Your most exciting and distinctive creations begin with the world's most beautiful buttons.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Making Button and Bead Covered Bobby Pins

I keep seeing cute little bobby pins with buttons glued on the ends, and decided to try my hand at making a few.  Up 'til just last fall I had knee length hair, and bobby pins were a mainstay, but I usually wore a style that hid them.  Now my hair is much shorter, and I would like to revamp my collection of accessories.

I don't much like glue -and certainly don't want globs of glue in my hair, so I wanted to avoid using it. 

I made the first few "test" versions of very cheap plastic buttons, using 6-strand embroidery floss.  The floss being so flexible made it easy to work with, but the abrasive action of threading it through the buttons and around the metal of the pin shredded it pretty quickly, so I switched to fishing line.

It took me a few tries to come up with a technique that worked for me, using a variety of buttons and beads in various sizes and styles. This is the method that has -so far- given me the best results.

If you want to give it a whirl, you'll need:

Clear Fishing line (I used 12 lb)
A 3" doll needle or long beading needle
A hand sewing needle in a small size (I think I used a size 11)
A collection of buttons & beads
6-Strand Embroidery floss in colors that look nice with your buttons and beads
Bobby Pins

I started by cutting a section of fishing line about 2 feet long.  I discovered early on longer is better, but too long tangles.  So two feet seems about right. I folded it in half, and ran the ends through two of the holes on the first button (through the front, to the back). Then I crossed the lines and brought the ends back through to the front, wound it around the button, then slid it between the posts of the bobby pin.  From there, I just repeated the same steps through the other holes, adding buttons as I went until it was covered.

The back (smooth) post is your friend; you can wrap the line around it as many times as you'd like to hold the buttons securely.  But you can also just wind the line around between the button and the post to give it some extra height & to give it a bit of "wiggle room" so you can adjust it a tiny bit once it's in your hair.

Once all the buttons were secured, I ran the line back up parallel with the post to the very first button, and tied it off to ensure everything was secure.

Next, I threaded the needles with three strands of embroidery floss, and ran it through the holes of the buttons to hide the line, and give the impression they're sewn on.

To make the whole thing more hair friendly, once I was sure I was happy with it I used more embroidery floss to make blanket stitches that covered the back post (behind the buttons) and prevented the fishing line from abrading my hair strands.

All total, the fanciest versions took about an hour at first, and about half an hour once I really got the hang of it.  It's a fun little project, and if you use buttons and beads you really love you'll have a little piece of wearable art when you're done.

Once you feel you've mastered the basic techniques, consider the possibilities of adding beads, charms, feathers, or other found objects to make truly one-of-a-kind pieces.