How to Make Your Own Shrink-Art Buttonscomments (19) March 1st, 2009
Hello! I am so excited to announce that I have a new craft book coming out this week, Button It Up, published by The Taunton Press. To celebrate, our wonderful editor Michaela suggested that we put together a month of button-themed projects in all different crafty genres. So after making more than 60 projects with buttons for my book, I thought I'd switch it up and actually make a set of the buttons themselves!
I used shrink plastic to make pretty pet tags a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd use this versatile, magical substance to whip up a set of buttons, too! This is a super-customizable project—make any color, size, or style of buttons that you dream up. This tutorial is designed to make sew-through buttons (with holes drilled through instead of a back shank), and remember, this plastic is lightweight—perfect for fun decorations or craft projects but not as ideal for garment fastening or weight-bearing spots. I made mine somewhat oversized for a project I had in mind, but of course you can make yours as big or as small as you like!
What you'll need:
- Shrink plastic sheets
- A round template to trace, larger than your desired size (remember, your pieces will shrink down to less than half the original size after baking)
- Scissors or decorative-edged scissors (I used scalloped and plain for my sets of buttons)
- Standard hole punch
- Sharpie or other marker if you want to make them colorful
- Toaster oven
1. Trace a circle or other shape lightly onto the shrink plastic sheet. Cut it out using the scissors of your choice. Remember, the original size of the plastic will shrink to less than half the original size. I used a larger and a smaller set of lids to trace for two different button sizes, and used scalloped scissors to cut the larger circles and plain ones to cut the smaller circles.
2. Using a ball-point pen or pencil, lightly mark two or four spots on the front of your circle, where you want the button holes to go. (I used four for each of mine.) Use a standard-size hole punch to make these holes in a symmetrical pattern. The holes will shrink neatly just as the shape will, leaving it the perfect size for stitching or slipping a jump ring or wire through the holes of your decorative buttons.
3. Trace or draw any desired design freehand, or color in your button completely if you want to. For my flowers, I just drew simple, organic shapes that filled the circle, with some edges showing, but you could trace a favorite vintage fabric or photograph if you like, too. Remember, if you use colored markers, they will shrink down to a much darker and more concentrated shade, so fill in with color lightly instead of thick coats. You could also try stripes, polka dots, or any other repeating pattern to decorate your buttons. And you can make the opposite sides of the buttons different colors if you like, too.
4. When you're happy with your design, get a piece of clean aluminum foil and fold one edge up (as advised by my shrink plastic package instructions) for easy grabbing when the pieces are finished. Follow the directions on the package to shrink your pieces in a toaster oven, placing them on the foil sheet at least an inch apart. Remember, they'll curve and puff up before shrinking back down to flat again (which is weird and fun to watch!), and if they finish up warped, you can smooth them down with the back of a spoon before they cool off. You can also reshrink any pieces that aren't quite even. However, a bit of a handmade look can be nice—shrink plastic doesn't always retain its symmetry as it shrinks and reshapes.
5. Let them cool completely before using them in your next craft project.
Next week I'll have a tutorial up for a project to make with your shrink-art buttons—stay tuned!
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery