How to hack your clothes! Polymer clay flower button tutorial

This is a fairly quick and easy way to make your clothes completely unique.

Unless you make your own clothes or have them tailored/designed especially for you, it’s likely that most of the clothes you wear will be identical to those worn by hundreds – if not thousands – of other people. But you are not a robot! Here is a way to put your own mark on clothes, bags or shoes, and stand out from the rest of the herd…

second hand coat with standard buttons, ready to hack with polymer clay buttons
Boring coat from second hand shop
coat with handmade polymer clay buttons
coat with handmade polymer clay buttons

You will need:


Step-by-step instructions for making polymer clay flower buttons

Step 1: Remove one of the existing buttons from the garment, and then draw around it to create a size guide for your new buttons:

Draw around the button to get a size guide for the polymer clay flower button
Draw around the button

Step 2: Start with twice as much of the light colour as the dark colour…

two colours of polymer clay read to turn into flower buttons

… and then condition the clay by rolling the colours separately through the pasta machine approximately ten times (until they are soft and flexible sheets)

conditioned polymer clay
conditioned polymer clay

Step 3: Overlap the two sheets of clay so that they are the same width as the pasta machine rollers. Try to arrange the pieces so that one side of the combined sheet is all dark, and the other side is all light:

polymer clay sheets ready for a rough Skinner blend
Overlapping clay sheets

Step 4: Roll the sheet through the pasta machine (on its thickest setting), with the dark colour on one side, and the light colour on the other side:

start of a rough polymer clay Skinner blend
start of a rough Skinner blend

Step 5: Keep rolling the two-colour sheet through the machine in the same direction each time, until the colours fade into each other…

Skinner blend continued
Skinner blend continued

(before you put the clay back through the roller, fold it in half (with light-coloured edges touching each other and dark-coloured edges touching each other) and then put it through the pasta machine, folded edge first):

Skinner blend after a few more passes through the pasta machine
…after several times through pasta machine

Step 6: When the colours are mixed, fold the top and bottom edges of the sheet towards the middle, and then fold that sheet in half again (so that the light and dark clays are always on opposite ends of the sheet to each other):

Folded skinner blend sheet
Folded skinner blend sheet

Step 7: Starting from the light-coloured end, roll the clay through the pasta machine on its thinnest setting, to make a long ribbon of clay:

long ribbon of polymer clay
ribbon of clay

Step 8: Starting from the light-coloured end, roll the clay ribbon into a tight cylinder:

rolling up the polymer clay ribbon
rolling up the clay ribbon to make a bullseye cane

Step 9: Cut the top and bottom ends from the cylinder to make it neater:

cut the ends off the polymer clay bullseye cane
bullseye cane

Step 10: Cut the bullseye cane into quarters:

Cut the polymer clay bullseye cane into quarters
Cut cane into quarters

Step 11: Arrange all of the quarters so that the light end is facing upwards, then pinch each of them from the sides, moving downwards from top to bottom so that the sides are flattened instead of pointed:

squeeze each polymer clay cane from the sides
squeeze each cane from the sides

Step 12: Arrange the canes so that their light-coloured ends are all at the top, then squeeze gently from the sides to start to reduce the cane and make it thinner. Move along the cane from one end to the other:

squeezing the polymer clay cane from the side
pinching the cane from the sides

Step 13: Then press the cane from the top to flatten it (gradually moving from one end to the other):

pressing the polymer clay cane to reduce it
Gently pressing down on the top edge

Step 14: Turn it so that the dark clay is at the top, and press that side, too. Keep turning the cane and pressing along the sides and from the top, until it gets longer and thinner:

Reduced polymer clay cane
Reduced cane

Step 15: Cut the cane in half:

cut the polymer clay cane in half
cut the cane in half

Step 16: Place the two halves of the cane next to each other:

Line up the polymer clay canes
Line up the clay canes

Step 17: Repeating steps 12-16 four or five times, to get thinner ‘veins’ in the petal pattern:

squeezing polymer clay cane from the sides
Pinch cane from the sides and top…
Cut the polymer clay cane in half
Cut the cane in half…
place the canes next to each other
Stack the canes…
polymer clay cane shows fine 'veins'
…and repeat until ‘veins’ are very fine

Step 18: Position the cane so that the dark clay is on top:

dark polymer clay is on top and light clay is on the bottom
Dark clay on top, light clay on bottom

Step 19: Pinch the top of the cane into a point. Work all the way down the cane:

pinching top of polymer clay petal cane into a point
Pinching cane into a point

Step 20: More gently for the light-coloured side, press the sides so that the light end becomes rounded and the cane now looks like a petal shape. Work all the way down the cane:

Pinching the polymer clay petal cane into a rounded shape
Squeezing into a petal shape.

Step 21: Cut a slice approximately 3mm thick from the end of the petal cane.  Put the point of the petal in the very centre of the circle that you drew around the button in step 1. If the outer edge of the petal is inside the circle then the cane is the right size. But if the edge of the petal is outside the circle then reduce the cane further (you should be able to very gently pull the ends of the cane to stretch it longer and thinner, which means that the petal shape will get smaller).

polymer clay petal fits inside circle when the point is in the middle of the circle
(Petal fits inside circle)

Step 22: Cut 5 slices from the end of the cane that are approximately 3mm thick:

3mm slices of polymer clay petal cane
3mm slices of cane

Step 23: Arrange the petals into a flower shape:

polymer clay flower button shape
arrange the petals

Step 24: Use a roller to gently flatten the petal canes into a flower shape. (Try not to roll it too thin – it’s better if the flower doesn’t get much bigger than the circle you drew):

roll the polymer clay flower cane flat
Roll the petal canes to join them together

Step 25: 

Either: poke holes in the flowers with a needle and then bake them (at the clay manufacturer’s recommended time/temperature),

or bake the flowers and then drill holes in them.

You now have a set of flower buttons!

finished set of polymer clay flower buttons
finished set of polymer clay flower buttons

Step 26: Sew the button onto the piece of clothing (or bag or shoes or whatever)

polymer clay button sewn onto coat
polymer clay button sewn onto coat
coat with handmade polymer clay buttons
Finished item

Have you tried this tutorial? How did it turn out? Tweet me a photo @polymerKay :)

Or is it the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? Send me a comment with some suggestions :)