How to make decorative thumbtacks | How About Orange

March 21, 2007

How to make decorative thumbtacks


A few people have emailed asking how to make the little fabric-covered tacks I posted previously. See step-by-step photos below, going from left to right.

Start with a pack of "Wedding Gown Size" (size 20, 1/2") metal buttons to cover (available at fabric stores for about $1.50). Pull the loops off all the button backing pieces with a pliers or wire cutter. Cut your fabric scraps into circles slightly larger than a quarter, or use the circle template printed on the back of your button package. (Since the edges get tucked in under the metal backing, you don't have to be a careful cutter.)

Following the package directions, use the "pusher" tool that came in the pack to cover your buttons with fabric. This step is easy and the most fun! Then use a generous amount of hot glue to attach a tack to the back of your button. A standard tack should fit perfectly. Your cork board will thank you.

UPDATE: You can buy buttons to cover that have flat backs so you don't have to yank off the wire loops! I didn't know this when I made mine. Shoot. Could have saved myself some work.

106 comments:

Flibbertygibbet said...

They're so sweet! Lovely fabrics too.

Alice said...

I love them a lot. Excellent way to use up scraps from bigger projects.

Sarah said...

This is fantastic! Now my corkboard will be colorful! Thanks for the very clear instructions.

jen jen said...

I have to say it again that everything in this blog is so cute!!

renee said...

i love this idea...can't wait to make my own!

craftyminx said...

I saw these on the craft: blog and just had to tell you how great they are! Very cute!

Marti said...

These are definitely very clever. Must make some for myself!

Jess said...

Thanks, guys! I love little tiny patterned things. Glad to hear you do, too.!

irene said...

These look really nice!

Lori said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing the how-to.

Stacy said...

I just found you via "Oh Joy!" and I think it's my new most favorite blog. :) Great ideas!!!

sunali. said...

tiny tacks. tiny patterns. so adorable. I love your fabric choices and your blog.

cruststation said...

I saw our blog on 'Oh Joy!' today. You have a wonderful blog and these thumb tacks are too adorable!

frances said...

cute cute!

Amy said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Your last several posts have been really inspiring to me.

casapinka said...

Great tutorial - they are soooo sweet.

platinum blonde said...

what a fun project!!!

waisze said...

great project. love your site.

Michelle said...

those are awesome!

amy k. said...

so flippin' cute!!

mysocalledperfectlife said...

I LOVE these! Now off to get me a cork board....

Thanks for the cute tutorial!

Rachael said...

These are fantastic. They make me want to make fabric buttons for a new spring jacket...in addition to making some tacks, of course.

Kristy said...

Great idea thanks!

amyelisedesigns said...

How fantastic! I saw your link on another blog and think this is a great project! Thanks for sharing!!

Thimbleanna said...

Thanks so much for these great instructions. I tried them out and I love them -- they're addictive!!! I took your idea, embroidered numbers (like Sally did at ShimandSons) and this is what happened: http://thimbleanna.blogspot.com/2007/04/new-obsession.html
Thank you, Thank you!!!

Jess said...

Thanks for the link, thimbleanna; I checked them out! Great idea putting numbers and letters on them. So fun! Thanks for sharing!

kat said...

I saw these recently somewhere and thought they were really cute. Thanks for showing us how to make them!

amandajean said...

these look great! thanks for sharing such a great idea...can't wait to try it out.

Morgan said...

how sweet, and a great gift idea for my crafting friends!! I love your blog! My first visit, I'll be marking you as a fave!

karen in toronto said...

fabulous !!
thanks a lot for sharing.

kneek said...

After seeing your tutorial, I ran to my nearest fabric store, bought several sets of covered button kits with the intention to make loads and loads of thumbtacks. However, for the life of me, I couldn't get the fabric to stay inside the button - there was always a frayed edge popping out somewhere. My mother had a tool that came with a buttom making set she bought for upholstery, this helped a little, but we still couldn't get a decent looking button. Ack. I was really disappointed and frustrated by the process because your buttons and Sally's look fantastic.

Jess said...

I'm so sorry to hear that! For some reason, I didn't have that problem. Once I poked the fabric down into the shell with my fingers, it stayed there. Maybe try using a chopstick or something pointy to poke it in? Or, maybe your fabric is really heavy? I used lightweight cotton prints. I've tried to use thicker fabrics before, but it becomes hard to push the back piece on and make it stay. Maybe that's the problem?

Dorie said...

these are really nifty! Thanks for sharing.

string*THEORY said...

this is sooo awesome!
thanks for the tutorial:)

claire59 said...

c'est vraiment une idée géniale !
bravo !
clap clap clap clap !!!!

digibudi said...

Hey so funny! I love your blog, and look what I've posted on mine before I've read yours! coincidence or unknown friend? :)

http://digibudi.blogspot.com/2007/03/new-place-for-digibudis-digital-garden.html

Jess said...

Great minds must think alike! I'm sure we're not the first people to think of this, either, since it's a pretty simple idea. But so fun.

Anonymous said...

I made some tacks and also used small button magnets to make some sweet little fun for gifts and the fridge.

