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Button Factory by Chronicle Books

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Sometimes the title says it all- The Button Factory: Everything You Need to Instantly Create 25 Fabric-Covered Pins! is a kit from Chronicle Books. Like the name suggests, the inclusive kit contains: cotton fabric, 25 one-inch metal button fronts and backs, molding tool, fabric cutting template, button-covering tool and an 18-page instruction booklet. By combining these materials anyone can create fun and decorative pins.

I’ve traced around the template onto the fabric

Creating the buttons is quite simple. Before making the first pin I had to cut the circular template from the back cover of the instruction book. Next, I traced the template onto the fabric and then cut out the circle of fabric. Then I placed the circle of fabric face down into the rubber button-covering tool, covering it with a button front. When you push down the fabric will smooth over the front of the button and bunch in the back. Place the the pin back (with the pin facing up) over the fabric and snap into place with the plastic pusher. Finally, pop the completed button out of the rubber mold.

When the fabric and pin front are loaded into the rubber mold the fabric should bunch evenly

This process can be very simple and quick when everything works right. Here are some of the issues that I experienced while making buttons. Chiffon fabric or the lightweight cotton that came with the kit were thin enough to smooth down to fasten the pin back. I had difficulty with heavier knits and I think denim or corduroy would be too thick. Sometimes there is too much fabric to tuck smoothly behind the pin back so you need to trim it. More than once I trimmed too much and didn’t have enough left to tuck. The template traces a circle about 2 inches in diameter so making pins is a great way to use fabric scraps.

There is a bit of a learning curve to align the fabric print on the pin.

It is a bit of a learning curve to determine where the print on the fabric will show on the finished button. On the cupcake pin above it took me a few tries to center the cupcake and I still don’t think it is exactly where I want it!) Normally, I would center the print but it is challenging to place the fabric circle exactly in the middle of the rubber mold and since the mold is rubber the fabric can’t be nudged. I found stretchy fabrics like knits sometimes stretched as I was creating the button so the pattern on the fabric became slightly distorted. After a few misses, I found it easier to align the pin back and remove the pin from the mold so I could check the print placement before snapping the button together.

Some of the way to use pins to market your business.

The instruction book is full color with photos and offers some creative ideas. Attaching pins to a business card to promote a crafty business was just one unique way to use fabric covered pins. Some of the models accessorized with pins on their shoelaces, hatbands, purses and clothing. They also suggested using fabric backed photo paper to create photo pins. Adding embroidery or a monogram to the fabric before cutting it was another unique idea and I tried this on a few of my own pins.

Above are some pins created using the art deco themed fabric from the kit. You can see the metal showing through
the fabric. The instruction manual suggests painting the pin front white before covering it to prevent this issue.

My main issue with the kit occurred when I didn’t mount the pin back straight so it could not snap into the front piece so I had to pull off the back and re-arrange the fabric. Other times a pin would snap in halfway, requiring me to push very hard to get the the rest of the pin snapped in. I bent a bunch of the metal pin pieces this way. I also learned that once bent, misshapen pin parts are even more difficult (if not impossible) to snap together to make a pin.


I found the Button Factory kit to be a unique way to create one-of-a-kind pins. The all-inclusive kit requires a minimal amount of fabric, so it is a good way to use lighter weight fabric scraps. Personally, I found the small size (just over an inch in diameter) to be a bit limiting for embellishing the pins. Although there are not refills listed, I found companies who offered similar size badge blanks, although I’m not sure they would without a badging machine.

The retail price of the kit is $18.95 and could be a fun gift for a younger teen or someone who likes to create unique accessories. The kit is available from a number of online retailers in the US and Australia.

I added some hand stitching to the fabric before creating the pins.

Pros:

  • The kit contains everything you need (except scissors)
  • Easy to follow illustrated instructions and lots of ideas for displaying finished pins
  • Great way to use small fabric scraps

Cons:

  • The pin components re made of lightweight metal which can easily be bent
  • Refills are not available
  • Pins come in one size which is just over an inch in diameter.

Would you make your own pins? What kind of pins would you create with the Button Factory?

Disclosure

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3 Responses to Button Factory by Chronicle Books

  1. Anonymous June 27, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    While watching this video, I remembered I used these button kits when I did a lot of sewing. However, instead of using the plastic pushing piece to press onto the back of the rubber to remove the button, it was used to tamp down the pin back so it wouldn’t bend or go in crooked. You will probably notice it is open at one end & that is the end that fits over the pin back so you can comfortably press it down.

  2. Toucan Scraps June 28, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    they look quiet cute on the trainers.

    I’ve not tried this kind of thing yet.

  3. Sue D June 28, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    I think my granddaughter would like to make pins with me. They could also be used to embellish hair clips.