application tool that came with the package of self-cover buttons. Before snapping the back in place, neatly tuck any loose threads from the fabric edge under the button back.

  8. 8

    Trim away any excess thread from the back of the button. Repeat this process for the remainder of the buttons needed for the project.

Tips and warnings

  • Self-cover buttons come in metal or plastic. If working with silky fabrics, the plastic style will be easier to work with as it will be less slippery. Thin or sheer fabrics can be made stable by using fusible interfacing on the fabric before cutting out the circles.
  • If working with a fabric that can fray easily, it may be best to use a fray prevention liquid to stop this from happening on the raw edge of the fabric circles, or to zigzag stitch the edges so the circle does not get damaged when gathering the basting threads.

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