I also want to thank you for reminding my brain about the oven bake enamels for ceramics. I have some serve serving dishes that are l.a.m.e. and can be saved with pebeo yay!

Katy said...

Thanks so much for sharing - I love those! Did you use plain ole regular tacks?
Best Wishes - Katy

Jess said...

Yep, regular garden variety!

Funky Finds said...

awesome tutorial - thanks!

adrienne... said...

I love your blog.
And I love your tacks.
Thanks for the tutorial!

Here are a few I did today...

StarkatBeads said...

Just...Lovely! :)

Mary Corbet said...

This is GREAT! Clever idea - and perfect for classroom bulletin boards! They'd be a great gift for teachers (assuming they aren't left on chairs!)

Larissa said...

I made some!!! and I love them. I'm gifting them to a friend, so THANK YOU for the timely idea.
One thing I did (whether is was necessary or not, who knows) to strengthen the bond was to scratch the inside of the button and the top of the tack with a nail to give it more 'tooth'. Also, I was wishing for longer spikes, so I bought some black upholstery tacks that are longer from Walmart, but they won't fit in the 1/2" buttons. So I am going to order slightly larger buttons and see how that turns out.
I LOVE THIS IDEA. Next step, making myself some.

The Shopping Sherpa said...

Brilliant tutorial which I finally got around to following today:

http://theshoppingsherpa.blogspot.com/2007/09/trying-different-tack.html

Thanks!

free ps3 said...

Thanks for the nice post!rwy

Katrina said...

I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

Hello Daly said...

What a great idea! Thank you!

zolaclaire said...

My friends and I have a saying that we use when we are thinking about something and suddenly we see it on TV, hear about it on the radio, or someone else brings it up.. We say "Now that's the power." Perhaps others use it too... anyway, I am in the process of painting a cork board for my son's room and I wanted something cooler for thumbtacks. I came across your site via a Curbly blogger who mentioned your Christmas cards. Instead of going to that particular blog entry, I started from your home page and wah-lah - That's the power :) Thanks for sharing the steps to make cool thumbtacks!!

Anonymous said...

sub a magnet for the tack and you can have a snazy fridge too!

dailycraft said...

great tutorial! i think i will try this over the weekend :)

Rebs said...

I've been churning these out like mad for holiday gifts.

For the tacks I purchased, I found size 24 a better size to accommodate the tack. This also allowed me to display a bit more fabric.

Once you have the pusher tool, go cheap and hit your local design district where you can buy the buttons by the dozen. I paid just $1.15/dozen of the size 24s. You can also scrounge around for some fabric scraps while you're there!

I was able to get teensy but strong magnets from Lee Valley Tools. Plus, magnets are a bit more useful for those of us w/o bulletin boards and esp good if you need something teeny but pretty to hang kid art on the fridge or filing cabinet!

crafty carolinagirl said...

I just tried out your thumbtack tutorial last night, and boy was it easy. I love the look of the fabric covered thumbtacks instead of those ugly red, green, and white plastic ones.

Thanks for the great tutorial!

hellskitten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hellskitten said...

hi, i loved this idea so made some too. mine are here

thanks again. xx

anastasia said...

Thank you for the tutorial! Sometimes it's the little changes that mean a lot when it comes to personalizing the mass production things we use everyday. As soon as I get a chance I'm heading over to the closest craft store to pick some button covers up.

Caroline said...

Absolutely love these! Great tutorial! I posted about mine here. I've already ordered the supplies for 50 more to make magnets, too. Thanks so much.

NJTomboy said...

OK - This project has changed my life! Ok maybe not.. but I love the ingenuity of it... Thanks for sharing!

That girl.. Ang

ps - adding you to my blog posse!

Kimberly said...

Awesome tacks can not wait to get some supplies and make my own!! I love your blog!

little one said...

my roomate and i sat out on the porch today and made a ton of these. all sizes. they are so cute and perfect for our board in the craft/sewing room! thank you!

Chrissy said...

I *LOVE* this idea! Brilliant!

xoxo

Anonymous said...

I saw this and ordered the button blanks immediately! I cannot wait to make my own! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU !

denise said...

Thanks for all your great ideas and clear instructions for how to make the projects! A friend shared your blog with me, and reading it is a favorite way for me to unwind after work. I've given away many of these thumbtacks and they're always a huge hit! Thanks!

maritessb said...

i hve one of those and i didn't know there was a flatback whoo hoo! thanks!

website design nyc said...

nice post

Momo said...

cute! Love it! Thanks for sharing!!

Anna said...

That's so cute! I've to try it.

philljando said...

I work for a fabric store but haven't seen anything as interesting as this. What a great idea!

web design quote said...

Really nice stuff i found it here. Thanks for the posting on how we make the little fabric covered tacks. This post is well explain and also images are available to take help from this.

Eric said...

It's a simply super... http://www.itemplatez.com

Elizabeth said...

I made some of these this weekend, and had so much fun. My mom went gaga over the ones I gave her! I'm storing mine on old wine corks I've saved. Thanks!

Happy Campers said...

