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How to Make Buttons out of Polymer Clay

with Sue Heaser

Polymer clay is a marvellous material for making your own buttons. The huge range of mixable colours means that you can create buttons to match any fabric, fibre or hand knit.

Polymer clay buttons are machine washable on a normal wash at 40°C but should not be tumble dried. Do make sure, however, that you have baked your buttons thoroughly for maximum strength – try a test bake with a scrap of clay first: when the clay has cooled, it should be possible to bend a thin piece into a U-bend without it breaking. If you paint your buttons or apply powders or varnish, it is safest to hand wash them.

Most polymer clays are suitable for button making but Fimo Classic, Fimo Soft, Premo Sculpey and Studio by Sculpey are all particularly recommended.

These simple buttons are quick and easy to make and you can choose any colour to match your garment!  Here is what you will need:

  • polymer clay in a colour of your choice, approximately 20gm will make 6 large buttons

  • a roller and rolling guides (you can use two strips of cardboard about 3mm thick) or a Pasta Machine

  • a ceramic tile or baking sheet for rolling out the clay and baking it in the oven

  • cutters in the shape of your choice – here we have used a 20mm (3/4in) round cutter but any simple geometric shape works well.

  • a pencil with an eraser on the end for indenting the centre of each button

  • a large blunt tapestry needle

Step 1

Roll out the clay (we have used an acrylic roller) on the tile between the rolling guides, or use a pasta machine to make a sheet about 3mm thick. Leave the clay sheet on the tile.

making polymer clay buttons, step 1

Step 2

Use the cutter to cut out the buttons, pressing the cutter down firmly into the clay until it reaches the tile below.

making polymer clay buttons, step 2

Step 3

Pull the scrap clay away from the cut-out shapes and leave the shapes on the tile until after baking. This avoids distorting the buttons by moving the soft clay.

making polymer clay buttons, step 3

Step 4

Use the eraser end of the pencil to impress the centre of each button. This will make a depression for the thread to lie in so that it does not get worn.

making polymer clay buttons, step 4

Step 5

Hold the tapestry needle vertically and make two holes at opposite edges of the central impression. Rotate the needle a little in each hole to enlarge it.

making polymer clay buttons, step 5

Step 6

Bake the buttons on the tile according to the clay manufacturers’ instructions – usually about 20-30 minutes at 130°C. When cool, remove from the tile. If the buttons have slightly rough edges, you can sand them with fine sandpaper.

making polymer clay buttons, step 6

Experiment / Find out more...

You can add interest to the surface of the clay by using texture stamps or items from around the home. You can also experiment with colours by blending the clays to create faux stone effects (the translucent polymer clays are excellent for this) or to create millefiori patterning. There are more Sue Heaser button designs on this page which feature animals and figures.

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