Pin-back buttons have been around for a very long time, and are the perfect accessory for expressing yourself. Show off your treasured photos, display your support for special causes, or even share your favorite phrases with the world. But did you know you can make your own buttons?
With some creativity and the right tools, you can turn your idea into a customized button to wear and share with others!
Materials for Making Your Own Buttons
The first step to button making is gathering all the supplies you will need, and making sure you have enough to make your buttons. You will need:
- A button press
- Circular mylar sheets
- Your button design graphic
- Steel button shells
- Steel button back with pin inserted
A quick note about the button press: we will be focusing on using a manual hand-press for this tutorial. Although the general process might be similar, electronic button presses will have different operating instructions. Make sure to consult any instruction manuals before making your buttons.
Designing Your Buttons
To make your button customized, you need to have a design! You can put just about anything on a button, from your favorite photos to personal logos, phrases, and more.
When you are making your design, always keep your button size in mind. Small buttons are perfect for simple designs, while larger buttons have more space and can show more complicated details.
Button Design Templates
Once you have your design idea, the next step is to find a template to use. Templates are great for making sure your design idea will work for your buttons, without making a lot of test buttons.
Printing Out Your Button Design
Once you are happy with your button design, it is time to print! In the design program of your choice, put as many of your button layouts as you can comfortably fit. Leave some space between each layout, as this will help with cutting them out.
Next, check that your design program and printer settings will have the design printing at the full 100% size before printing. This is very important, as altering the size can cause the final printed design to not fit in your button press.
Then print out your button designs, with a few extra just in case!
Cutting Out Your Button Design
After your designs are all printed, it is time to trim them for use with your button press. Using your scissors, carefully cut out the design using the outer line of our template as your guide. Make sure to trim the graphics as accurately as possible, as it will help keep your design centered in the press.
Once all your button designs are all trimmed, it’s finally time to press your buttons!
Using a Hand Press to Make Your Own Buttons
Gather all your button materials listed above, and organize your working area for button making. We recommend having separate areas for your parts and the completed buttons.
What is a Hand Press?
A button hand press is a manual machine for making buttons, with no electronic parts. The press mainly consists of a stable base, swinging “arms” with slots for the button parts, and a lever that is pulled to physically press the button parts together.
Although it looks complicated, these button presses are actually very easy to use. Because of how the slots are shaped only certain parts can fit each slot, which helps with keeping track of the arm positions. One slot will have a deep circle-shaped groove (seen on the left in the above image, this is considered the first slot), while the other is overall deeper and does not have a groove (seen on the right, this is the second slot).
Pressing the First Half of Your Button
Make sure the first slot (with the circle-shaped groove) is in the very front of the machine, which will help us with aligning the design graphic. First place the button shell in the circle-shaped groove in the slot.
Next, carefully place your button design graphic so the “tick” mark at the top is centered. This makes sure your design will have the correct orientation for your finished buttons.
Finally, place a mylar circle on top and rotate the machine’s arms so the parts you just placed are inside the press.
Firmly pull down on the press lever until you reach the bottom, and then push it back upright after a few moments. This first press combines the steel shell, printed design, and mylar circle together. The button is now halfway done!
Finishing Your Buttons
Place the button backing part (the one with the pin inserted) into the second slot with the pin facing down and horizontal. You should see the wavy part of the pin (this sits inside the completed button, to keep the pin stable) when the part is sitting in the slot. This makes sure the pin is horizontal on the final buttons, and can be used to wear it once finished.
Next swing the arm the opposite way to be in the press. Don’t worry about not seeing the first part that you pressed earlier! The button press lifts up the first part so it can be pressed onto the second part.
Pull down on the button press’s lever again, and lift once a few moments pass. Swing the arm around one final time, and you should now see the completed button in the slot.
Repeat these steps as many times as you want until you reach the number of completed buttons you need, and enjoy your customized buttons!
Need Custom Buttons or Parts?
Visit our website at www.custombuttons.com to order your own customized buttons, or order more materials to make your own buttons!