Own an embroidery machine and want to make a quick-monogrammed letter to embellish a bookcase, shelf or to create unique wall art? I know what you are thinking: You can’t embroider on wood- can you? Actually you can embroider on soft balsa wood, but that’s for another day.
Enjoy a crafting project that includes machine embroidery, fabric-covered buttons and woodcrafts.
- Nautical-themed tiny embroidery designs that are small enough to fit on a 7/8” – 1” button shell
- 7/8” – 1” fabric button cover kits
- Gingham micro check cotton fabric
- Solid fabric
- Rayon or poly embroidery thread
- E6000 glue or high temperature hot glue gun
- Super 77 spray adhesive
- Spray paint in any color
- Latex gloves
- 6” unfinished wooden letter
- Assorted sizes of small plastic buttons with 2-4 holes
Take your wooden letter outside and place on a piece of cardboard or a garbage bag. Then use a can of spray paint to cover the front, back and sides of the letter. Let the paint dry for the amount of time requested on the can, and then spray paint again for a nice even coating of paint on all sides. Let the paint dry for 24 hours.
Pick several of the tiny nautical embroidery designs you like and transfer them to your embroidery machine using a USB stick, direct connect, floppy or by serial port.
If you're using traditional fabric button cover kits found in craft stores, I would recommend using cotton fabric lined with a fusible knit tricot interfacing. I like to interface the cotton fabric before I embroider so that the finished button will be more opaque, hiding the shine of the metal that can easily show through the fabric once the button if finished.
Hoop your interfaced fabric using a tear away stabilizer. Embroider the tiny designs, leaving about 4” of space between each design. If you own an embroidery software program, you can arrange several designs in a row to fill your largest embroidery hoop.
Remove the fabric from the hoop and gently tear away the stabilizer from the wrong side. Place a terry towel on your ironing board and iron the fabric upside down, which causes the embroidery stitches to raise to the top of the fabric, making it “pop.” Make about 30 fabric flatback covered buttons without embroidery using cordinating fabrics.
It can be quite a challenge to create perfectly centered embroidered button covers when using traditional covered button kits because the fabric tends to slide over the button shell when you are pushing the back fabric into the shell-- which is where having a fabric button cover machines becomes very helpful.
For anyone who owns a fabric button cover machine, follow the manufacturer’s directions using the correct stabilizers to make your flat back buttons. A fabric button cover machine comes with its own handy circular fabric cutter that will perfectly center and cut the embroidered fabric at the same time, eliminating the need to trace a template or use any type of adhesive to keep the fabric in place. Another advantage of a button machine over traditional button cover kits is that you have a wide variety of button backs, instead of just a sew-on back, including flat back buttons!
There are two types of button cover kits readily available.
1. The most widely used type contains a button shell, a back and a two part rubber insertion kit. For this kit, you place the fabric over the button shell and push down into the blue rubber stopper and then tuck the excess fabric into the center of the button shell. Then you place the button back on top of the shell and use the plunger to push the back into place while trapping the fabric in-between both metal pieces.
2. The second type of button cover kit has a button shell that has teeth around the rim of the shell. To use this type of kit you stretch the fabric over the shell and allow the fabric to hook over the teeth, which holds the fabric in place while you attach the back. For both of the methods mentioned, the embroidered fabric easily slides off center before you can push the button back into place.
Let me give you a few tips for avoiding fabric shifting which will really help keep the embroidery design centered on the button shell when using traditional button cover kits.
- On the back of the button kit package you will find a half circle template. Use this to trace a full circle on see-through paper such as velum, a lightweight tear away or transparency sheets. Center the template over the wrong side of the fabric and trace the circle using a pencil or water soluble pen. Use scissors to cut out the fabric along the drawn lines.
- Use a product called Super 77 to spray the top of the button shell (use this product outside and keep it away from manicured nails-- yes I have ruined several great manicures!
- Place the fabric circle upside down on a flat surface and then center the button shell that was sprayed with Super 77 onto the center of the fabric.
- Pick up the fabric and look at the right side to make sure it is centered on the shell.
- Adjust as necessary and then follow the directions, found on the back of the button cover kit, to finish the making the button.
- It is helpful to spray a little bit of adhesive into the back of the button shell to hold all the excess fabric in place before pressing the button back into place.
- Take a pair of tin snips and cut off the sew-on shank on the back of the buttons so they will lay flat on a table.
After the fabric button covers are made, glue plain fabric buttons to the wooden letter using E6000 glue. Glue the embroidered covered buttons to the monogram and then add plastic buttons to fill in the empty spaces and allow the glue to dry for 24 hours.
Want a little sparkle? Add rhinestones in with the plastic buttons, or sprinkle a little glitter onto the wet glue.