I LOVE these...beyond cute. Perfect for Mom's stocking stuffer this year!

Kristen said...

I really want to make these, do you know of something I could put on the back to make it longer than a tack? I'm making a jewelry board and want to make some cute push pins that can stick out a bit for necklaces to hang on. Any ideas?

Jess said...

Nothing comes to mind, but I'll let you know if I think of something!

EmbeeArqam said...

Love the idea! <3 One of the many simple yet inspiring ones on your page!

Epicurvegan said...

I was just thinking of a way to make nice thumbtacks instead of buying those awful clear/coloured plastic things at the stationary store. Thanks so much for giving me some better ideas! :)

concretenprimroses said...

I'm going to try to cover upholstery tacks like this. I use them at the junctions of ribbons on message boards. One of our neices just had a baby, and I want to make a board for baby's room but just didn't like the look of the tacks with the pretty fabric and ribbon I picked out. Thanks for a great idea.
kathy

Trish said...

I used fabric left over from my wedding (bridesmaid dresses & tablecloth), and they were easy to make. I get to enjoy the thumb tacks at my office, and think back to my BIG DAY!

angeyprice said...

Just came across your blog today. Love it!!! Will you sell these decorative thumbtacks??? Pretty please?! :). I love them, but am not so good at diy projects.
angeyprice@earthlink.net

Jess said...

I'm not planning to sell any, but you can probably now find sellers on Etsy.com if you search for thumbtacks and fabric or something.

Kat@BlackKatsDesign.blogspot.com said...

I love the thumb tacks. All the more reason to get going on my bulletin board project. I featured it on this week's Fab Friday Favorites . I hope you stop by, grab a button and stay and visit awhile.

RiotInk said...

I was searching for this EXACT tutorial. Thanks so much for the info! Can't wait to get home and try it!

Nancy Ward said...

Hi!

Today I posted an entry on my blog with a link to this tutorial.

I'd appreciate your letting me know if that's OK.

Thanks,

Nancy Ward
http://paperfriendly.blogspot.com

Sarah said...

Thanks for a super idea! I just love them and they are better than pretty magnets as the magnetic boards are so expensive.

Bagalicious said...

Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I haven't tried it yet but I was wondering if the hot glue is really strong enough to hold the pieces togethere? Does it ever separate when you're pulling the tack out of the cord board? Thanks again! ~Corinne at Baglaicious, http://bagalicious.etsy.com

Jess said...

Mine have not come apart yet. Still holding securely.

the coolest person in the world said...

Oh my word! I am so glad that I found this post!!! I work at a store and we sell fabric covered thumbtacks, but they are a bit overpriced. I thought that I could make them, but wasn't sure how. Thanks for posting this. I now have to run to the fabric store before they close!!

Regan

The Real Blonde Blogger said...

Making them this weekend...what a fun and easy way to start crafting. :)

Dustbin said...

so cool, i don't have a pinm board but do have a metal wall so how about a magnet stuck to the back!

pet dog collars said...

Thanks for the post, I was looking for some info on how to make thumbtacks for my grandma, she loves sewing and she specially loves thumbtacks, I cant wait what kind of thumbtacks is going to make.

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Anonymous said...

Rather cool place you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anete Smith

Zsolt said...

Nice idea, thanks for sharing!

Isabella Golightly said...

What a fantastic idea! I've done buttons, earrings & badges this way but I never thought of thumbtacks (or 'drawing pins', down here). BTW, there is a great Etsy seller who has acrylic templates that let you cut out the exact size of fabric you need for your buttons - Buttonzone. Highly recommended.!

Anna LEE said...

i just made some of these! they are so easy and very cute! i bought the 20 and 24 size and found the 24 works best. the material started to come out of the 20 buttons, but they never did on the 24.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that you can buy button backs that do not have the wire loops. Where can one find these? I can't seem to find them anywhere!

Katherine said...

You can get the button cover kits at Joann's, Hancock Fabrics...places like that. Michael's may even have them.

Thank you so much for this wonderful idea. I made a wine cork board and needed something equally cute to go with it. These are perfect!

Jess said...

Anonymous, you can order lots of sizes at J Caroline Creative. Get size 20 right here or search on the site for "button cover flat back" and you'll see lots of sizes, available individually or in bulk.

thegbox said...

Neat-O, this almost seems to be a Zen-like activity to calm your mind.

Auntie said...

Very cool. So simple. I've seen these around, but never looked into how to make them. Great post. I also make my own push pins. Now, I think I'll try some of these.

Sherri said...

Such a cute idea! I have a question though: is there another type of glue that would work as well as hot glue? I don't have a hot glue gun and don't really want to have to buy one just for this project.

Jess said...

E6000 would work, I bet.

Karin Matilla said...

Hi!!! I love your work!! congratulations!! Thanks for sharing this tutorial!!
Hugs from Chile!!

buttonbiz said...

I really loved your fabric button tutorial. It's one of the better tutorials I have come across. I've been compiling a list of the best
fabric button tutorials
and I've added yours to my site. Let me know if you do any others in the future so I can link to your site and help my customers. If you need any fabric buttons to try new things out, just let me know.

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