Last week I finished off another felted hanging storage bag and I need an awful lot of buttons to sew into the middle of my flowers. I was going to buy some, but I thought it might be more fun to try to make some out of shrink plastic instead. I absolutely LOVE shrink plastic - it's one of my favourite things to play with, so this would be the perfect opportunity to have a play and design exactly what I wanted at the same time.
As I wanted so many, I used my Cuttlebug Machine to cut out the shapes, but I imagine any die cutting machine would do the trick. I could have cut my shapes with scissors, but it would have taken many hours longer to make the number of buttons I wanted.
- Die cutting machine or scissors to cut the shrink plastic.
- Cutting dies. Again, not essential. For reference my shapes started off at about 4cm wide and shrank down to about 1.5cm wide.
- Chalks for dusting - Light coloured pencils would work too.
- VersaMark watermark stamp pad if using dusting chalks.
- Rubber stamp if using a Versamark ink pad.
- Light coloured Sharpie pen for optional decorative touches.
- Crop-A-Dile or hole punch
- Clear embossing powder to protect the surface colour. An alternative varnish or glaze would also work.
- Heat gun if you're using embossing powder.
- Oven. You could also use the heat gun to shrink your shrink plastic, but I always find an oven far more consistent and much easier.
This is the first time I've made buttons using my Cuttlebug, so I wasn't really sure which ones would work best.
The shapes weren't cutting out perfectly to start off with, so I put through an extra sheet of cardstock with my plates and die, which thickened my cutting sandwich enough to get a nice clean cut.
I marked my button holes in pencil and then used my Crop-A-Dile to cut out the holes. To start off with, I used the smaller 1/8" hole, but after shrinking my first batch I started using the larger 3/16" as the smaller hole was just too small to be practical.
To shrink them I set the oven to 175 degrees C (or 350 F) and just watched and waited. This is my favourite part of using shrink plastic! As they are quite small they only take a couple of minutes in the oven. I just stand excitedly, watching them curl up and roll around on the baking tray and then they suddenly gain their shape again and settle back down on the tray. Small things!
Above are the shrunken buttons next to their originals to show just how much they shrank by. Those holes are tiny... I'll be sewing these ones on with a beading needle!
After shrinking the first ones and playing with the results, I decided to stick with just the 4 Cuttlebug die cutters. The Creatables flower was just too small to put 2 large holes in, as was the Sizzlits star. The Creatables poinsettia was still a nice size, but when it shrank down it became too weak at the base of the petals and would break very easily, so I discounted that one too.
When you colour shrink plastic and then shrink it, the colour always becomes darker and more intense. As I wanted very pale colours, I used my Dovecraft Shimmer Chalks. I chose only the lightest pinks and greens and dusted over the frosted side of my white shrink plastic to get just a hint of colour. I then shaded the edges with slightly darker colour. To get the flower patterned ones, I stamped onto the shrink plastic first with my VersaMark watermark stamp pad and then rubbed over the whole button with my chalks. This gives a lovely two-tone effect when the chalk brushes over the Versamark ink.
Here they are before shrinking. The heart one has been lightly dusted with pink powder and then dotted with a light pink Sharpie pen.
...and after shrinking.
To protect the colour and make them a little more hard wearing I embossed them with 2 layers of clear embossing powder. Unfortunately the embossing powder has yellowed the colour slightly, but I can live with that.
I accidentally used some holographic embossing powder at one point, which was interesting, but not exactly the look I was going for.
I love the ceramic look you get with putting a glaze over the white shrink plastic buttons. These buttons are made out of frosted shrink plastic, but they are still quite plastic looking and for some reason, the shrinkage wasn't nearly as even as with the white shrink plastic - my squares are now rectangles and my circles are ovals... hmmm
These buttons are hopefully going to be sewn onto a storage bag next week, but they could also be used to embellish cards, scrapbook layouts and many other decorative objects. I'm not sure just how well they'd stand up to the rigours of regular laundering. I'll have to run a few tests and let you know...
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