diy wednedays: 9-hole buttons

we’ve been obsessing over some 9-hole buttons we saw online a while back, and thought we’d try to make a few of our own using some oven bake clay from the art store. a film canister acts as a great cookie cutter for the buttons, and we indented the centers with an old wine cork. with 9 holes you can pretty much embroider any letter you want, which is great for personalizing your clothes or emblazoning your favorite coat with a catchy word or phrase.

have fun!
derek & lauren

CLICK HERE for the full instructions after the jump!

here’s what you’ll need:

sculpey, or fimo in a color of your choice
rolling pin
plastic wrap to cover your work surface
empty film canister or small round cookie cutter
wine cork

1. roll out a piece of clay to a little less than 1/4” thick.
2. press the open end of the film canister onto the clay to cut out a circle.
3. indent the middle of the circle using one end of your wine cork.
4. create a grid of 9 holes in the center of your clay circle using one end of a toothpick.
5. bake for 10-12 minutes in a 275-degree oven.
6. with embroidery floss or thick thread, attach the button to a garment of your choice, using the embroidery floss to create a letter of the alphabet as you sew on the button.


  1. Sarah says:

    I have also seen and loved those 9-hole buttons—never occurred to me that I could make my own though! Thanks for the idea.

  2. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Do these buttons survive being washed in a washing machine?

  3. Newbie says:

    I love the texture the wine cork gives the middle of the button!

  4. Oh my goodness, these are brilliant!

  5. alexis says:

    i’m running to the craft store on my break, so cute!

  6. grace wieber says:

    Ditto Bliss’s “Brilliant”. The nine holes lend themselves to mega possibilities.
    Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  7. Wow!!! 9-hole… I didn’t know them and I’m really fascinated!

  8. Laura. says:

    this is sooo cooool!!!!!

  9. Alice Lam says:

    Love this idea. Really cute for a baby sweater.

  10. Britt says:

    I have been wanting to make buttons with more holes, like the crazy ones on this couch:
    This would definitely work! Thanks, Derek and Lauren!

  11. Ariana says:

    Sew cute. Love this!

  12. Dee Wilcox says:

    So cute! I made all kinds of fun things with Fimo as a kid but haven’t played with it in years… gosh, like fourteen years. Sheesh! And now, off to Hobby Lobby for Fimo I go. :)

  13. Erin says:

    Awesome. Sculpey makes a every color sample pack that I love and glazes for matte or shiny finishes. (Although you could use any kind of clear finish really, not just the Sculpey brand.)

  14. jenn says:

    that’s awesome! i love custom buttons. so cute!!!

  15. Pam says:

    Gosh, these are SO cute! I have a bunch of Sculpey somewhere…

  16. *gemmifer* says:

    I remember making some Fimo buttons for a cardigan back in college and loving them! This is a great new idea for a similar project.

  17. AmberLee says:

    i completely love it…all the possibilities!

  18. Amy says:

    Kim, I was wondering the same thing about whether or not you could wash the buttons. So I went online and discovered that Sculpey III has a tendency to crumble. However, according to the blogger, she has washed her Premo many many times. Hope this helps.

  19. pamela says:

    imps+elfs is a great company that makes children’s clothing… i bought a onesie for my daughter and the buttons spell LOVE… it’s one of my favorites.

    by the way anyone know how to make a “tiny” url?

    1. grace says:


      just drop your url in the provided box at :)


  20. These are wonderful. I never made my own buttons. I am going to give it a try.

  21. Bri says:

    Those are really cute! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing the project.

  22. Eva says:

    so easy and cute. greatgreatgreat.

  23. Ann says:

    So clever – I love this.

  24. Oh how sweet! These buttons have been on my wishlist for quite some time, but now that I see your tutorial, I guess DIY is much more charming. And cheaper ;)

  25. justin says:

    I’m gonna make them THEN SPELL MY NAME. crafts make me a kid again. These are the neatest.

  26. Kathleen says:

    The only letter you can’t easily create is Q. The other 25 are fair game.

  27. tar says:

    You can make a Q, it’ll just be diamond-shaped.

  28. calamity kim says:

    These are really great but I will have to look way back in the corner og my time machine for a film canister! LOL! Really- these are so cool! I’ve never seen them before- they’d be great for golfers- 9 holes- get it? Sorry- just had corn for dinner!
    calamity kim

  29. What a fantastic idea! I’m getting so many ideas on how this can be used..

  30. cumpcake says:

    wow, this is extreme….
    so makeing one right now

  31. Missy K. says:

    What a cute idea. I want to try that now. Do you have a stitch diagram for letters?

  32. Billy says:

    It’s fair game to take a DIY inspiration from a designer’s idea. That said, the guys who had the original idea would surely appreciate a link:
    BTW: you can find a stich diagram there, too.

  33. lauren says:

    Hi Billy-
    Thanks so much for the link to! You’re right- they definitely deserve to be mentioned since they were the inspiration for this project.

  34. Judith says:

    I’m with Missy – I’d love to see a stitch diagram for the entire alphabet!

  35. chico says:

    i love your 9 button idea.. i was thinking of a nice way to customize my new set of bracelets..

  36. Kelly says:

    This is wonderful and I know my kids are going to love making these with me!

    The only Sculpey’s available to me around here are Original and Ultra-Light. Would either work? Or should I wait to find Premo out of town somewhere?

  37. shelley says:

    These are smart, and cute.

    i beleive sculpty has the same properties as femo,…

    earlyer this year i was tired of buying buttons, since by the time i made the outfit i wanted a differnt colour and already paid an arm and a leg for the ones i bought, so i made my own 4 and 2 whole buttons out of femo. baked them, and used them on my nephews pj’s (he is 5) they lasted perhaps a month, then they swere breaking and falling off.

    i am going to try again by putting wire in the butten to give it more stregnth to see if that helps. but the 9 whole idea is still great!

  38. it’s a very smart and new technique. Awesome !!!

  39. Yana says:

    Now I know how to use my son’s play dooh!

  40. I am going to try this with some leftover Sugru – it’s silicone, so I suspect it will do fine in the washer.

  41. Great idea!

    For the commenters who asked about machine washing and drying polymer clay buttons, you can if you use a strong brand of clay. Different clays are good for different things — Sculpey III is intended to be a kid’s clay, so it’s not as durable as the artist-grade clays. Try Premo, Fimo (not Fimo Soft), or Kato for the best results on a project like this.

    It’s also extremely important to thoroughly bake the buttons, double-checking your oven temperature with an external thermometer. Most oven’s internal thermostats are a little off, and while 25-50 degrees may not make or break your casserole’s success, it will cause problems with baking clay. Clay cooked at too high of a temperature will burn, while clay cooked at too low of a temperature is more likely to be brittle and break.

  42. Erin Nelson says:

    Thinking it’s time to go to Home Depot to buy some tiny drill bits…

  43. dina says:

    I intended to do “D” and I didn’t :P , I’ll try it again

  44. Carole brisson says:

    How about stitching the holes and then glueing a tie tack to the back of the button. This allows you to move the button from garment to garment

  45. Kristin says:

    Did anyone think to just call them “Alphabet Buttons”? I think it’s a much catchier name, just sayin’…


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.