Fabric Button Instructions – Making fabric covered buttons with your own button machine

Fabric Button Instructions – Making fabric covered buttons with your own button machine

One growing trend in monogramming and embroidery is the use of fabric-covered buttons as an accessory for a range of items, from clothing to purses to shoes. Many small embroidery shops have begun to offer a selection of fabric buttons, including custom monogrammed buttons. With a professional button machine, a small embroidery shop can quickly expand their product offering with a fun and versatile fabric button that has a number of uses.

Get started by choosing your fabric

One of the most exciting aspects of fabric buttons is choosing the right fabric to decorate the button with. A trip to your local arts and crafts store is sure to provide a wide range of patterns and designs that can give any fabric button a certain amount of flair.

A number of popular designers offer their patterns as fabrics that can be used for a number of arts and crafts projects. Such popular designers include Lily Pulitzer and Vera Bradley. With decorative fabric from a popular designer, it’s easy to make a trendy fabric button that’s sure to impress.

However, some designer fabrics can be a bit expensive. For a small business that wants to produce a large number of fabric buttons in an assortment of colors and patterns, an arts and crafts store like Jo-Ann Fabrics can be a great place to find inexpensive but stylish patterns.

When choosing fabric, it’s important to remember that not every type will work in a button machine. It is a good idea to check the thickness of each material as some materials are too thick for a button maker and others are too thin. This is not a major problem, as most fabrics used in button production are of relatively similar thickness; However, special fabric buttons using leather for example will require a button machine that is calibrated to accommodate the material.

Using a button machine to create fabric covered buttons

According to Keith Brown of Dallas-based American Button Machines, “Most button machines are made to produce buttons using plain printer paper. Cloth is a completely different type of material than paper. It is important that the button machine is properly calibrated to accommodate the challenges of fabric button making. Correct calibration ensures that the button machine will produce buttons of consistent quality throughout its life.

With a little creativity and the right equipment, an embroidery company can expand its fabric-covered button offerings and sell a wide variety of new buttons with many different uses. After cutting the fabric to size with a circular saw, a number of different options, such as the type sold by American Button Machines, can be pressed onto the back of the button to make several different products.

Many different attachments, such as a key ring, zipper or mobile phone charm, can turn each button into a personalized novelty. This is especially useful for embroidery shops who can make a custom fabric button to accessorize each item. There are a number of backs that can be used with a fabric button. While some prefer a back to adorn a bag or to wear over clothing, a jacket or a hat, others may want a more flexible back.

Many different uses for fabric covered buttons

Snap-Inz are used to turn a fabric button into a shoe charm to decorate Croc shoes. These charms can be glued to the back of the button and simply clipped into place through the holes on the Croc shoes. Another use for fabric buttons is as a ponytail holder. This can be achieved with a special button at the back that has an opening to thread an elastic for a ponytail. Other special kits may include bracelets and necklaces with buttons, as well as paci-clips and key chains.

“Discerning customers are looking for the latest in quality button-making options such as pocket mirrors, ponytail holders, key chains, necklaces, buttons and fridge magnets,” said Keith Brown. “Applying a custom initial monogram to a fabric button is a great way to embellish a favorite item or add a personalized feel to a book bag, jacket, purse or pair of flip flops.”

Capitalize on the opportunity by owning a button machine

Although monogrammed fabric buttons are becoming increasingly popular, it can be difficult for a small embroidery business to take advantage of the opportunity. Also, many production methods are not efficient enough for a small business trying to establish itself as a supplier of fabric buttons. Fabric-covered buttons can be extremely versatile, but most manufacturers do not offer any options for their customers.

Most embroidery shops start off slow, perhaps using a Dritz Button Cover Kit or similar type of “hand pressed” button. Although Dritz buttons are good for making canvas buttons, sometimes the results can look a bit homemade as they usually don’t produce the same quality as a canvas button made on a professional button making machine. Dritz buttons are good, but they were never intended for the high-end production method that the monogram industry demands.

Although relatively inexpensive to make (with essentially non-existent accessories), these push-together button styles can be a challenge to assemble. They rely on the strength of the individual to press the parts together by hand or with a hammer. After all the materials are collected, they are placed in the press, which is then pressed together to make a button. There are several limitations to this method. Pressing the woven buttons by hand can be difficult to do and uncomfortable for the user. The person making the button must act extremely slowly to ensure a quality product. Rushing can and often does result in a button that isn’t centered and looks bad. Also, a push-together button is not an efficient button maker because it takes more time to make a button compared to using a professional button making machine.

Many production methods are not efficient enough for a small business trying to establish itself as a supplier of fabric buttons. For a business that wants to make a large number of fabric buttons or a variety of coated button types, the old hand pressed buttons just aren’t up to the task of producing a large number of quality buttons quickly. These pressed button styles are good for a family or art class making craft buttons, but an embroidery shop that needs a large number of fabric buttons in a short amount of time would be better off using a professional button making machine on fabric buttons.”

Many gift shops and distributors simply order fabric covered buttons from a manufacturer such as Morgan and Company With professional-grade equipment, a manufacturer can quickly produce a large number of buttons; however, there are some drawbacks. The cost of these fabric buttons can be quite high, as the manufacturer has to mark up the cost of the button to the distributor, who in turn marks it up again to the end customer. Also, if a customer wants to customize a button with an initial monogram, the manufacturer may not be able to produce a custom monogram or will charge a high price for the custom embroidery. To keep costs down and still produce personalized embroidered gifts, many embroidery shops are starting to buy their own button making machine.

Making a fabric button is extremely easy with professional equipment. After selecting a particular fabric and completing each embroidery or monogram, a circular cutter is used to cut each piece of fabric that will be used in the buttons. Once the other necessary supplies are gathered, a professional button maker can quickly produce a large number of buttons.

It is important to reiterate that the standard button maker must be properly calibrated to accommodate the challenges of fabric button making. There are very few “professional” button makers on the market today who make fabric buttons. One of the simplest and most effective is the rotary die and pull lever button machine.

How to properly use a button machine to make fabric buttons

In a rotary die machine, materials are placed in two separate dies. The button casing and fabric are positioned in the first die, which is rotated into the machine and the lever is pulled once. The button is then placed back into the second die, which is rotated in the press and the lever is pulled a second time, completing the button pressing operation.

“We have found that a rotary die button maker is the most efficient way to produce large numbers of buttons extremely quickly,” said Keith Brown of American Button Machines. “Button parts are loaded directly in front of the operator, so they don’t have to make time-consuming left and right movements to load parts, which slows down production. The two dies rotate on a central axis, providing speed and accuracy to such levels that these machines can produce a button in as little as ten seconds. There are other fabric button machines that are designed to have interchangeable punches. Mantles are interchangeable , to change sizes quickly and efficiently. Although production is not as fast as the rotary die method, these machines produce very high-quality, cost-effective buttons.”

A fabric button is a great way to personalize any item and add a unique sense of personal style. With a wide range of fabrics and a number of different options for making buttons, fabric buttons have a number of uses, such as pocket mirrors, key holders, ponytail holders, pin buttons, shoe charms and necklaces. By investing in a professional fabric button maker, an embroiderer can easily expand their supply and take advantage of the growing popularity of fabric covered buttons.

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