Embroidered pin-back buttons

Using the embroidery machine to sew death-head moths

Using the embroidery machine to sew death-head moths

At the maker space they have a number of pin-back button maker machines and the components to put together buttons.  Generally people bring their own printed artwork for pins, or tear pictures out of magazines to make mini-collages. I thought it might be interesting to use the buttons and combine them with machine embroidery.

I couldn’t totally decide which of my recent embroidered designs to use, but selected a death-head moth I had recently embroidered and really liked. I stitched it out to fit a 3″ button, (well actually two of them), traced around the motif using the acetate cover that is usually used over the paper artwork to get the perfect size, cut them out, removed the stabilizer from the back, and then took the fabric to the button makers.

Tracing a circle for the Moth embroidered 3" diameter pin-back buttons

Tracing a circle for the Moth embroidered 3″ diameter pin-back buttons

Each time I use the button maker, I need a refresher – if you put the pieces in incorrectly, it can not just ruin your artwork, but also jam up the machine so it’s frustrating to dislodge and make workable again. It also wrecks the metal components, which is just a waste of materials.

I decided to take a video of the steps involved to remind me for the next time I go to use this.

Basically the steps are to lay the face of the button right side up in the shallow dish, add the artwork (or in this case my embroidery) and then the acetate film. Since I wanted my embroidery to keep it’s tactile sensation, and not look like something printed, I opted to not include this.  The pin-back section goes into the deeper dish of the machine, with the pin setting side down.  The face side swivels into place, is clamped down, and the machine “holds” it in the clamp… until you swivel the back into place, clamp it down, and then the button is done!

I also did a version trying to leave the stabilizer on – but it was way too thick for the button, and did not work out at all. A fusible interfacing might be sufficient for future experiments instead.

Unfortunately I had a bit of fabric sticking out of my button when I was done (one turned out perfectly though!) so I’ll need to fix that.

Moth embroidered 3" diameter pin-back buttons

Moth embroidered 3″ diameter pin-back buttons

I also… don’t totally love the big 3″ (8cm) buttons. They’re just too big for me…. So, if I decide to play with this again, I want to figure out some embroidery for the smaller buttons (They have three sizes, the 3″, 1″ and then I think 2″). I might even want to do some beadwork on them… we’ll see if I can find a design that excites me for this project.

What do you think – do you think this is a cool button? Or are you happy with just artwork printed on paper for these kinds of buttons? What kind of design do you think would be fun for me to try next? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


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  • You can see more of what I’m making at the Maker Space by clicking the Maker Space tag, or see more embroidery projects (including machine embroidery) by clicking the Embroidery tag.
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